Jesus Cuellar vs. Abner Mares - Dave Mandel Showtime
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Jesus Cuellar vs. Abner Mares Media Conference Call Transcript

Jesus Cuellar vs. Abner Mares Media Conference Call Transcript

Jesus Cuellar vs. Abner Mares - Dave Mandel Showtime

Richard Schaefer
Thank you very much, and thank you to all the media for being on today’s call. It was an interesting weekend, but boxing goes on and boxing goes on in a big way here on Saturday, December 10 as a SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING doubleheader with two toe-to-toe fights that will electrify the sport, and I’m really excited to be able to host and promote this card here from Galen Center in Los Angeles.

The fight we are discussing today is for sure going to be one of those potential Fight of the Year candidates, and I know these days those words are being used quite a bit, but I really feel these fighters are right for each other. This is a fight in one of the most stacked divisions in boxing. Before I introduce the two fighters, just some other things, the card will take place from the Galen Center at the USC Campus in Los Angeles.

The Galen Center is a first-class arena. It’s actually the newest indoor arena in and around Los Angeles. Televised coverage will begin at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT for those people who can’t make it to the Galen Center. The co-main event is really a main event in its own. It’s one of the most anticipated and asked for fights in another great weight class, the Junior Middleweight division where you have arguably two of the best, if not the two best fighters in that division against each other: Jermall Charlo defending his title against top-rated challenger Julian Williams.

This is a fight Julian Williams has been waiting for, for a long time, and it’s a battle of unbeaten up and coming stars in their prime. There’s going to be a terrific, non-televised card as part of this event, as well. So, those people that are going to be able to make it out to the Galen Center, they’re going to really be in for a treat. I’m going to tell you about some of those fights, which my co-promotor, Tom Brown from TGB, has put together and I want to thank Tom for a job very well done. These are greatly matched fights, and I’m excited and looking forward to seeing them.

Included on the undercard is Junior Welterweight title eliminator featuring unbeaten Sergey Lipinets, with a record of 10-0, with 8 KOs, taking on Australia’s Lenny Zappavigna with a record of 35-2 with 25 KOs. Great matchups. They will also see a pair of undefeated prospects who are looking to cement their status as championship contenders. In the Super Welterweight division Erickson Lubin, who is 16-0, with 11 KOs of Orlando, Fla., and Junior Lightweight Mario Barrios, with a record of 16-0, with 8 KOs out of San Antonio.

The card will also include an array of local talent from Los Angeles or the greater Los Angeles area, including Oxnard’s Hugo Centeno, Jr. with a record of 24-1 with 12 KOs, former title challenger Josesito Lopez with a 33-7 record, with 19 KOs and personally one of my favorites. He’s always there to give a fight, just an amazing warrior and I’m happy to see Josesito Lopez on this card. Then we also are going to see Abner Mares’ younger brother, Adan Mares, who has a record of 14-3. I’m looking forward to having him there as well. It really is a can’t-miss night, and for those people here in Southern California, please come and see this card. It’s going to be great fighters, great matchups.

The doors are open at 3:30 pm, and the fights begins shortly thereafter. Tickets for the live event are on sale now, and they start at $35, yeah 35, what a steal. Students get a special $10 off. There’s a $25 student ticket available as well, and they’re available at www.galentix.com.

Now, the man who made is all happen and is not only a very close friend of mine but really a man with a passion for the sport of boxing, the Executive VP and General Manager, SHOWTIME Sports, Stephen Espinoza.

Stephen Espinoza
This fight is one of the fights I’ve been most excited about on this year’s schedule. As many of you remember, this was a fight that was originally set for June and had to be rescheduled. It was such a strong fight that we didn’t want to lose that, and I know that required some sacrifice from both fighters, and we’re deeply appreciative for that. That they’re willing to wait shows what kind of guys both these guys are, as they’re looking for a challenge and neither one wanted to walk away from what, as Richard mentioned, could be one of the best fights of the year.

