Jesus Cuellar vs. Abner Mares Media Conference Call Transcript
Thank you all for joining us. As you know that we have a great fight card on Saturday, June 25, SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING on CBS presented by Premier Boxing Champions at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The main event between Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter for the welterweight championship is one of the most eagerly anticipated fights in all of boxing. And tickets have been selling very, very well.
We’re really lucky to have a co-feature of great significance and a tremendous, a really quality competitive co-feature bout between champion Jesus Cuellar and Abner Mares.
The televised coverage for the show begins at 9 p.m. Eastern time, 6 p.m, Pacific time with the featherweight world championship between Cuellar and Mares opening as the co-main event.
Tickets for the live event start at $42. They are on sale right now that you can purchase online by visiting Ticketmaster.com, Barclaycenter.com, by calling 1-800-745-3000. And they are available at the box office at Barclay Center and any Ticketmaster location.
The champion, Jesus Cuellar from Buenos Aires, Argentina, the WBA featherweight champion, is 28-1 with 21 KOs. He won the interim title in 2013. He was elevated to a full champion in 2015.
He’s made five successful defenses. He’s coming off a 12-round unanimous decision over Jonathan Quendo in his last fight at Barclays Center. He’s won 11 straight, just one loss in 2011.
He has his hands full with Abner Mares, a three-time world champion, former WBC featherweight champion, former WBC super bantamweight champion, former IBF bantamweight champion, coming off a 2015 Fight of the Year candidate when he lost the majority decision in a war to Leo Santa Cruz for the then-vacant WBA featherweight title.
One of boxing’s storied warriors, he has wins over Joseph Agbeko, Eric Morel, Anselmo Moreno, Daniel Ponce De Leon and Jonathan Oquendo. This is a tremendous fight and it would not be coming to, it would not be on CBS, it would not be SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING on CBS if not for the next gentlemen, and he’s the man that runs SHOWTIME Sports. I’d like to introduce you to Stephen Espinoza. Stephen.
Thanks, Lou. For this card, boxing is returning to CBS prime time for the first time in nearly 40 years. As most of you heard by now, the last CBS primetime boxing telecasts was Ali-Spinks in 1978.
And for an occasion this special, we wanted to make sure that we were representing the best that boxing has to offer and that’s what these two fights are. These matchups, these fighters, are the best that the sport has to offer.
We’re putting our best foot forward; both the main event and the co-main events features matchups of the top five in their divisions, Thurman and Porter and Cuellar and Mares.
With respect to this particular fight itself, I can’t really decide which of the two matchups I’m more excited about. Jesus Cuellar has clearly established himself with a great resume. He is a dangerous puncher.
Abner Mares, as you guys all have seen on SHOWTIME, is one of the most entertaining fighters in any weight class. And this is a matchup that features great styles, great boxers in the ring and very gracious competitors outside the ring. This, again, is the best the sport has to offer. We’re proud to be bringing it to you. Thank you, Lou.
Thank you, Stephen. I’m going to start with the challenger to let him say a few words. I’ve been a big fan of this guy for a long time, one of the most exciting fighters in all of boxing.
Never been in a bad fight. Never given less than 100 percent. And he knows he has his hands full with Mr. Cuellar, but he’s looking to get his fourth world title. It’s my pleasure to introduce Abner Mares.
How are you guys doing? I’m truly, truly blessed and really excited to be showcased on such a big card as Thurman and Porter against a champion like Jesus Cuellar, a great champion and in his prime, in his time, young, strong.
Just how I like them, man. These are the type of fights I like. I’ve never been in a bad fight.
Win or lose, I always give it my all. In this fight, it definitely won’t be any less. It’s going to be a tremendous fight, a fight that I’m looking forward to for myself, for my career, for my family because winning this fight will make me a four time world champion.
Not only that, the first time being in New York, taking this as a family trip as well and I’m really, really blessed and excited to be facing Jesus Cuellar.
It’s everything put together — a tremendous fight against the tremendous fighter on primetime. What more can you ask for? I’m really blessed, really excited and working my butt off so I can give you guys the best on June 25.
Thank you, Abner. And now to the champion, Jesus Cuellar. He’s a WBA featherweight champion of the world, 28-1 with 21 KOs, Jesus Cuellar.
We’re here. We’ve been training for over two and half months already and grinding and training really hard for this fight so I’m ready for June 25.
Is this kind of the way they would want it Abner, taking the toughest test available?
Definitely, definitely. It will grab people’s attention and that’s the key point I want to make, I’m the type of fighter that wants to leave his career known as the fighter that never took an easy route and faced the tough fighters at their moment, at their times.
And God willing, always came out on top. It’s not always going to be the same as my last fight, it was a great fight, a fight, against Leo that I didn’t win but I got the respect from people.
