Boxing Insider Notebook: Cuellar, Mares, Lopez, Webster, Crawford, Beltran, and more…
By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of November 29th to December 6th, covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Cuellar, Mares, and Lopez Media Workout Quotes
Featherweight world champion Jesus Cuellar and former three-division world champion Abner Mares participated in a media workout in Los Angeles Tuesday in advance of their long awaited showdown taking place Saturday, December 10 from Galen Center in USC in Los Angeles and live on SHOWTIME.
Also in attendance Tuesday at City of Angels Boxing was former title challenger and local fan favorite Josesito Lopez, who competes in a welterweight bout on the undercard. The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast begins at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT and features junior middleweight world champion Jermall Charlo taking on top-rated challenger Julian Williams in a battle of undefeated rising stars in their prime.
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by Ringstar Sports and TGB Promotions, are on sale now and are priced at $35, $50, $75, $150 and $200. To purchase tickets go to www.galentix.com.
Here is what the participants had to say Tuesday:
“The fight is here and I’m ready to step in the ring. I have defended my title six times already and I want to be the best in the division. He’s one of the best and I’m willing to challenge him.
“This is an important fight that I’ve wanted for a long time. It’s an important fight for my career and to prove to everyone how good I am.
“Abner Mares is a high level fighter. I have to beat him to reach the next level of this sport. That’s what I’m preparing to do.
“You’re going to see everything I’ve learned on December 10. I love to train hard and I’ve improved greatly as a fighter. I’m going to put it all together in the ring.
“There’s no pressure for me coming into this fight. I know that I’m in his backyard but I have the people of Argentina behind me. This is going to be a really good fight.
“I’m ready to go to war. I know Abner is ready and he has a goal in his mind. I’m ready to do what I have to do in the ring.
“It’s been almost a year. We came here in January to fight Mares and now the time is almost here to accomplish our goal.
“I have to go out there and do my job. I’m going to show Abner a lot of different things. I have a lot more skills than people give me credit for. It will all be on display in the ring.
“I know that I’m going to be at 100 percent. I’m more confident now than I’ve ever been that I’m prepared for this fight and I’m going to win.
“Freddie Roach is getting the best out of me. He knows what I like to do and he knows how to correct my mistakes. He’s doing a really good job in training camp.
“I’m working to go 12 rounds and end the night with a victory for Argentina. I came here to achieve a great victory for my country.”
“I’m so happy and excited to be fighting in Los Angeles and in my backyard again. SHOWTIME is the reason I’m famous.
“On paper I thought that Cuellar is probably going to be toughest, strongest fighter I’ve been in with. I can’t say for sure because we haven’t fought yet. But I know that he is a strong, powerful champion who is coming in to keep his title.
“There’s always a reason behind something bad that happens. In this case, me not being able to fight twice (due to postponements), it just gave me the opportunity to get to know Robert even better. I’ve had a whole year leading up to this fight. You will see a difference in me. I’m very eager and excited to fight.
“It’s going to be a tremendous fight. I think Cuellar only has one style, and that’s to rely on his power punches. He’s a come forward type of fighter that seems to always be looking for the knockout. But I’ve been known to give a fight too and make for great fights.
“My plan is to make the fight as easy for myself as possible. I feel I have the tools to give him different looks that maybe he hasn’t seen before against a fighter of my talents. For me to win another world title would mean the world to me. It would be an early Christmas present for me, my family and my friends.
“Coach Robert Garcia brings the discipline and the demanding voice of a trainer. We have to do things his way and I like that. It’s bringing the best out of me. I’m really excited for this fight.
“Fighting in my hometown of LA, I feel like I have the home field advantage. I don’t feel any pressure at all. I feel like I’m in as good of shape as I can be and there will be no ring rust. I’ve actually had three training camps for this fight, after postponements in March and June.
“If you look at Cuellar he looks much naturally bigger. But we’re both going to weigh just about the same at the weigh-in. He has to make the same weight as I do. I felt a little bit of pressure before the Leo Santa Cruz fight, but none this time.
“Bringing in Robert Garcia has been a great thing for me. He’s brought a lot of experience and he’s one of the best coaches out there. I can’t wait to show the fans what I’ve learned from Robert.”
“I’ve been anxious to get in there but I’m ready now and excited to get back to doing what I love. I healed up from some injuries that I suffered. Now that I’m fully healed I have felt the power returning and it’s time to go.
“The most important thing is that I’m 100 percent ready mentally and physically. I’ll be right there in the ring on December 10.
“This is my first quiz in going back to school and working my way toward a world title. I’m back in the gym and putting everything together so that I can use it in the ring.