This is the fifth Featherweight fight that SHOWTIME will be televising this year. It is one of the most talent, deep divisions, and we’re thrilled to have such a wealth of talent and thrilled to be focusing on it this year. It is a 50-50 fight between two fighters that are, in the consensus top six of the division supported by an incredibly strong undercard, and we are very happy and very proud to be ending the year on such a strong note. We look forward to December 10, and I’ll turn it over back to Richard.

R. Schaefer
Right, thank you very much Stephen. Now, it is a privilege for me to introduce to you Abner Mares. Abner Mares, as you all know is certainly one of the greatest fighters at this time to come out of Mexico. He was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. He was a 2004 Mexican Olympian and that is how long I’ve known him and how long I’ve been involved with his fights. He lives now and fights out of Downey, California and trains with one of the best trainers in his corner, Robert Garcia. If you look at his resume, it is as impressive as it comes. He is a former world champion at 118, 122 and 126 pounds, has really fought everybody and from Ponce de Leon, from Oquendo, from Moreno, from Darchinyan and the list goes on and on.

He will be fighting in California for the 10th time in his career, including his last bout which was a terrific Fight of the Year candidate against Leo Santa Cruz. Abner Mares is the kind of fighter, who in all the fights, has never been in a boring fight because he knows how to entertain. He wants to give it his best, and he has the will to win. Here he goes, at this point in his career, for yet another world title and it is a pleasure now to turn it over to Abner who can talk a little bit about training camp, what this fight means to him and maybe give us some Thanksgiving thoughts as well. Abner.

Abner Mares
Definitely, Richard. How you doing? I want to start out by thanking God. All you guys for making this possible, Richard, Stephen Espinoza and obviously, the great boxing fans out there who are always supporting and even the ones who are not there to support, they just give you a bad time, but you know at the end of the day, they support the sport in a way.

So, I’m really honored and privileged to be fighting December 10 in my hometown in LA. It’s going to be a great fight against a great fighter, Jesus Cuellar, a puncher, a guy who has a lot of strength, a guy that has lots to prove. Like Richard has mentioned, I’m just really looking forward to this fight. As you guys know, I’ve never been in a boring fight. I always entertain. I find a way to give you guys explosive fights and this will be just that. It will be an exciting fight, like Richard mentioned, this is perfect for an entertaining fight and I’m going to give you just that.

An early Christmas present to everyone, hopefully a late birthday present for me, since it’s going to be a week after my birthday. It’s going to be great. You can’t miss it, like Richard mentioned; in this stage of my career, I think this is my second wind. I’m looking forward to showing you guys a different Abner and what you guys don’t know already. This is going to be a year since I started training with well-known coach Robert Garcia, a whole year we had to train and get to know each other, so you will see the difference. So with that said, I think this is a fight you can’t miss on SHOWTIME. You can’t miss live at the USC Galen Center.

This is a Fight of the Year to close the end of the year and I’m looking forward to that — not so much looking forward to Thanksgiving like Richard said because we will still be on a diet, we won’t be able to eat as much, but obviously spending time with the family being thankful for everything that God has given us. It’s been a blessing. Thank you all for tuning in and thank you all again. I can’t wait for December 10th to make history once again and become a four-time world champion.

Q
Abner, you mentioned the year with Robert Garcia. How has it transformed you? How has it changed you from who you were?

A. Mares
I know once you get a new coach they tend to get a fight right away, and they tend to fight the next six to eight weeks, and you don’t see much of a difference. Why? Because you only have that small period of time to train and get to know each other, and I just mentioned a whole year with Robert and not only a whole year with Robert, a whole year of getting ready for this fight against a southpaw and you guys know what type of coach Robert is. Not only does he bring education to your boxing skills but also that motivation, it’s always good to have that motivation knowing that you have one of the best in your corner. So, you will see a different Abner and I think the best way to answer your question is you will just see a more mature fighter in me.

