Featherweight world champion Jesus Cuellar and former three-division world champion Abner Mares went face-to-face for the first time Thursday as they hosted media roundtables in Los Angeles ahead of their showdown on Saturday, June 25 showdown live on CBS from Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING on CBS, presented by Premier Boxing Champions, begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and is headlined by the highly anticipated welterweight clash between welterweight world champion Keith Thurman and former world champion Shawn Porter.
Tickets for the June 25 event, which is promoted by DiBella Entertainment, start at $49 and are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased online by visiting www.ticketmaster.com, www.barclayscenter.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000. Tickets are also available at the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center. Group discounts are available by calling 844-BKLYN-GP.
With both men training in California, the two met for the first time at The Palms Restaurant about their fight and respective training camps before they head east to Brooklyn for the primetime battle.
Here is what the participants had to say Thursday:
“I’ve been training very hard for this fight. You will see on June 25 that I have one of the best chins out there. I’m excited to finally have this fight.
“I have no bitterness towards Robert Garcia. I’ve seen him and I’m thankful for him making me a champion. This is business. This is work.
“We’ve been training in Big Bear for a little over two months now so I’m pushing myself very hard for this fight. I’m thankful for this great opportunity and I want to make the most of it.
“On June 25, I will once again give it my all and leave it all in the ring. At the end of the fight I will prove who the champion is and raise my hand in victory.
“I’m focused and well prepared. I’m ready for anything that happens. I know I’m going to win the fight. It doesn’t matter how, but I’m going to win.
“This is the same team we’ve had for four years, whether Robert Garcia is here or not. We’re ready to take on anyone.
“We’ve wanted this fight for two years and finally it is the time. We’re going to be in great shape and I know Mares will be in great shape too. We’re very happy that the fight was made. June 25 I’m going to prove that I am the number one featherweight champion.
“I’m just excited to go in the ring and give my best on June 25. I’m going to bring the victory home to Argentina.
“I’m thankful to be an Argentine champion and I’m happy to represent my country as the only world champion right now.”
“I’m really happy to be a part of this card against a really tough fighter in Jesus Cuellar. I know he’s mentioned that he wants to fight me and I’ve never been scared to do so. It’s all about timing. Now he’s going to know what it’s like to fight a top level fighter.
“I’ve been in boxing for many years. I’ve fought many tough fights. Against Leo Santa Cruz it wasn’t the outcome that we wanted, but we showed that we have the heart and the intelligence to fight top level guys.
“I’m happy that I’m fighting some with a legacy. Jesus Cuellar is a tough fighter, he hits hard and I respect him. I have nothing bad to say about him as a person. I know he’s going to be well conditioned, but I’m a level higher and I’m going to show it on June 25.
“This is a fight that I can gain so much and Robert Garcia too. He’s going to show, through me, that it was a big mistake for Cuellar to leave him.
“I feel great about the Santa Cruz fight, despite the loss on my record. It was a win, because I gained so much, a lot of respect and a lot of experience.
“I have a lot of reasons to be excited about this fight. One, I’m finally going to New York. I’ve never been there in my life. Two, I will become a world champion again. Three, I’m definitely fighting a top-level fighter. As I’ve mentioned many times before, I like these types of fights. It always brings out the best in me.
“Against Cuellar you’re going to see a different Abner, a new Abner. With Robert Garcia as my coach I have the slight advantage that he once trained Cuellar and took him to a world title. He’s a tough fighter, but he can’t say I’m not either.”
JUAN MANUEL LEDESMA, Cuellar’s Trainer
“We worked with Robert for four fights. We worked together and made Jesus a better fighter. Now there is the opportunity to continue working with Jesus, so I see no controversy or problems there.
“The long camp was what we needed. We needed to clear up some stuff and work on some things that were lacking. We got extra time in the altitude and being in Big Bear we are away from any distractions. Jesus is focused on what he needs to work on.
“Abner Mares is a great, skilled fighter. We have been working together to perfect the skills that we need to bring into the fight. When the day comes, we will be ready for the fight.”
ROBERT GARCIA, Mares’ Trainer
“When Mares first started working with me, we had no idea we were going to fight Jesus Cuellar. Now that we’re back in camp, I definitely have to take advantage of all the things I know about Cuellar. He has weaknesses that I know and I’m working on them with Abner.
“Abner is a fighter who over the last few years has given a lot of exciting brawls and great fights. Abner has tremendous skills though. When I met him years ago he had those skills but they weren’t being honed. People will think I taught him these skills, but I’m just bringing them back.
“Cuellar leaving me was the best thing that could have happened. If Cuellar hadn’t left, I wouldn’t have Mares. I got a great fighter and a great person. Things happen for a reason. We are going to do great things in boxing.”
STEPHEN ESPINOZA, Executive Vice President & General Manage, SHOWTIME Sports
“Right now there is some criticism of boxing, that the best aren’t fighting the best. All you have to do is look at this card. These are the right fights. The right weight at the right time.
“June 25 we have two marquee matchups. All four fighters ranked in the top 10 in their respective divisions taking on each other. Thurman and Porter, Cuellar and Mares, this is the best doubleheader of the entire year. I will put these two fights against any doubleheader that airs on television. That was our focus when we turned to CBS for this broadcast.
“The Thurman v. Porter and Cuellar v. Mares fights showcase fighters in the primes of their careers. What we have here are four fighters that are willing to take on the best, not make a spectacle of it. The go about their business with great care for the craft and they simply come to fight.
“Featherweight is one of the hottest divisions in the sport. You know Abner Mares, he has one of the best resumes in boxing. If you look at the list of fights that he has had, there aren’t a lot of big names on it and now the New York City fans will get to see what he has to offer.
“The champion, Jesus Cuellar has quietly put together his own very strong resume. What we have here is a fascinating matchup.”
KEVIN ROONEY, Director of Communications, DiBella Entertainment
“We’re truly honored and excited to promote this fight. Lou DiBella said at the New York presser for the main event that this is ‘the best this sport has to offer.’ These are not only tremendous world title matchups, but two of the biggest and most exciting matchups that can be made in their respective divisions taking place at Barclays Center, the premier sporting venue on the East Coast.
“A testament to how big an event this is, is how the tickets are moving. We are hoping and anticipating that some fans will make it over from the West Coast.
“Robert Garcia trained Jesus Cuellar for much of his career and the two won a world title together. Robert Garcia is here today but with his new charge, Abner Mares. The two have their first fight together and they believe that this will be the best Abner Mares we have ever seen.
“For Cuellar it will be his second fight with Juan Manuel Ledesma, but the two have worked together since Cuellar was a kid. It should be exciting to see how it plays out on fight night.
“We know that Sergio Martinez will be there on fight night to cheer on his fellow countryman in Jesus Cuellar and we look forward to seeing an exciting fight.”