McGirt’s somewhat up-and-down career, at least of late, found him losing for the first time on April 11 to a fighter he had out on his feet, Carlos "Baby Sugar" DeLeon (20-2-2, 12 KOs), rebounding from that with an impressive performance on ESPN to defeat former IBO and WBU middleweight champion Raymond "Hallelujah" Joval (37-4, 16 KOs) by 10-round decision last July, which moved McGirt up as high as No. 8 in The Ring’s ratings, but then fighting a disappointing 10-round draw with Marcus Upshaw (8-3) in his last fight this past November.
"I need to stop taking people lightly," McGirt admitted. "This isn’t a joke; boxing is a serious sport. I looked past him (Upshaw) to an HBO fight in January (since scrapped). He trained for 5-6 weeks and really came to fight. I take my hat off to him. I had to lose some weight at the end that I shouldn’t have had to worry about and I paid the consequences. I am now working hard to take control of myself, mentally. Guys are coming to beat me and my father (former 2-time world champion and James’ trainer, "Buddy" McGirt). They bring their ‘A’ game. I hurt him (Upshaw) in the first round and then waited around too long, loading up for a one-punch knockout. If the fight’s easy, I get lackadaisical and go into a slump for a few rounds. Before I know it, I’m behind, and then I need to come on. I had a bad day, got a draw, and now there’s nothing to do now but learn from it and move on. I want to fight the top middleweights but, mentally, I have to be in control. It’s not like in basketball when you’re in a zone and you feel nobody can stop you. You can’t do that in boxing because punches are being thrown at your head."
— James McGirt, Jr., in a press release. That's some humble, honest stuff.