Thursday, June 01, 2023  |


James Wilkins is cocky…and proud of it

Undefeated junior lightweight James Wilkins. Photo courtesy of James Wilkins
Fighters Network

Two minutes into the conversation with James Wilkins and I had an idea of who this guy is.

He is the guy whom, if he and I find a parking spot at the same time, I concede it to him because he is…shall we say intense?

I think this Staten Island, New York, 130-pounder, who sports a 5-0 record (with 5 knockouts), walks around with a permanent game face on.

Not to worry, I said told him on the phone, during what was actually an entertaining and fun conversation.

Wilkins, age 22, has a solid amateur background and feels he will be leaping off the page on September 21, when he gets a chance to show his skills on “ShoBox.”

For the record, Wilkins agreed with me that it would be wise, in my parking hypothetical, to let him take the spot…

“I will be making myself a star. I’m ready,” said the man who admitted that he is cocky – and why not? If you can back up the brag, why not be honest about how good you believe you are?

Wilkins has a KO mentality and isn’t looking to allow judges to muck it up, parade their ineptitude and wreck his party, he said.

“I 100 percent respect judges but I don’t leave it in their hands. I never think about going the distance and this fight against Misael Lopez (8-0, 4 KOs) won’t last three either,” Wilkins said.

Yeah, no one has gone past third round versus Wilkins, since he turned pro in June 2016.

For the record – sorry, Teddy Atlas and move aside, Marcus Browne – Wilkins said he is the fighting pride of Staten Island.

“Nobody else, not sharing with nobody,” he declared.

Wilkins is trained by Roy Jones Jr. but Roy will be in Germany, so Sharif Younan will corner him on ShoBox, he said.

Wilkins had one of those rough upbringings that are so common those participants in the sport. Mom was a rock star, still is, while dad wasn’t around, and the fighter isn’t interested in giving him any ink.

“Mom is good but she’s gonna be great after this fight. It’s gonna be a door opener. One hundred and thirty pounds, I’m gonna unify it. Who’s good at 130? Nobody.”

Yep, cocky…

I loved it…

Kid is writing checks and it will be fun to see him cashing them. He thinks very little of WBA titlist Gervonta Davis, basically, and says they’ve already sparred and he more than held his own. “I don’t think nothing of him; I don’t think nothing of (IBF junior lightweight beltholder) Tevin Farmer.”

Wilkins dug fighting before and after school, so, yes, he’s been born to do this.

“I would fight before school every day,” he recalls. At 13, he entered a gym. “It’s in my blood. I think I just like to fight.”

Manager Jonathan “Baca” Hernandez handles rappers and other entertainers but just one boxer: Wilkins.

“I relate to him in the struggle, to how I grew up,” Hernandez said. “He’s trying to make it out. The dedication this kid has is extremely rare in life. The people this dedicated are billionaires and millionaires. It’s almost a sickness; they make the money. It’s the only thing they think about, even while making love. You gotta be crazy to be successful!”

More from Wilkins: “I train three times a day. My overnight success took 10 years to build! I’m against an 8-0 guy; am I on the fast track? This time next year, I will be world champion. Am I cocky? If you can say and do it, what do they want? My foot will be on his neck, strong, and I’m not letting up,” he said of Lopez.

Gotta be intrigued by this kid’s confidence, yes? Any chance he likes to have too much fun, like some of these youngsters? “I’m married to boxing,” Wilkins declared. “I love money. I’m young and flashy. I like to fight and have fun but I can’t have no ties. But my training always comes first. My craft comes before everything.”

Finally his prediction for September 21? “I will be 6-0, six KOs, and my foot will be on his neck!”

The parking spot is all yours, Sir.


END NOTE: Wilkins will make his live television debut on “ShoBox: The New Generation” on Friday, September 21 immediately following the SHOWTIME premiere of “CRADLE OF CHAMPIONS,” a documentary chronicling Wilkins and the 2015 New York Golden Gloves boxing tournament. Wilkins will face undefeated featherweight prospect Misael Lopez in the opening bout of a four-fight ShoBox telecast. The back-to-back programs will begin at 8 p.m. ET/PT with CRADLE OF CHAMPIONS airing before the live ShoBox telecast, at 9:45 p.m. ET/PT, from Firelake Arena in Shawnee, Oklahoma.




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