“I am going to be smart and work hard in the ring. I know I have to make the key adjustments during a fight that will make the difference when I meet the elite fighters.
“Just a few months ago when I sparred for the first time in a while, I realized I missed getting hit. Why? Because I love the chance to hit back. Even just having the Vaseline back on my face was something I missed. I’ve probably watched more boxing than I had in my entire life since I’ve been gone.”
“This absence has brought back the fire in me. There are several titles that are accessible to many guys in my division. I know I’m right there and I just need to take the right steps to get to that point.
“I have undivided attention in training camp with Robert Garcia and I’ve worked very hard to get myself ready. I feel like I’m still improving and getting better.
“I’m really excited to get back in the ring. I can hardly wait. There’s nothing I love more than performing for my fans. I’m going to do what I always do, which is make sure the fans see a great fight when I’m in the ring.”
Split-T Management Signs Antonio Vargas
Split-T Management is pleased to announce the signing of another member of the 2016 United States Olympic Team, Antonio Vargas to a managerial contract..
Vargas of Kissimmee, Florida was the Flyweight representative for the 2016 U.S. Team.
“I have known Split-T Management’s David McWater for several years. The people I know told me a lot of positive things about him. He showed me he was a good person and the man who can manage my career the way it should be,” said Vargas.
Said Split-T Management’s David McWater, “Antonio is just a special kid. Of course he has all the talent and physical tools, but he is so much more than that. He’s got incredible focus and determination. Not to mention, he is always very classy. I wanted to represent him since the first time that I saw him at the National Golden Gloves, and I know he will be a world champion.”
He was considered one of the best pound for pound fighters on the squad, and the most successful amateur of the team heading into the games. He was a U.S. Youth Open champion, U.S. National Elite champion, two-time National Golden Gloves champion and won the Gold Medal at the Pan American Games at the age of 18. Those accomplishments led him to be named the 2015 USA Boxing Male Athlete of the Year.
In the 2016 Olympics, Vargas lost to eventual Gold medal winner Shakhobibdin Zoirov of Uzbekistan.
Vargas will turn professional at either 115 or 118 pounds and his handlers believe that he will fight up to junior lightweight before his career is complete.
Vargas has a very exciting style, and he has taken traits from some of the best fighters in the world that he feels makes him a complete fighter.
“I would compare my style to Manny Pacquiao, Vasyl Lomachenko, and going back a bit, Orlando Canizales because all three had fast hands and feet with the ability to stop on a dime and unleash powerful shots to the head and body that can get you out of there.”
Vargas began boxing at age nine.
“I had ADHD, and was a very hyper kid that was always fighting and getting into trouble,” said Vargas. “One of my teachers actually told my parents to put me on medication. My father instead brought me to the boxing in gym in hopes it would help me burn a lot of energy and tire me out.”
“I told my teacher that I was on medication but it was actually boxing that helped calm me down so I could focus on my studies and stay out of trouble.”
As Vargas grew older, boxing became more of a future then just an activity.
“I won a lot of state tournaments, but when I won the US Youth Open Tournament at age 16, I realized I could make boxing my career. I was undefeated for 4 years, which I won several gold medals at the National Golden Gloves, U.S National Championships and Pan American Games.”
Vargas believes that all of his international experience will help him in the pros because he was exposed to the many different styles of boxing, and now he is extremely motivated due to his Olympic experience.
“The Olympics did not go as I wanted. I lost to the eventual gold medal winner. The loss made me real hungry and now I train harder than I ever did before because I want to be the best.”
“I plan on turning professional as either a junior bantamweight or bantamweight and win world championships in four different weight divisions. I am going to achieve greatness while glorifying Jesus Christ and to spread his word.
Derrick Webster to Return on Zab Judah Card
Fresh off a dominant TKO victory of Zoltan Sera last month in Philadelphia, Derrick “Take it to the Bank” Webster (21-1, 11 KOs) will make a return to the ring on Jan. 21st at the Sun National Bank Center in Trenton, N.J. Standing opposite him that night will be Thomas Awimbono (25-5-1, 21 KOs), with the IBO Super Middleweight Championship on the line.
“I am extremely excited because it has been a few years since the last time I fought in New Jersey,” the Glassboro native stated. “Just being able to fight back in New Jersey feels good. I really have to take my hat off to the amount of supporters who have already committed to coming out to this fight.”
With the IBO Super Middleweight Championship on the line, Webster says that the intensity surrounding this camp is already at an extreme level.
“My trainers and I have really kicked it into high gear,” he remarked. “(Head trainer) Denny Brown and (assistant) Robert Rossi are already pushing me to my limits. In order to be a champion, you have to train like a champion. I am so hungry for this right now, and all I can think about is the amount of sacrifices that I have made to get to this point. This shot here, I am taking it by the horns, and we are going to ride it all night long. This boy is going to have hell to pay. It might be a 10-round fight, but I really don’t know if it is going to make it the distance.”
