Abner Mares believes champion Jesus Cuellar is ‘strong competition’

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Abner Mares/Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions

Abner Mares on Tuesday talked a lot about having trainer Robert Garcia on his team for the first time. The two will combine talents Dec. 10 when Mares challenges Jesus Cuellar of Argentina for his featherweight world title at USC’s Galen Center (on Showtime).

But when we asked Mares to size up Cuellar, the hard-hitting champion with a record of 28-1 and 21 knockouts, Mares said very little.

“I think he’s strong competition,” Mares, of Hawaiian Gardens, said at the City of Angels Boxing Club in Los Angeles. “That’s it.”

Cuellar is going to be the hardest puncher Mares has faced since he was knocked out in the first round by Jhonny Gonzalez in August 2013 at StubHub Center.

Mares, who turned 31 on Monday, is 29-2-1 with 15 knockouts. He has won world titles in three weight classes.

Cuellar, 29, will be looking to make his second successful defense.

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Abner Mares believes nearly a year with Robert Garcia will benefit him Dec. 10

Abner Mares/Associated Press photo by Isaac Brekken


Abner Mares wants to again be a world champion in the worst way. Mares, who has won titles in three weight classes, parted ways with longtime trainer Clemente Medina and hired the more famous Robert Garcia to help fuel that endeavor.

That was 10 months ago. In the opinion of Mares (29-2-1, 15 KOs), that makes this trainer change different than most. That was evident when he was asked Monday during a conference call to explain how he might have changed under Garcia.

“I know once you get a new coach they tend to get a fight right away, and they tend to fight the next six to eight weeks, and you don’t see much of a difference,” said Mares, who Dec. 10 will challenge Jesus Cuellar (28-1, 21 KOs) of Argentina for his featherweight title at Galen Center (on Showtime). “Why? Because you only have that small period of time to train and get to know each other. And I just mentioned a whole year with Robert and not only a whole year with Robert, a whole year of getting ready for this fight against a southpaw.
“And you guys know what type of coach Robert is. Not only does he bring  education to your boxing skills, but also that motivation. It’s always good to have that motivation, knowing that you have one of the best in your corner. So, you will see a different Abner and I think the best way to answer your question is you will just see a more mature fighter in me.”
 Mares has not fought since losing a majority decision to Leo Santa Cruz in a fight for a vacant featherweight title on Aug. 29, 2015.
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Abner Mares would love to fight winner of the Santa Cruz-Frampton rematch

Abner Mares/Photo courtesy of Dave Mandel, Showtime


Abner Mares has always said he likes taking on the best fighters. Even after he lost his featherweight world title when he was knocked out in the first round by Jhonny Gonzalez in August 2013, that credo did not change as in his most recent fight – August 2015 – Mares tangled with featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz won a decision, but Mares distinguished himself well enough.

Mares will be back Dec. 10 when he challenges another featherweight champion – Jesus Cuellar – for his belt at USC’s Galen Center (on Showtime). If Mares manages to emerge victorious, he knows what he’ll then want.

“I want the winner of the (Carl) Frampton vs. Santa Cruz rematch,” Mares said Thursday at a Los Angeles news conference. “I want to continue to fight the best.”

Santa Cruz lost his featherweight championship to Frampton via decision July 30 in Brooklyn. They will fight a rematch Jan. 28 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas (on Showtime).

Mares parted ways with his trainer – Clemente Medina – this past January and hired well-known Robert Garcia, who trains boxers out of his gym in Oxnard.

“I’ve been working with Abner almost this whole year,” Garcia said. “… We’ve been working side-by-side and we’ve had a lot of time to learn about each other.”

Mares has won world titles in three weight classes. But he hasn’t held a title in over three years. Garcia is just the trainer to help Mares get back in the championship saddle.

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Mikey Garcia missed competition against elite fighters during down time

Mikey Garcia is seen here with his brother/trainer Robert Garcia after defeating Juan Carlos Burgos in January 2014, the last time Mikey Garcia fought before a contract dispute with his promoter kept him out 2 1/2 years/Photo courtesy of HBO


Mikey Garcia of Oxnard has sat out the past 2 1/2 years because of a contract dispute with his now-former promoter Bob Arum. Garcia, now a free agent, will make his return July 30 when he takes on Elio Rojas underneath the featherweight title fight between champion Leo Santa Cruz and Carl Frampton at Barclays Center in Brooklyn (on Showtime).

Garcia, 28, went 34-0 with 28 knockouts and won world titles in the featherweight and super featherweight divisions before his hiatus. He was asked Tuesday what he missed most.

“The actual fight itself,” said Garcia, who, along with Santa Cruz hosted a media workout at City of Angels Boxing Club in Los Angeles. “Just being able to show my skills, what I can do in the ring and just the competition versus other elite fighters. That’s the No. 1 thing. You always want to prove yourself and prove to everybody, you know, match yourself against the top champions, and I was unable to do that.”



