The 2021 Florida Boxing Hall of Fame inductee Orlando Cuellar has trained several former world champions and world title challengers throughout his forty-plus year career, including but limited to Glen Johnson, Antonio Tarver, Juan Carlos Gómez, Nicholas Walters, Odlanier Solís, Erislandy Lara, Ricardo Cordoba, among others. He is training two former world champions, Jean Pascal (36-6-1, 20 KOs) and Rances Barthelemy (29-2-1, 15 KOs), at the South Beach Boxing gym in Miami Beach, Florida.
Pascal, the five-time former light heavyweight world champion, is fighting IBF Inter-Continental titleholder and former unified IBF/WBC and WBO Youth champion Michael “Diesel” Eifert Thursday, March 16th, at the Place Bell arena in Laval, Québec, Canada, LIVE on ESPN+ in a twelve-round main event. This bout is an IBF title eliminator to determine who becomes the mandatory challenger for IBF (WBC/WBO) light heavyweight world champion Artur Beterbiev (19-0, 19 KOs). The IBF ranks Pascal third, while Eifert is fifth (the first two spots are vacant). Pascal is also ranked third by the WBO. This is the second consecutive fight that Pascal will have Cuellar in his corner following his twelve-round unanimous decision victory over then-unbeaten Fanlong Meng (17-1, 10 KOs) in May of last year.
The Cuban-born former amateur boxer got honored with the Special Achievement Award by the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame in 2020. Cuellar is a two-time nominee for Trainer-of-the-Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 2004 and 2010. His fighters have fought in over twenty world titles.
Cuellar was gracious enough to take time out of his busy schedule to discuss how Pascal’s training camp went, Pascal’s fight against Eifert, what he wants to see Pascal improve on in the gym, his thoughts on being inducted into the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame, and much more.
James Stillerman: How did Pascal’s training camp go?
Orlando Cuellar: It went well. We did not have the rust factor like we had with the Meng fight, where he was out of the ring for thirty-one months, trying to make 175 pounds and fighting a younger fighter in his own backyard. It was a test for Pascal and me to prepare for that fight. This time around was smooth sailing for us. We are not looking past Eifert, but we feel good about our chances.
James Stillerman: How do you see his fight with Eifert playing out?
Orlando Cuellar: Eifert is a classic boxer. He will want to box, move around, and get Pascal to use his legs. Eifert is twenty-five years old, a young man. They feel they have youth on their side, and with good conditioning, they can steal the victory. Pascal should be heavily favored in this bout. I do not believe Eifert can stop Pascal, so we expect a lot of movement and fast hands. If we have to make adjustments, we will.
James Stillerman: How did you and Pascal come to team up?
Orlando Cuellar: This is my second fight with him. We have worked together for two years and developed an excellent fighter-trainer relationship. He has his experience, and I have mine. We match up well.
James Stillerman: What would you like to see Pascal improve on in the gym?
Orlando Cuellar: I look at every fighter differently and see what they need to be successful. I teach my fighters to be pressure fighters with head and body punches, cutting off the ring, elusiveness, pairing back, and countering. With Pascal, I want him to throw more punches, and have better rhythm, balance, footwork, and explosiveness. I have him do a lot of work in the gym on things he needs to do to bring back his youth. He is forty years old, and fighters of that age are not supposed to have a lot of explosiveness, but with proper training and nutrition, he can be a more youthful fighter.
James Stillerman: How long have you worked with Barthelemy?
Orlando Cuellar: I turned him professional a year after he left Cuba and had him for his first fourteen fights [14-0, 11 KOs]. He smashed everyone along the way. Rances [former two-division world titleholder] called me about four or five weeks before his fight with [Gary Antuanne] Russell [in July 2022] and wanted me to be his trainer again.
James Stillerman: Do you train any other world champions?
Orlando Cuellar: I do not train more than two world champions at the same time. They need 150 percent of my time, and I am a hands-on trainer, so I put a lot of time and energy into my fighters. I do not want to overload myself because that never works out.
James Stillerman: What was it like to be inducted into the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame?
Orlando Cuellar: That induction came as a surprise. You never think that all the work you do will make you a hall of famer. It was a humbling experience and one of the greatest joys for me outside of seeing my children born. It was an incredible experience and still is. I even got a tattoo to commemorate it.
For more information about Cuellar and the latest updates on the fighters he trains, connect with him on Instagram @commanderzero.