He recovered from a mid-career swoon to earn a WBO middleweight title fight against Thomas Hearns, which finished using a close loss. Kinchen finally became a pastor after stopping his boxing career, and was elected to the California Boxing Hall of Fame in the year 2012.
James “The Heat” Kinchen was born on March 1, 1958, in Texas. He started boxing at age 15, together with the aim of getting his image featured in his hometown paper, The McKinney Gazette. Kinchen went to win the National Police Athletic League light heavyweight title in 1978. After embarking on his professional career in 1980, Kinchen established a formidable presence in the ring.
But Kinchen’s career took a sudden, astonishing decline. He suffered his first loss to James Shuler in February 1985, and was saddled with back to back defeats by Iran Barkley and Juan Roldan shortly later. A third loss in the period of four fights, to Larry Musgrove in August 1987, apparently left him headed for boxing oblivion.
Kinchen not only was able to salvage his career by moving up a weight class, he earned himself another shot in an important title. After the creation of the World Boxing Organization sanctioning body, Kinchen met ring star Thomas “Hitman” Hearns for its empty super middleweight belt in November 1988. Despite dropping Hearns in the fourth with a strong right, Kinchen wound on the losing end of a contentious judges’ verdict.
Kinchen stayed among the most notable competitors, but the Hearns fight could be the closest he came to that elusive title. Kinchen fought only twice more professionally, ending using a loss to Ernesto Magdaleno in April 1992 that left him with a career record of 49-9-2.
Like many fighters, Kinchen put fiscal problems after leaving the ring, but heeventually found his ground as a pastor in the San Diego region. Although he fell just short of big time boxing celebrity, Kinchen’s still-remarkable livelihood earned its expected acknowledgement along with his induction to the California Boxing Hall of Fame in the year 2012.