Mares vs. Cuellar, Charlo vs. Williams go to school, Showtime Boxing Saturday, 10 pm ET

Featherweights Abner Mares and Jesus Cuellar along with super middleweight Jermall Charlo and Julian Williams will be the big men on campus Saturday at USC's Galen Center.

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Jesus Cuellar and Abner Mares both made the 126 pound featherweight limit for their bout Saturday at USC in Los Angeles. Photo: Stephanie Trapp, Premier Boxing Champions

SAN DIEGO, December 10, 2016 – Three-time world champion Abner Mares of California hopes to get his career back on track and remind fans why he’s so exciting to watch Saturday night against Argentinian champion Jesus Cuellar. Cueller puts his 126-pound WBA world featherweight title up at the Galen Center on the campus of the University of Southern California Saturday. It will be broadcast in the U.S. on Showtime Boxing starting at .

Mares (28-2-1, 15 KOs), 31, lost a narrow decision lost over a year ago to countryman Leo Santa Cruz, who went on to lose his own narrow decision to Carl Frampton of Ireland. Mares suffered significant damage to his right eye, which has been a problem for him for several years. He’s had trouble getting a fight sanctioned, but finally got the OK from the California State Athletic Commission in October, allowing him to get a bout made in 2016.

Leo Santa Cruz put himself on the map with his victory over Abner Mares last August. Photo: Premier Boxing
Leo Santa Cruz put himself on the map with his victory over Abner Mares last August. Photo: Premier Boxing

Cuellar, (28-1, 28 KOs), 29, has a single loss in 2011. He had solid wins against Jonathan Oquendo and Vic Darchinyan, but hasn’t fought in 2016. So both men are coming off long layoffs into this must-win bout.

Mares is a powerful puncher who has faced a significantly higher level of opposition in more significant fights than Cuellar. He has won seven fights against current or former world champions. Mares thrives off the energy of his hometown fans, and they will be out in force for him in Los Angeles. Cuellar’s career is on the upswing, but the long layoff may hurt him.

Freddie Roach (left) and Robert Garcia renew a friendly rivalry on opposite sides of the Mares and Cuellar bout. Photo: Stephanie Trapp, Premier Boxing Champions
Freddie Roach (left) and Robert Garcia renew a friendly rivalry on opposite sides of the Mares and Cuellar bout. Photo: Stephanie Trapp, Premier Boxing Champions

Mares is now training with Robert Garcia in Oxnard. Cuellar recently left Garcia and has worked with Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach for this bout. Both fighters are aggressive, both can punch and both can take punishment. But Mares says his boxing skills are underestimated, and they’ll allow him to get the upper hand on Cuellar.

Cuellar says he plans to knock Mares out. Trainer Roach says Cuellar is a lot stronger than Mares, although he agreed Mares is a durable fighter. Roach is predicting a late round stoppage.

Mares proved tough against a tremendous effort by Leo Santa Cruz. He should prove to be an equal tough opponent against Cuellar. The pair may start out carefully and try to employ their boxing skills. But come on, who’s kidding here? The sooner it devolves to a war, the happier the fans will be. Someone may hit the canvas, but expect this one to go the distance in a narrow decision to Mares.

Jermall Charlo (left) and Julian Williams both say they'll bring it Saturday in Los Angeles. Photo: Stephanie Trapp, Premier Boxing Champions
Jermall Charlo (left) and Julian Williams both say they’ll bring it Saturday in Los Angeles. Photo: Stephanie Trapp, Premier Boxing Champions

The co-main event should also provide plenty of fan-friendly action with greater long term significance. Jermall Charlo takes on Julian “J-Rock” Williams in the super welterweight division. Charlo (24-0, 18 KOs) will defend his world championship for the third time against Williams (22-0,-1, 14 KOs), his toughest opponent to date.

In addition to the pressure of avoiding a first loss and a tile on the line, Charlo and Williams don’t especially like each other. Both like to get down to business and aren’t afraid to brawl. “We’re going to get down and dirty,” said Charlo.

Julian "J Rock" Williams believes it's his fight to lose on Saturday against Jermall Charlo. Photo: Ryan Greene, Premier Boxing Champions
Julian “J Rock” Williams believes it’s his fight to lose on Saturday against Jermall Charlo. Photo: Ryan Greene, Premier Boxing Champions

Williams respects Charlo’s strength and speed, but said he’s confident in his own skills and wants to be the junior middleweight champion. He’s on a three-fight knockout streak, none going past the sixth round. Charlo won a unanimous decision in his last fight over former world champion Austin Trout.

Charlo and Williams want to show off their power and both want to make a statement. They need to guard against getting careless when on offense, or they’ll get taken out by a punch they didn’t see coming. But if the fight goes the distance, fans will be happy to see it happen as long as the action keeps coming.

In a nearly 50-50 fight, we’re calling it for Williams, who has edge in skills, speed, and knockout power. But he can’t make a mistake.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +

Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News when quoting from or linking to this story. 

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