At the end of the day, that truly – you know, to me, that’s a title, to get the respect from the fans. So definitely, I’ve always chased the best and toughest opponent out there. No questions asked.
What is that relationship with Robert Garcia like and do you feel like you have insider secrets on your opponent heading into this fight?
You know what, I’m going to be honest, I don’t, because we barely ever even talk about, what kind of mistakes Cuellar makes or anything like that.
It’s basically just a training camp, where we are just learning day by day with our sparring partners and me being a student and Robert Garcia just telling me basically how to fight a southpaw and in this situation a southpaw that he knows very well. But we’re not focusing on anything he saw that he knows about Cuellar.
It’s mainly tapes that we’ve seen, his last fight, a few of his last fights and just based off of that and I think just my talent and my experience will definitely help out in this fight. More than anything, it’s just both of our experience put together and combine to make a perfect game plan for June 25..
Jesus, would you be able to comment on the split between you and Robert Garcia, why it happened, and was there any animosity? What is the new relationship in the gym with your new trainer is like?
I first want to talk about my trainer now. Juan Manuel Ledesma is the trainer with the national team in Argentina.
He’s known me for maybe 16 years. I was with him and he made me a champion a few times. He’s the only one that taught me and got me to where I am.
Also, that when I came to the U.S. I came to train with other trainers to figure something out because Juan was still with the national team, so the opportunity, when it presented itself, I brought him from Argentina when I was training with Robert Garcia.
I did not want to make the commute to Riverside. I was comfortable where I was and Robert didn’t have that much time to be there at the time.
I decided to train in L.A. at a pro boxing gym with all the Argentinians over there and that was just a decision I made. There wasn’t any animosity, any problems with Robert. Robert didn’t have the time to show up or to be there, so he did his own thing. And that’s why I went to LA.
Who are some of the fighters that you grew up watching or maybe want to imitate because you have a fairly unique style for a southpaw?
I admire a lot of fighters and one of the ones that I look up to is Erik Morales. I’m a unique fighter. I find my way, I like the way I fight. Juan Manuel Marquez, that’s another fighter I liked to watch when I was growing up.
Abner, in this fight, Cuellar has a slight advantage in height and reach. Do you see him posing any particular problem for you?
You’re always going to find problems in a fight. You could say he’s got pretty much all the advantages coming into this fight — height, reach, even weight and power.
But again, that’s what it’s all about, I think. Being in that ring, it wakes my instincts even more. I’m going to be aware more. I’m going to be smart in there and, yes, I’m going in there thinking that and it’s going to make me a better and more aware boxer.
I’m not worried, that’s the word. I’m not worried. It’s boxing. If I were, I’m in the wrong sport. I’m not afraid either. I’m just excited. I’m just excited to see what he brings in. I know he’s got the power. I know he’s got the pressure. So it’s just a matter of knowing how to deal with it.
What advantages do you have that you feel you can bring to the table? What weaknesses does he have that maybe you can attack?
Well, let’s see, I think I’ve got a bit more experience as far as being in there with more world-class fighters. The other one, I think I’ve been in there with punchers as well and I consider myself a better boxer. That’s pretty much what I think my advantages are.
But again, I’m focused more on what he has because that’s what we’re going to have to work on, on our behalf and I’m not going to say much because I don’t want to say too much.
We are ready for a tough, hard-hitting, pressure fighter in Cuellar. I’m excited more than anything to prove something to myself and to the fight fans.
Your last two losses have come in the last five fights, both in big title fights. What do you take from that and what is it exactly that you want to prove to yourself?
Well, definitely what I want to prove to myself is that I still belong in this level type of fight against top fighters such as Cuellar, Leo or any other top flight featherweight.
And I think the reason that, my two defeats, when you just go through them real quick, first- round knockout against Jhonny Gonzalez, it was just, he caught me cold.
My fight against Leo Santa Cruz, it was a tough fight. We went 12 rounds, it was a candidate for Fight of the Year, where I gave it my all but at the end of the day, I think I fought the wrong game plan during that particular fight. I think I defeated myself by not following instructions and not fighting a perfect plan.
I think that’s pretty much it. I’ve got a lot more to give, I’m going to show. Now with my new trainer and the new mindset that I have, I think I’m going to prove just that.
Do you anticipate that this fight is also going to be something that’s going to be a real shootout, something that is going to be a lot of action, start very quickly?
I think so. I think it’s going to be just that. In my mindset, they’re already thinking that it is going to be that way and that way my body is adjusted to it.
I am looking forward to that fire, to that brawling, to that toe-to-toe. That’s what we’re working hard for but at the end of the day, if we can make it an easier fight, from our side, for our benefit, it’s better for us. But if that’s not the case, knowing his pressure and style then we’re ready for that.
How do you mentally prepare for a fight like that knowing, with all the weigh-ins and the ring introduction and all that stuff that, when the bell rings, right at that point, it might get very fierce very quickly?