Q
A lot of people who are looking at this fight are saying that dealing with Cuellar’s strength and power is going to be the most difficult thing for you. How do you get through that and what are your own thoughts?

A. Mares
Once you get hit hard or anything that you can’t think of happens in the ring, I don’t think it’s based on your experiences, it’s more based on your willingness, your heart and the desire to continue. I think that comes from deep inside, and I think I have that. I think I’ve showed it in many fights. I’ve had difficult times in different fights, so I think it just comes from inside. You can’t teach that, but again, yes, experience has helped a lot to get you out of certain things but, again, I think this is going to be one of the smartest fights we’re going to be able to fight.

Q
How disappointed were you and how surprised were you that you would were not allowed to fight that particular bout in Brooklyn because of the location of the match?

A. Mares
Well, it was difficult. It’s not the first time something like this has happened to me — not in the sense of me being injured or anything but a fight being cancelled. I’ve had fights being cancelled or postponed, years back so it’s nothing different. But I am a human being, I have feelings, obviously, and I just felt sad at the moment because I love to fight.

Yes, I was disappointed, not so much in myself, just the situation, but, again, I have to take people back. I’ve got them pretty much fighting this whole year. I was supposed to fight in March, that got postponed because of an injury and then it got postponed for June and then that June fight got postponed so here we are December 10th, and again it’s just a way of seeing that mental strength and that circle you have around you. You know my family kept me strong and those long talks with my advisor kept me going and again here we are and still healthy and we will continue to give you guys good fights.

Q
Abner, could you at all just explain the situation with the eye. For whatever reason, they have different rules in New York, but can you explain what that situation is with that eye and which eye is it?

A. Mares
It’s like you said, different rules for different states. We know they’re stricter on that side. I think that tells you they’re stricter and then, obviously, the issues they’re having at the moment and it’s nothing bad. It’s something that happened in 2008. I have been fighting since. I’ve been cleared in every state I’ve fought in, other than New York. I fight in California, I fight in Texas, I fight in Vegas. I fight in Philly, too. I think there was a red flag for them because, obviously, I had surgery done again in 2008 and they just didn’t want to take the risk, but again I think, like Richard, myself and my doctor said, we’re good to go. We have been. I have the same risk. I don’t have it higher or less than any fighter out there. My surgery is done. I’m good and like any other fighter I have the same risk of getting one open in the ring, so there’s no risk higher of me getting one.

Q
Abner, which eye was it you had the surgery on back in ’08?

A. Mares
It was in my left eye.

Q
Abner, do you have any concern whatsoever about rust?

A. Mares
Not at all, you have to see it and look at it on the positive side. Obviously, I haven’t been in the spotlight, no cameras around me, no lights, but I’ve been active. Since March, I’ve been getting ready for the fight. Every single fight has been postponed the week of the fight, so I’ve practically done training camps for two fights. So, that does not worry me, but if it happens you will feel it in the ring, and it’s just a matter of adjusting to it. It wears off within one or two rounds and just getting the rhythm of the fight going. I think we’re safe and we’ll be good.

Q
Richard, when you started to go and work on this fight did you have any issues with Abner’s medical situation or were you were sort of like surprised it was postponed and then, when he went through the testing you were very satisfied that everything was okay? What was your take on the postponement because of New York?

R. Schaefer
I think, first of all, New York has other issues related to boxing to well. With the insurance requirement they had a very difficult year, New York, as it situates to what happened with all the ins and outs of the commission and I think anybody in boxing or anybody would agree it’s a bit of a mess out there. Then you look at California. I think California is one of the best run if, frankly, not the best-run commissions and so of course when the fight was postponed or cancelled or whatever in New York, I not only talked to Abner and his wife. They were both in my office and I talked to them, but I asked Abner for permission to actually talk directly with his attorney and with his doctor, who is one of the most recognized surgeons and specialists as it relates to eyes and eye injuries in the world.

