Tuesday, May 21, 2024  |



Alberto Palmetta gets ready for an ‘intense’ fight against Jamal James on Saturday

Alberto Palmetta. Photo by Dave Mandel/ Showtime
Fighters Network

As a former Olympian, Alberto Palmetta knows very well what it means to face top opposition abroad.

Even though he has been living in Florida for the past few years, the Argentine contender has traveled the world as both an amateur and a pro, and has never shied away from a good fight.

And a good, tough fight in enemy territory is also what he expects from in his next assignment, where he will be facing welterweight contender and Minneapolis native Jamal “Shango” at The Armory on Saturday, February 25, in the 10-round co-main event live on Showtime, presented by Premier Boxing Champions.

“Ever since I moved to the US, I felt like the underdog all the time,” said Palmetta (18-1, 13 KOs) during a phone interview, “and it was the same in the Olympic circuit. But this is the opportunity that I was waiting for, and there is no time for me to think about side A or B. I just to put the trust on my team and my hard work.”

James (27-2, 12 KOs) will be stepping into the ring for the first time since a 2021 slugfest against then unbeaten Radzhab Butaev that saw James’ seven-fight winning streak snapped. The 34-year-old James fought that fight in the same card in which Palmetta also saw action, and ever since then, the 32-year-old Argentine had James in his crosshairs.

“When I fought at the Mandalay Bay (against Yeis Solano) and James fought and lost against Butaev, I saw him at the weigh-in with his belt in his hand and I said “I am going to fight you one day.” And two years later, here we are”, said Palmetta, who seems unfazed about the fact that he will be facing the house fighter only a few blocks away from his actual house.

“Obviously, James is with PBC and gets all the exposure in the world,” said Palmetta. “James has the upper hand here, but I went to the Olympics, I’ve had experiences that he hasn’t had yet. I competed against the best in the world in that circuit, that has been a great experience. Boxing is a sport that takes a lot of time to develop and learn, and for things to happen you have to be well connected. I don’t consider myself the A or B side, I just know that this fight will be a very important fight for me. I know I will be fighting in his own backyard but that’s nothing new to me, because it’s always been like that.”

Premonitions or not, the fight did take some time to be made.

“I went to Argentina to work as a commentator for the Charlo-Castaño rematch, and even before that they told me that they wanted me to fight Jamal James back in June or so. Back then, they told me that I was going to fight Rasheed Ellis. I came back to the US and I started training for Ellis. But due to an injury I couldn’t take that fight, so I came back to Florida from Las Vegas to start working on my rehabilitation for that injury.

“And while that happens, I got a call for the call to let me know that I could fight against James in November. But two weeks before the fight, James got COVID and the fight was off. I was very disappointed, since I had to cancel my previous fight due to my injury, and all the expectations. I was also on call as a possible backup for Ugas-Spence Jr, and that was a lot of fights that had not materialized. I felt really angry and sad. I returned to Florida, and then during the Holidays I got the call to face James in February. So in January I returned to Ismael Salas’ gym and started getting ready for James, so I’ve had plenty of time to get ready.”

The timing for the fight may have been on and off, but the time seems to be perfect for Palmetta.

“Everything has a time and a perfect moment,” said Palmetta. “I am a very anxious person, I’ve signed up for fights that never materialized, and ever since I landed in the States I wanted to fight right away, all the time. Life is wise, everything happens at the right time. Jamal James is my next roadblock, and I believe I am on the way up and I am ready to face him. I think that James is the right opponent for me, he has a lot of vulnerabilities, and I believe I have a lot of advantages in my favor.”

The tale of the tape begs to differ, but Palmetta doubles down on his belief that he holds the higher ground.

“Everyone talks about our height difference, but that doesn’t matter, because obviously being the shorter man it’s more difficult for me but I am always at a disadvantage there, and I am used to that. Having worked (as a sparring partner) with Erroll Spence, Gervonta Davis, Adrien Broner and all of the fighters that Ismael Sala has in the gym gave me a lot of experience, all of that gives me the experience to take on Jamal James now. And I love this fight.”

His expectations for his fight – and beyond – are quite lofty, but he insists that this is the perfect time and the perfect foe to take his career to the next level.

“It will be an intense and intelligent fight,” said Palmetta. “Jamal is an intelligent fighter, he’s very technical and has great style. And I love working on those features, trying to find the mistakes, the openings, playing that waiting game to see who makes the first mistake. What Jamal has shown in his fights is that he can’t handle pressure. We can appreciate his record and his level of opposition, but most of the time he wins narrowly or by split decision. He had to work hard for his wins.

“Even Diego Chaves, who was stopped by James, was winning on points by the time of the stoppage. So he does have vulnerabilities, but he has a lot of heart and determination, and that makes him a tough opponent. I see a back-and-forth fight between two fighters who will put it all on the line. I want to win, I want to continue growing as a fighter, and I want to get that world title, which is he one thing I want the most.”



Diego M. Morilla writes for The Ring since 2013. He has also written for HBO.com, ESPN.com and many other magazines, websites, newspapers and outlets since 1993. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and an elector for the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He has won two first-place awards in the BWAA’s annual writing contest, and he is the moderator of The Ring’s Women’s Ratings Panel. He served as copy editor for the second era of The Ring en Español (2018-2020) and is currently a writer and editor for RingTV.com.