On Saturday, December 10, 2016, Abner Mares (30-2-1, 15 KOs) reignited his career with a strong performance and victory over Jesus Cuellar (28-2, 21 KOs) to win the WBA Featherweight title.
The fight was Mares’ first action in the ring since a decision loss to Leo Santa Cruz in August of 2015, as well as the first under the direction of new trainer, Robert Garcia.
Many boxing fans and pundits wondered how Mares would perform after such a long layoff and if Garcia’s tutelage would make a difference.
Mares quieted doubters early on in the fight as he came out looking sharp, relying on his strong boxing ability as opposed to just playing to the crowd and brawling.
After the fight, Mares spoke about his comeback, working with Garcia and what fans can expect in 2017.
“The last year has been a tough one and for those that never gave up on me, thank you. For those that chose to cast doubt, thank you. All of you drove me to show you the warrior and athlete that I am and I have the WBA Featherweight title to prove it,” said Mares.
“A year ago I switched trainers and started working out with coach Robert Garcia in Riverside, CA. I trained six days a week, drove 90 minutes each way and committed myself to the things that coach and I talked about. Reigniting my boxing skills, showing the focus, strength and most importantly, patience that makes a champion a champion,” said Mares.
Indeed, Mares did well in sticking to his game plan, opting to box and ignore the power-punching Argentine’s calls to make it slugfest.
Mares surely proved many naysayers wrong with his performance and showed that he’s still a force to be reckoned within the sport.
“I’ve never been gone, some just chose to forget all the work I’ve done, opponents I’ve taken on and beaten, and the businesses I’ve built in this sport. As I said last night, I will take on and want all comers,” said Mares.
Mares stated that he is ready to keep pushing towards more big fights and championships in 2017.
“2017 is going to be an amazing year –every year is MY year. I’ve never taken an easy route, but my path is one of a champion and it always will be. I’m in boxing for the long haul. I am not leaving. From the new faces I’m bringing to Team Mares to the excitement I bring to the ring, you will want to be part of what we’re planning for next year,” concluded Mares.
The 31-year-old Mares will have tons of options for big fights in 2017 in and around the busy Featherweight division, including potential matchups against Carl Frampton, Leo Santa Cruz, Gary Russell Jr. and Lee Selby–to name a few.
Who would you like to see Mares take on next?
All photos by Stephanie Trapp/Showtime