When I talked to the doctor I asked him straight out, is Abner okay? He said yes. I asked him is Abner at a higher risk than any fighter who enters the ring and he said absolutely not and that gave me the confidence to go forward and promote this fight. I had the same conversations with the California Commission and their medical board was satisfied with their requirements to make sure Abner was okay because of course if it’s the commission or anyone involved in this fight, first and foremost is fighter safety and Al Haymon, Abner’s advisor, asked me numerous times, I mean numerous times, and he said look if we’re going to do this fight, make sure Abner is okay and make sure he is absolutely okay, and I feel confident that I did that and so we’re ready to go.

R. Schaefer
Okay, great. We’re going to have Jesus make some comment and then opening up for both fighters to answer any questions.

It’s a pleasure for me to introduce to you the current WBA Featherweight World Champion with a record of 28-1 with 21 knockouts. He’s one of those other tough, hard hitting, fighters coming out of Argentina, in this case Buenos Aries and he’s in his first fight under legendary coach Freddie Roach, so you’re going to have an interesting matchup there also with Robert Garcia’s trained fighter, Abner Mares, against a Freddie Roach trained fighter Jesus Cuellar and you know those two guys, Roach and Garcia are very competitive, and so I think that adds some extra spice to the matchup. Cuellar won his world title in 2013 and has gone to defend it five times since then, including victories over Rico Ramos, Vic Darchinyan and Juan Manuel Lopez. It is a pleasure now to introduce Jesus Cuellar.

Jesus Cuellar
I feel very good. We’ve had a great training camp with Freddie and my entire team. I have been concentrating on this matchup and looking forward to the fight with Abner.

R. Schaefer
Okay, very good so let’s open it back up to questions now from the media. Any more questions for Abner or Jesus Cuellar please.

Q
What did that fight against Santa Cruz tell you about what you have left to offer in boxing?

A. Mares
I think that part itself tells you what I have left. I gave it my all. I think it was a close fight and it lets you know I have a lot left. I gave a hell of a fight and it’s just different styles. It didn’t really tell me anything other than that I’m ready for anything. It was a great fight against a great fighter and that’s it.

Q
Abner, without giving away any strategy or anything, what do think are some of the biggest improvements you’ve made working with Robert Garcia?

A. Mares
Wow. So, many but I think that number one is definitely on my basic punches, the one, two, hook, three-punch combination. I think we perfected those plus sitting down more, turning more on my punches. It’s crazy how you might think you’re throwing your punches good, and you’re not this whole time. So, I think I’ve learned how to turn more on my punches, how to sit better on my punches and I think my power is coming out really good. My sparring partner has helped me and I think you will see improvement in my power and my defense.

Q
I know he probably doesn’t speak to you about this much, but can you tell me what it would mean for you, because as Richard mentioned before, there’s an obvious rivalry between Robert and Freddie. What would it mean for you to win one for him?

A. Mares
Yes, like you said we don’t talk about that. It has nothing to do with Freddie Roach. I think it’s a fight between a fighter and myself and just winning the fight for us as a team will mean the world to us. We have no desire on throwing this in anyone’s face. It’s just a win, and there’s no rivalry.

Q
Abner, when you think back about your journey and the opportunities you’ve had in boxing, what are you most grateful for? What are some of the things you’re most grateful for this month, in advance of Thanksgiving?

A. Mares
First, all of the great people I have around me. My circle, my friends, the opportunities I’ve had, and just the opportunity to be fighting for another world title before the end of the year is something I’m really grateful and then I thank, obviously, the great team, SHOWTIME, my advisor and then everyone for this opportunity. I’m really looking forward to making myself and my family proud for everything overall. Like you said, I came from nothing to something and there is something I’m trying to do in this sport and that’s to just try and be an example for my kids and for the young kids growing up that anything is possible.

