Featherweight world champion Jesus Cuellar and former three-division world champion Abner Mares went face-to-face Thursday at the final press conference before their world title showdown that headlines action this Saturday, December 10 at Galen Center at USC in Los Angeles and live on SHOWTIME®.
The press conference also featured super welterweight world champion Jermall Charlo and top rated challenger Julian Williams who meet in a battle of unbeaten rising stars that opens the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by Ringstar Sports and TGB Promotions, are on sale and are priced at $35, $50, $75, $150 and $200. To purchase tickets go to www.galentix.com.
Additional action on Saturday will be shown via SHOWTIME BOXING on Facebook Live at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and feature unbeaten contender Sergey Lipinets battling Australia’s Lenny Zappavigna in a junior welterweight world title eliminator and undefeated prospect Erickson Lubin taking on once-beaten Juan Ubaldo Cabrera.
Here is what the participants had to say from the Galen Center Founders’ Club:
“I’m feeling healthy and on weight. I’m really happy with the work I put in during camp and what I’ve accomplished so far.
“This is definitely the biggest fight of my pro career. This is historic and I definitely think that it will be a memorable fight for fans. Because of who I’m fighting and what we’re fighting for, it makes it crucial that I get the victory.
“I’m a warrior. My style is to be aggressive and fight with my heart. If I have to let the warrior out, I am ready. But if I have to box, I am ready for that too.
“We are finally here and we are ready. I am willing to give it all for this fight. I’m very excited to perform.
“I want to give the fans a great performance. I know that he will have a lot of support here in California, but I’m going to make them Jesus Cuellar fans. I will bring the heart of an Argentine warrior into the ring.
“Mares is a great fighter and has been a great champion. But I don’t think he’s ever faced anyone with my power or ability. It’s not going to be an easy fight for either of us, but I’m very confident that I will win and probably knock him out.
“I want to thank my great team for the amazing training camp. I am sure that I am going to bring my title back to Argentina.”
“People said I could have taken a tune-up fight, but there’s no point to that. Jesus Cuellar is one of the hardest punchers in the weight class. Of course I’m aware of his power, but I’m not scared. This is a contact sport. I can punch back.
“I’m looking forward to this test. Every single fight is a test for me. I’m going to make you guys believe. You will see a tremendous fighter in the ring on Saturday night.
“I’m really excited about this fight. It’s been a long year of waiting. It’s been a process. Having this fight so close to happening makes me really happy.
“I don’t pay attention to the fact that I’m a three-division world champion. That’s in my past and it’s my history. It’s always going to be part of me, but I’m looking for that fourth world title.
“He says he’s going to try to box me. If he wants to do something that’s not really who he is, that’s on him. We’re going to go in there and do what we do. We’re going to stick to a game plan.
“You guys know that I’m always going to give you a good fight. Win or lose, it’s always exciting. I fought last year and lost to Leo Santa Cruz, but I didn’t feel like I lost. It was a close fight and now I’m here. This is going to be an early Christmas present to the fans.”
“I had a great camp. Everyone stood by my side as I prevailed through camp. Everyone is here to support me. I’m fighting for more than a world title. I’m fighting to keep my legacy alive.
“There is no fighter equal to me. I grind different and I shine different. I’m not worried about what Julian does well. I’m focused on my game plan and doing what I can do well.
“This is a very interesting fight. I’ve been under these lights before and I’ve felt the pressure of a big fight. You always have to keep looking forward. I could easily have moved up to middleweight, but this is about legacy. This is about giving the fans what they asked for. That’s what I’m here for.
“As hungry as Julian talks, I expect him to come at me. I expect him to come in crazy, which is what I want to do. I’m going to use my brain and my smarts. I know when it’s time to turn it up. I’m a fighter. There’s nothing you can do when I’m placing my punches in the right places.
“I’m planning to fight fire with fire if I have to. If he comes to box me I plan on doing everything perfectly.
“I was near-sighted but now I can see perfectly. I’ve been fighting without perfect vision all my life so now I feel like it’s going to play a big factor in the fight. Things that used to be fuzzy won’t be fuzzy anymore.
“I’m going to fight. I hope he is too. I see a guy who’s ready to give go in there and give it his all. I also see a guy who’s ready to run into the traps I have planned for him.
“I don’t think for one second that I’m not going to win this fight. There’s not one second of this fight where my foot won’t be on the gas. This guy is coming to take my belt and I have not forgotten about that.
“Saturday night, it doesn’t matter where you’re from, or who you are, I know what I came to do, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
“I want to thank Jermall for being a true champion and taking this fight. It’s going to be a tough fight. We had a rough training camp, but it was really good. I’m really excited about this fight.
“I’ve been waiting a long time to prove to people what I can do. I’ve been underrated and overlooked a lot, but Saturday night is my time to shine.
“I don’t plan on losing any rounds on Saturday night either. Let’s give these fans what they want to see.
