Becoming the WBA regular welterweight champion of the world has changed everything for Jamal James, yet nothing seems to have changed him.

His Minneapolis gym, the Circle of Discipline, is moving into a new and much-improved space in an industrial park close to Nordeast, after their venerable building near the site of George Floyd's murder was bought by a new owner.

He has more financial stability, a belt, a measure of fame, and the pressure of defending his title.

Over the course of a long conversation with James and his trainer and mentor, Sankara Frazier, James sounds identical to the rising and unknown boxer who began moving up the ranks years ago.

Just as he did during an interview at the old Circle of Discipline when he was a little-known contender, James himself grabs a few folding chairs and sets them up so he, Frazier and a visitor can talk. James' "bling" is the wedding ring of a recently passed relative that he wears around his neck.

As always, the lengthy conversation veers from Motown to Prince to the "Godfather" trilogy and pro wrestling's roots in Minnesota, as well as the Circle of Discipline's vow to improve the lives of down-on-their luck Minnesotans.

Saturday in Las Vegas, James will face undefeated Russian Radzhab Butaev, highlighting a card that will begin at 9 p.m. on Showtime. The fight is a semifinal that will lead to a unified WBA champion.

"This is different,'' James said of the fight. "Slightly. But the way I look at it is every fight is a championship fight. It's different now because I am the champion so I can safely assume that everybody I fight from here on out wants my spot and might try a little harder. But I've got that extra want-to to keep that title, as well.''

James (27-1, 12 knockouts) holds the WBA secondary title. Butaev is 13-0 with 10 knockouts. Yordenis Ugas will face Eimantas Stanionis in the other semifinal.

James' only professional loss came against Ugas in 2016. "So if I beat my guy and he beats his guy, we'll fight each other,'' James said. "I know I'm going to win, so it's up to him.''

The boxing world's alphabet soup and myriad titles can be confusing, but James' philosophy is simple: Win fights and influence people.

He grew up in Minneapolis with Frazier acting as his father figure and trainer and the Circle of Discipline as his anchor.

James rose from an unknown fighter in a faded boxing market to the championship ranks while working odd jobs and dedicating himself to public service along with the Circle of Discipline, which provides athletic training and life mentoring for Minneapolis youth.

The Circle's new home at 801 9th St. SE in Minneapolis is pristine and cavernous. The owners of the space already have an indoor soccer field and are planning to build sound studios next door.

Frazier envisions a place where disadvantaged children and anyone down on their luck can find counseling, education and a variety of physical activities, from gymnastics to boxing to yoga.

James wants to help people travel overseas, and he already volunteers time on the weekends to teach financial literacy.

Frazier dreams of the Circle's training camp in Barnum, Minn., becoming a campus where people can escape the city occasionally.

"People need to get away sometimes and it really helps their minds," Frazier said. "Bike trail, hiking, fishing, hunting, the whole thing. And you can just sit around and talk without worrying about somebody coming by and blowing your head off."

Winning fights helps James make a living and improve lives.

"Man, this place is amazing," he said, looking across rows of treadmills and cross-trainers. "This is my new temple, my new home. I foresee us being able to help a lot of people."