SAN DIEGO, December 10, 2016 – Three-time world champion Abner Mares knew he needed to deliver the best fight of his career after a loss and a year-plus layoff Saturday night in Los Angeles. Otherwise, he’d risk falling out of the top tier of a competitive featherweight division.
In front of a lively crowd of 5,680 at the Galen Center on the campus of the University of Southern California, Mares did exactly what he and new trainer Robert Garcia planned to do, and it delivered his fourth division title. Mares took a split decision from Jesus Cuellar of Argentina, and is now the WBA world featherweight champion. Scores were 117-110 and 116-111 for Mares, with judge Kermit Bayless scoring it 115-112 for Cuellar.
It’s a headscratcher how Bayless gave Cuellar the score he did. Mares (29-2-1, 15 KOs), 31, controlled the action and showed his skills as a boxer and brilliant counter puncher. Cuellar (28-2, 28 KOs), 29, who said he wanted to knock Mares out, had good moments and was in the fight throughout all 12 rounds, but he was often caught by Mares’ speed and power.
Mares caught Cuellar in the 11th round with a perfect counterpunch, putting him down with a minute left in the round. Mares tried to finish Cuellar off, but he knew how to survive.
The win was also of significant to Mares’ trainer, Robert Garcia. Mares is his tenth world champion. After the bout, an elated Mares credited Garcia for the game plan that allowed him to win. “Robert, we had the perfect game plan… When I fought Leo (Santa Cruz), I beat myself because I fought the wrong fight. My coach told me, ‘Abner, he’s going to do that, he wants to brawl’ but we had the perfect game plan.” Mares said he also proved he’s got power, too.
Mares says he’ll be watching the rematch between Santa Cruz and Carl Frampton in January, and he’d like to fight the winner. “I’m a champion, I want a champion,” said Mares.
A disappointed Cuellar said he thought the fight was even until the knockdown. “He definitely had the boxing skills going today. I would have preferred it nice and rough, but he had it today.” Cuellar said he’s like a rematch.
In the co-main event, Jermall Charlo. (25-0, 19 KOs) scored an impressive fifth round knockout over Julian “J-Rock” Williams (22-1-1, 14 KOs) to remain undefeated and retain his IBF super welterweight title.
Charlo scored a flash knockdown of Williams in the second round, and Williams recovered nicely. It gave Charlo an air of confidence in the bout as he mixed up punches and pressured Williams. The big damage was done when Charlo slipped a jab from Williams and hit him with a perfect counter left right upper cut. Williams fell forward. Watching a replay of the punch, it was amazing he got to his feet at all. The referee allowed the fight to continue for a few more seconds, but Williams could not defend himself and the fight was over at 2:02 of the fifth round.
CompuBox stats were nearly dead even at the point of the stoppage. Charlo landed 48 of 181 total punches (27 percent), Williams 46 of 175 punches (26 percent).
The knockout wasn’t the most dramatic part of the fight. Charlo and Williams continued the animosity expressed between them during pre-fight activities after the fight. The Los Angeles crowd booed Charlo when he refused to acknowledge Williams after the bout.
A few minutes later, Charlo told Showtime’s Jim Gray he tried to apologize for his remarks to Williams before the fight. “I did what I had to do to become champion of the world and I deserve respect as a fighter, as a boxer putting my life on the line. He disrespected me all the way up to the fight… I made the fight happen, I gave the fans what they wanted to see. I stayed at 154 pounds although I do want to move up to 160 just to fight someone the world said I couldn’t be.
Charlo said he told Williams “I don’t want your apology, I don’t want your congratulations. My emotions took over me, that’s not me.”
Then Charlo’s defiance rose again. “I stayed in there and banged and the shot went home. I was getting stronger. I’m not going to let you all rob me of my character. I didn’t ever disrespect this dude until I knocked him out.
Charlo said he’d like to move up to the middleweight division, but he said he wouldn’t mind a unification fight at 154 pounds, super middleweight. “Cinnamon, where you at Cinnamon?” said Charlo, referring to 154-pound title holder and former lineal middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. Later at the post fight news conference, Charlo said he’d also be willing to face the monster of the middleweight division, Gennady Golovkin. How refreshing since the other titleholders in the division want nothing to do with “Triple G.”
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 +
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