Q
Jesus, how long have you been with Freddie Roach so far in camp and how has that made a difference in your style and your confidence going into this fight?

J. Cuellar
I’ve definitely learned a lot. I feel extremely improved. We have a lot of confidence heading into this fight. I want to thank God for the all the blessings I’ve had. It’s been nice to go back to Argentina, but this was a great opportunity to come up with Freddie and get ready for December 10th.

Q
Do you think that your power and your size advantage make you different from southpaws Abner has faced in any way? What do feel separates you from those southpaws and or anyone else that Abner has faced?

J. Cuellar
I know that I have the size advantage and I’m the bigger fighter but I certainly cannot rely on that. I realize this is going to be a difficult matchup, and I have to bring my best because Abner is a heck of a talent.

Q
What are you thankful for in advance of Thanksgiving?

J. Cuellar
I’m relaxed, I’m calm and I’m thankful that I’m going to spend the time with my family and friends.

Q
This past Saturday we saw a very controversial decision with Ward and Kovalev. Abner, I’ll begin with you, when you see a very controversial decision like that, as a boxer, does it bother you the fact that we’re still seeing controversy when it comes to the judges and does that motivate you at all to try to go for the knockout, not to leave it in the judges hands?

A. Mares
I’m sorry, I’m not going to lie. I did not watch the fight. I wasn’t able to see the fight, because I had a turkey drive the following day on Sunday, so I was getting ready for that, but obviously I saw the tweets, I saw everything. I heard about it, and I heard it was a really controversial decision, but I think there’s no judges like the people. I think those are the ones that you have to prove something to, not so much the actual judges in the ring.

Though, I think it’s divided. I think 50 percent think Kovalec won and another 50 percent think Ward won. Coming from the ground and getting back up and just winning the fight speaks a lot for him. So, again I did not watch the fight. I can’t go into detail, and for myself you just take that and put it on my fight. I don’t have to do anything to impress the judges. I think just my boxing itself. I think we have professionals up there, and they’re going to do their jobs, so I don’t even have to think about that or put that in my head that I have to do something different just to impress the judges. No, I’m going to go in there and just do my job.

Q
You mentioned before, after your last fight was cancelled, that you spoke with Al Haymon and he gave you some advice and counsel to lift your spirits. What advice did he give you after your last fight was cancelled?

A. Mares
Just having him as a friend, as an advisor, just being positive, him saying Abner ‘we’re in this together.’ Just hearing those words, ‘we’re in this together, we’re going to get through it, we’re going to get you a fight soon. Do not worry.’ That did it all. I was, obviously, I was still worried but it calmed me down. It calmed me down and like I said here we are a couple of weeks away and, again, I’m really thankful for my team.

Q
Jesus, everyone who saw you at the news conference was talking about how big you were. Is weight going to be a problem for this fight and traditionally have you ever had any weight difficulties?

J. Cuellar
No, I’ve never had any issues when it comes to weight and I’m very thankful again for the training camp we’ve had and continue to have and I’m ready for the fight.

Q
How much do you weigh right now?

J. Cuellar
130.

Q
Jesus, why did you want to fight Abner specifically?

J. Cuellar
Well, Abner is a fantastic fighter and you have to beat the best in the world to be the best. Now we just have to get ready for December 10th in Los Angeles.

R. Schaefer
Okay, great. I want to thank all of the media members again. I know that many of you from the East Coast are planning on being here for this fight. I just want to say, I know you guys are going to be treated to a very special night. I am going to host a spectacular media dinner on Friday night as well. This is my first fight back, and I really couldn’t have asked for a better doubleheader with Cuellar and Abner Mares and Charlo and Williams and all the other fights I mentioned before. So, I’m really excited about the fights, but I’m really excited to see you guys from the East Coast as well and appreciate the relationship that we have and look forward to working with you. I’ll see you in a couple of weeks and Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and all of your families. Thank you very much.

 

Photos by Dave Mandel/Showtime

 

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