“The only way it’s not going to be a tremendous fight is if he doesn’t show up. I expect a firefight. I think this will be a shootout.
“I don’t want to say too much about my strategy, but this is going to be an amazing fight from the start till whenever it finishes.
“I feel really good and focused on getting the job done. Training camp has been amazing. We had about seven or eight sparring partners and it’s definitely the most intense training camp we’ve had.
“There’s always a lot of determination in camp but this is definitely the most important fight of my life. Of course all of my fights before were the most important at that point, so it’s just been building on that to lead to this moment.
“Records don’t lie. My record doesn’t lie. I’ve faced all different kinds of opponents. Fighters from everywhere. I’ve faced them all.
“There’s no beef. He might want to create a beef, but this is boxing. This is a business. He has something I want, and I’m coming to get it.
“I’ve been good on weight. I don’t struggle. I’m eating what I want. I ate breakfast this morning.”
“I can’t wait to go out there on Saturday night and show why I’m one of the best 154-pounders out there. I know that Cabrera is going to come ready to fight like I am and I hope people enjoy the show.
“I’m very happy with where I am in my career. I’m here on a great card ready to fight someone who is going to push me higher in the rankings if I get past him. I feel like everything is playing out how I wanted to and I just want to keep pushing it forward.
“I plan on putting on a great performance and then 2017 is going to be a huge year. I’m going to go right back to the gym after this fight. I love staying active and busy. I just always want to get better and stronger in the gym.
“I expect my opponent to come ready to fight. I expect every boxer to do that. He only has one loss and I plan on coming out victorious.
“Next year I’m looking for a world title shot. WBC, IBF, any of them. I’m coming for them.”
RICHARD SCHAEFER, Chairman & CEO of Ringstar Sports
“This is one of the best cards that I can remember — two evenly matched fights at the top of the card and really a great night from top to bottom.
“When you look at these two fights, you really have two events that could be main events anywhere. These four guys are really made for each other. It’s going to be a very entertaining night.
“Galen Center is a beautiful facility. It’s the newest indoor venue in Los Angeles and it’s perfect for boxing. It’s great to be here on the campus of USC.
“When you think about punchers, you think about Argentina. Jesus Cuellar is a guy who more often than not ends a fight with a knockout. He’s always ready to take on any challenge and ready to make a name for himself. He’s a force to be reckoned with in the featherweight division.
“A few times a year you just know that a fight is going to be a ‘Fight of the Year.’ This main event is one of those fights. You can bet the house that Cuellar vs. Mares is going to be a good fight. You want to be there to see what happens.
“Abner Mares is easily one of the most accomplished and exciting fighters to come out of Mexico in recent history. Here he is trying to reach for the stars again. You’ve seen how exciting he is. You also know that he is a great young man outside of the ring. It’s always very special for me to introduce Abner in particular.
“I was fortunate enough to know Jermall and Julian since early in their career. They are extremely talented fighters and their records prove that.
“Jermall Charlo is the kind of champion who doesn’t shy away from fighting anyone. He’s always ready and prepared and looking for the best challenges. These are the fights that turn champions into legends.
“Jermall and his brother are truly two great young men. They always carried themselves very well and you could always feel their hunger to be world champions. It’s really just the first step. The question is then where you take it. Can you become a superstar? That is what both brothers have in them.
“Jermall already has two title defenses and has come out successful. He continues to take on anyone and that’s just the kind of warrior he is.
“Julian is another truly exciting and gifted fighter who has been waiting for his opportunity for the world title. We often hear fighters say they’re hungry, but Julian defines that. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who was so ready for this. This is really an amazing matchup.
“Julian Williams hasn’t lost a round in his last 10 fights. I challenge you to find another guy in the sport who has performed like that. He’s been waiting for his opportunity and now it is here.
“This is the first time that I’m introducing Erickson Lubin and I hope it’s the first time of many. He has the flash and power in both hands, combined with the charisma to be a big star. Don’t miss his fight.”
STEPHEN ESPINOZA, Executive VP & General Manager, SHOWTIME Sports
“In 2016 no other network has made a more significant contribution to the sport of boxing than SHOWTIME. Through Saturday we will have televised more than 22 world title fights. Overall, across our platforms we will have televised 68 total fights and we’re thrilled to be this committed to the sport.
“It’s not just quantity we’re delivering; we’re bringing the most significant matchups in the sport. This card is another example of it.
“This card starts an incredible run over the next five months. All of the fights we have coming up are top 10 versus top 10. These four guys here are top six in their division if you ask anybody. Some have them even higher. The fact that they’re willing to fight each other is great for this sport. This is a card we’re very proud of.
“The main event fighters have fought a combined 24 times on the SHOWTIME platforms. Jesus and Abner will be the fifth featherweight world title we’ve televised this year. This is an exciting time in the history of the featherweight division and we’re excited to bring it to you.”