PRO BOXING RETURNS TO HISTORIC MINNEAPOLIS ARMORY FEBRUARY 23rd IN A NATIONALLY TELEVISED EVENT
Welterweight contender Jamal “Shango” James
of Minneapolis is geared up for another tough opponent at The Armory in Minneapolis on
Saturday, Feb. 23, as he continues his quest to bring a world boxing championship home to
James, ranked No. 3 in the world by the World Boxing Association, will square off against upset-
minded Janer Gonzalez of Columbia, winner of 19 professional bouts with only one loss and one draw.
Gonzalez has never been knocked out and 15 of his wins have come by way of stoppage. A
victory over the tough Columbia fighter would bring James a step closer to fighting for a world
championship – a lifelong dream for the rangy boxer-puncher.
“I like the matchup. It’s going to be an explosive night in the ring,” said James, winner of 24 of
25 professional bouts with 11 knockouts. “He’s got an impressive record, that’s for sure. But
he’s stepping into my house – nobody is going to deny me of getting closer to my title shot in
“I’ve been training for this my whole life. Hey 2019, where is my belt? I want 2019 to be the
year of the belt for me and my hometown of Minneapolis. I can’t wait,” James said.
Undefeated in his home state, James, 24-1, drew big crowds to the Armory in his most recent
fights: a 10-round decision over Abel Ramos and a third-round knockout of Mahonry Montes.
The Minneapolis fighter has reeled off four wins in a row since his lone defeat in August 2016.
The James-Gonzalez fight is the co-feature on the nationally televised Feb. 23 card at the
Armory, a tradition-rich boxing venue.
In the main event, former super middleweight world champion Anthony Dirrell gets an
opportunity to rejoin the championship ranks when he battles top contender Avni Yildirim for
the vacant WBC Super Middleweight Championship in the main event of Premier Boxing
Champions on FS1 and FOX Deportes.
“Fight fans in Minneapolis and watching on FS1 and FOX Deportes are in for a treat with this
high-stake world title showdown between Anthony Dirrell and Avni Yildirim,” said Leon
Margules, President of Warriors Boxing. “Dirrell has been a champion and amongst the
division’s elite for years, while Yildirim always comes to fight and will be determined to make
the most of this opportunity. With the addition of local fan-favorite Jamal James in
welterweight action, this is shaping up to be a can’t miss night at The Armory.”
“Anthony Dirrell took a long, difficult road to get to the super middleweight championship and
he has worked hard to get into position to reclaim the title,’’ said Tom Brown, President of TGB
Promotions. “Avni Yildirim has been one of the most active contenders in the division and he
has gained significant experience since his last opportunity to win a championship. He will need
all that and more to get past Dirrell. And it’s going to be a special night watching Jamal James
fighting for his hometown fans again.”
Dirrell (32-1-1, 24 KOs) won the WBC Super Middleweight Championship with a unanimous
decision victory over Sakio Bika in 2014. It was the culmination of a long, hard road for Dirrell of
Flint, Michigan after he successfully battled non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and was cleared to return
to boxing after completing chemotherapy in 2008. His reign as world champion was cut short
when the 34-year-old Dirrell lost the title by majority decision to Badou Jack in 2015. He has won five straight since that loss to climb back into contention for a chance to become a two-
time world champion.
“This is just like every other fight where we’re going to work on a game plan and execute that
game plan in the ring,’’ said Dirrell. “I saw him fight Chris Eubank and it showed me some
things. He’s a come forward fighter. That’s the kind of guy I like to fight. He’s tailor-made for
me. I’m going to do what I do best and that’s fight. I’ve been keeping my mind, body and soul
together and staying focused to know what I have to do to become two-time WBC champion.’’
Yildirim (21-1, 12 KOs) is one of the most active contenders in the super middleweight division.
The 27-year-old from Istanbul, Turkey, has fought at least four times a year since 2014. The
fight against Dirrell will be only the second time that he has fought in the United States after
defeating Glen Johnson in Miami in 2015. Yildirim suffered the only loss of his professional
career by stoppage against Chris Eubank, Jr. in 2017. In his last fight he won a majority decision
against Lolenga Mock and he enters this fight on a five-fight winning streak.
“I’m very thankful to everyone who helped me get this opportunity and I know that I have all
the tools to beat Anthony Dirrell,” said Yildirim. “Dirrell is a good fighter, but I believe I bring
more to the table than him. I’m coming to win and bring the belt home to Turkey. I waited all
my boxing life for this stage and I am ready to give him a war.”
James has become a local favorite and will be fighting in front of his hometown crowd in
Minneapolis for the third straight time. Gonzalez (19-1-1, 15 KOs) is a power-puncher from
Cartagena, Colombia and is coming off the first loss of his career via a unanimous decision to
Radzhad Butaev in 2017.