I don’t think there’s a proper way to prepare mentally for that. I think it’s just based on experience and the numerous times we’ve been in the ring. And just pretty much, yourself and the confidence that you should have on yourself and on the training and on the people that has helped to get to where you are.
Plus, my family is going for the first time. My kids are going to attend. So if anything, that’s not pressure. If anything, that’s motivation. So I’m really excited and looking forward to this show against Cuellar on June 25. Do not miss it. I’m excited.
Jesus, do you expect this to be a real toe-to-toe war or to start out that way?
We’re going to come out. We’ve been training for this fight and we’re doing it on our strategies. We’ve been working on them. For this fight, if the opportunity presents itself, we’re going to take the fight to him. But we’re working hard so we’re prepared for this fight.
Do you feel that you are a better boxer than Abner? He just said he thinks he’s a better boxer that you. But you think you are the better boxer of the two?
He said I have everything. I know how to box and I walk to the ring and I know how to fight and I also have the power.
This will be the best version of Jesus Cuellar that you see on fight night.
Does anybody want to make a prediction for this fight?
I’m going to win the fight. I’m coming to win and that’s it.
I’m winning come June 25, I’m going to win. I’m going to be the four-time world champion once again and I’m going to show you what Mexican fighters are made of.
Can you discuss the psychology of fighting a southpaw in general and in particular, what Robert Garcia might be imparting to you about Cuellar, without giving away too many secrets?
I’ve only faced three, and I know a lot of people say that they have difficulties fighting southpaws because you don’t fight them as much and it’s just different. They’re punching where they’re coming from.
But I get adjusted to them real well, real quick and Robert being in my corner for this fight, knowing Cuellar a bit, it’s definitely an advantage but I’m not really focusing on that. I’m not putting all my money on that side. It’s based really on what we’re working on, which is how to fight a southpaw puncher.
I think I’m a better fighter, skilled, faster. I’ve got great footwork and we’re just going to put it to work on the night. I’m ready to fight toe-to-toe with this guy as well.
I’m known for that. Winning an easy fight and then making it a brawl. But at the end of the day, the fight fans are going to get what they deserve, an exciting fight.
If a knockdown comes, it comes. I’ll get back up, I’ll take my eight count and then go on with the fight. I think you’ve got to be mentally prepared for that as well.
He’s one of those southpaws that you just like fighting because they just keep coming forward. And no matter if you’re hitting them, they keep coming. So it’s just a matter of how much my hands can take as far as my hands hitting his face.
Can you talk about the psychology of what it took mentally to come back from your first loss?
Losing in the middle of my career was an accident because I got rid of people that I didn’t need to have in my corner. It actually was a blessing because I got rid of people that I didn’t want, people that were there to screw me over.
But I actually fought at 122 pounds and he’s usually fighting at 126 and he killed himself to make weight because they offered him, if he won that fight, he was going to get a title shot.
It was a big contradiction doing that fight. It was a misunderstanding from the other company that used to manage me. Now I’m here. I’m with the manager that I want and I’m doing good.
Yes, you could get over it but you never forget. I won’t until I get revenge. I think it just happened to click. There was no fire the first round.
He just caught me cold. We were just barely getting to feel each other as far as punches. But it just happened. It’s part of the sport. You win some, you lose some.
You get knocked out. You knock somebody out. I think we start fight to fight. After that, it’s when you start knowing that it’s all better and all better.
I think that’s on my side, facing the top agenda fighters after that defeat. It has upped my confidence backup.
Is this personal for either of you? And if so, why or why not? First, Jesus, can you answer that question, is this personal?
It’s not personal. I’m not fighting his team. I’m not fighting Robert. I’m fighting Abner Mares. At the end of the day, the guy that stepping into the ring is Abner Mares and that’s it.
Definitely not personal on this. I have nothing against the guy. Met him a few times. Don’t know much about him and it’s just business. It’s a fight that’s been presented to me. I’m just going to go in there and try to destroy the guy because at the end of the day, it’s either him or me. So that’s it. Nothing personal.
Just one more time, this is the co-feature to Thurman-Porter. This is the WBA featherweight championship. The card is Saturday, June 25. SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING on CBS presented by Premier Boxing Champions at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Tickets are moving fast. Please get them. You can get them at Ticketmaster, outlet by calling Ticketmaster, by Barclaycenter.com, 1-800-745-3000, or at the Barclay Center box office and we hope to see you there.
If you can’t be there, televised coverage begins at 9 p.m. Eastern time, 6 p.m. Pacific time on CBS and this is live, a doubleheader of championship boxing on CBS primetime. This is the first time in years, so we’re making history. Please join us. Thank you for being on this call.
RBRBoxing provides quality news, interviews, round-by-round updates and videos about the sweet science.