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Robert Garcia makes bold statement about Manny Pacquiao’s future

Everyone is well aware by now of the brief brawl between the Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios camps Wednesday morning in Macau, China, where the two fighters will meet Saturday in the welterweight main event (on HBO pay-per-view).

But even a day earlier, Robert Garcia was making a bold statement regarding Pacquiao’s apparent bleak future as a fighter. Garcia trains Rios.

“Twice during the two episodes of ’24/7′ I’ve heard Freddie Roach say he will ask Manny Pacquiao to retire if he loses to Brandon Rios,” Garcia said. “Well, Freddie had better buy that gold watch for Manny, because the retirement party begins on Saturday night.  I guarantee you this will be the last time you ever see Manny Pacquiao on an HBO Pay-Per-View.”

Roach, of course, trains Pacquiao, His beef with the Garcia camp Wednesday that resulted in Roach being kicked in the chest by Rios’ strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza, is bound to make Thursday’s third and final episode of “24/7: Pacquiao/Rios.”

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Beef over gym time escalates into physical row with Pacquiao, Rios camps

An argument over gym time turned physical when Alex Ariza kicked Freddie Roach in the chest on Wednesday morning at a gym in Macau, China.

That’s where Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios will square off Saturday in the welterweight main event at the Venetian Resort (on HBO pay-per-view).

Roach trains Pacquiao, Robert Garcia trains Rios. As for Ariza, he used to be the strength and conditioning coach for Pacquiao, but now has that role in the Rios camp.

A video shows Roach and Garcia arguing over Team Rios still being in the gym at 11 a.m. (Macau time) even though Pacquiao’s time starts at 11. As the two exchange barbs, a member of Rios’ camp is beside himself and has to be restrained and Ariza and Roach begin to jaw at each other.

Roach took a step toward Ariza, who then kicked Roach in the chest. Roach told security he wanted Ariza arrested.

There is a video out there that can be found on YouTube. We can’t post it here because it contains quite a bit of foul language.

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John Molina of Covina needs a victory over Mickey Bey in Las Vegas

John Molina of Covina began his career 25-1. But he’s lost two of his past three fights, meaning he really needs a victory Friday night against Mickey Bey if he is to remain a contender for a lightweight world title. Molina and Bey, of Cleveland, will square off in the main event at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas (on Showtime). Their fight figures to start around 9 p.m.

Molina (25-3, 20 KOs), a Charter Oak High graduate, challenged Antonio DeMarco for his lightweight title this past September in Oakland. Molina was stopped in the first round. Molina rebounded with a fourth-round knockout of Dannie Williams, but on June 7 he was out-boxed by Andrey Klimov of Russia, Klimov winning a majority decision.

Molina is still just 30, but another loss could make it difficult for him to get another title shot. He seems to know he needs a victory over Bey (18-0-1, 9 KOs).

“Perception-wise, this is a very important fight for me and it’s certainly in my best interests to get a victory,” Molina said. “I know what’s ahead of me with a win. A win puts me right back in the thick of things. Mickey Bey is a hell of a fighter and a hell of a boxer. Our styles will make for an explosive fight.”

Molina has changed trainers many times during his career. Recently, he went back to Joe Goossen after having been with Robert Garcia.





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Featherweight champ Mikey Garcia to hold public workout Saturday in Yorba Linda

Featherweight world champion Mikey Garcia of Oxnard will play host to a sparring session today at 11 a.m. at the UFC Gym in Yorba Linda. It will be open to the public.

Garcia (31-0, 26 KOs) is preparing to defend his title against former champion Juan Manuel Lopez (33-2, 30 KOs) of Puerto Rico on June 15 at American Airlines Center in Dallas (on HBO).

Joining Garcia at the workout will be his older brother and trainer, former super featherweight champion Robert Garcia. Also on hand will be their father, Eduardo Garcia, who helps Robert train Mikey.

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Robert Garcia and Henry Ramirez may be friends, but that won’t matter June 8

When Josesito Lopez of Riverside and Marcos Maidana of Argentina square off in the welterweight main event June 8 at Home Depot Center (on Showtime), it will also be a clash between their respective trainers – Henry Ramirez and Robert Garcia.

The two are friends, but these guys are pros and they’d never let that stand in the way of a fight that has the potential to be terrific.

“This fight, Josesito and Maidana, is a Fight of the Year candidate,” said Ramirez, who trains Lopez, and also is the trainer for heavyweight Chris Arreola. “Robert Garcia and I are good friends. But this is a sport and I know he has been preparing Maidana like I’ve been preparing Josesito.”

Of, Garcia has been.

We’re training hard for this fight and we know what type of fight we have in front of us,” Garcia said. We cannot take this fight lightly. We’ve gotten some great sparring in for this fight and I know Josesito and his coach have done the same. We’re actually pretty good friends with Henry (Ramirez).”

Lopez is 30-5 with 18 knockouts. Maidana is 33-3 with 30 knockouts.






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