Abner Mares decisions Jesus Cuellar – Results
By Dan Ambrose: In an impressive performance, 31-year-old former three division world champion Abner Mares (29-2-1, 15 KOs) defeated the bigger and stronger WBA World featherweight champion Jesus Cuellar (28-2, 21 KOs) by a 12 round split decision on Saturday night to rip his title away from him in a fight on Showtime Boxing from the USC’s Galen Center in Los Angeles. Mares surprisingly dropped the 30-year-old Cuellar in the 11th round to seal his victory. The final judges’ scored were 116-111, 117-110 for Mares, and 115-112 for Cuellar.
The difference in the fight wasn’t the punching power of either fighter. It was the hand speed and defensive skills of Mares. He was the much faster guy, and the more elusive of the two. The southpaw Cuellar was coming straight ahead all night long looking to take Mares’ head off with each shot he threw.
(Photo Credit: Stephanie Trapp/SHOWTIME®)
Sometimes Cuellar had success in landing his single shots, but most of the time he didn’t. He was missing and/or having his punches blocked by Mares. That was the real problem in this fight. Cuellar probably should have focused on throwing combinations instead of looking to land one big power shot at a time, because he made it too hard on himself to land. If he’d thrown combinations, he would have increased his chances of success.
“I feel so good, it’s been a long time,” Mares said. “We had the perfect game plan. I’m so happy. I’m blessed. I never doubted myself. When I fought Leo, I beat myself because I didn’t fight the right fight.”
In the 11th, Cuellar walked into a hard right hand from Mares that put him down on the canvas. It was a perfectly timed and placed right hand from Mares. Cuellar made it easy on Mares by walking into the shot. It was surprising that Mares was able to get a knockdown. If you were to pick one of the two fighters who would score a knockdown in the fight, you wouldn’t select Mares, because he didn’t have the same kind of punching power that Cuellar had going into the fight. But Mares showed that you don’t need to have explosive power to put a fighter down. All you need is speed, timing and talent. It helps when you’ve got an opponent who is just plodding in the way that Cuellar was all night long. Mares had a big advantage in the boxing skills department in this fight, and that played a big factor in him getting the ‘W’ tonight.
Mares likely would have won this fight even without the perfect game plan. He was simply the better fighter to begin with. Mares had the batter amateur and pro pedigree compared to Cuellar. The only things that Cuellar had going for him was his size and punching power. Cuellar looked like a welterweight after he rehydrated for the fight. The size difference between Cuellar and Mares was startling, because they were so far apart. Mares clearly didn’t have the size to bang with Cuellar, and yet he did much of the time. Mares stood his ground frequently in the fight and used his fast reflexes to dodge the big power shots of Cuellar and then counter him with blistering fast shots.
Having trainer Robert Garcia helping him prepare for the fight, Mares was in prime condition and more focused than he’d been in his previous match against Leo Santa Cruz. You have to wonder what Mares could have done in the Santa Cruz fight if he had Garcia training him for that match. It would have been interesting to see.
What was especially impressive about Mares’ win tonight was the fact that he was coming off of a long 15-month layoff from boxing since his last fight in August 2015 against Leo Santa Cruz. Mares lost that fight by a 12 round majority decision. He was out of the sport for a while with an eye injury. It wasn’t until the Cuellar fight came around that Mares was able to return. A lot of boxing fans felt that Mares would lose to the bigger and stronger Cuellar. Mares proved them all wrong.
Abner has won world titles at bantamweight, super bantamweight and featherweight. In beating Cuellar, Mares captures his second featherweight title in his career. He previously held the WBC featherweight title. Mares lost that belt in getting stopped by the big hitting Jhonny Gonzalez in the 1st round in 2013. Surprisingly, it took Mares three years to win another world title. That’s hard to believe, because Mares was a world champion from 2010 to 2013. It was thought that he would be a champion in one form or another a lot longer than just three years. Mares’ loss to Gonzalez derailed his career for a while, but it looks like he’s back on the tracks with his win over Cuellar.
The loss for Cuellar was only the second of his eight-year pro career. Cuellar was beaten five years ago by Oscar Edcandon by a 7th round knockout in 2011.