A newly married man, Webster quickly put to rest any concerns regarding his mental focus in his last fight, where he knocked down Sera three times before a referee stoppage in the 5th round.
“With me getting married in September, so many people questioned whether or not I would be the same guy,” he said. “I found out about my last fight at the wedding. We were supposed to go on a month-long honeymoon, and I shut my honeymoon down to start preparing for the fight. If that’s not sacrifice and determination, I don’t know what is. I wanted to make a statement that in 2017 I am going to be a problem, period. I don’t want any .500 fighters or guys with bad records. I never wanted any fighters like that, but I just fought who they put in front of me. With this last guy, it had to start with him in terms of what I am trying to accomplish in 2017.”
The card on Jan. 21st is being promoted by Renee Aiken, someone who has been a consistent ally of Webster throughout his career.
“Going into the last fight, I had every intention of staying busy afterwards,” Webster confirmed. “Right after we took care of business with our last opponent, I immediately started looking for another card. I reached out to Renee Aiken about a spot on one of her future cards, and she helped us get this fight locked up. I just really wanted to stay busy after the last fight to keep the momentum going.”
Webster vs. Awimbono will be the co-feature bout on the Jan. 21st card, with former four-time world champion Zab Judah making his return to boxing in the main event.
“I met Zab Judah when I was in camp with Jean Pascal a few years ago,” Webster recollected. “Above all things, he is a great person. He is a four-time world champion, and that is such a huge accomplishment. I always said I was the main event, even when I have not been fighting in the main event. I always wanted to be the most exciting fighter on the card. But for me to get to share the stage with a guy of his stature, that means a whole lot to me. I’m a southpaw, he’s a southpaw. In my book, I’m calling this night the southpaw showdown. I am excited to see Zab once again, and I am going to bring him to the ring in unbelievable fashion. I am going to handle my business, and then I am going to sit back and watch Zab do his thing.”
Menard Ready for Beltran on Crawford vs. Molina Card
Rayne, Louisiana’s “Rock Hard Mighty” Mason Menard (32-1, 24 KOs) knows he’s in for a tough challenge when he makes the first defense of his WBO NABO Lightweight Championship against fellow top-10 contender Ray Beltran (31-7-1, 19 KOs) of Phoenix, Arizona, on Saturday, December 10, at CenturyLink Center Omaha in Omaha, Neb.
The 10-round Menard vs. Beltran lightweight showdown will serve as the middle bout of an HBO World Championship Boxing tripleheader (9:35 p.m. ET/PT) that will open with the same-day delay telecast of the Joseph Parker vs. Andy Ruiz, Jr. WBO heavyweight championship in New Zealand.
Promoted by Top Rank®, in association with TGB Promotions, the exciting event will be headlined by undefeated World Junior Welterweight Champion and top-rated pound-for-pound fighter TERENCE “Bud” CRAWFORD (29-0, 20 KOs), of Omaha, Neb., making the first defense of his unified World Boxing Organization (WBO) / World Boxing Council (WBC) /Ring magazine 140-pound world titles against one-time world title challenger and current No. 1 contender JOHN MOLINA JR. (29-6, 23 KOs), from Covina, Calif.
Remaining reserved seat tickets to the Crawford – Molina world championship event, priced at $27, $52, $77 and $127, can be purchased at the CenturyLink Center Omaha box office and all Ticketmaster outlets.
To charge-by-phone call (800) 745-3000. To order online, visit ticketmaster.com.
“I know Beltran has been around a long time and he’s fought at the top level many times. He is very tough and I know he will bring it,” said Menard.
The 28-year-old Menard punched his way into world contention this year with a pair of high-profile knockouts. In April of this year, he scored one for the highlight reels by starching formerly undefeated Eudy Bernardo with one punch in round three.
Then in August, he returned with another KO, this time against well-regarded Uzbekistani Bahodir Mamadjonov in the ninth round.
“2016 has been a great year for me,” he continued. “I’ve had two consecutive KO’s on national television and one is a candidate for ‘Knockout of the Year.’ I also won an award from the WBO in Puerto Rico. Now this fight has fallen into my lap and I will make the best of this opportunity.”
Another impressive victory for Menard would land him in world title contention… a fact not lost on the excited slugger. “Landing this fight is big for me and my career. A win here should put me in position to fight for a world title next. It should open doors me and make me a serious contender in the lightweight division.”
Menard is taking this tough challenge on relatively short notice, but says he’s in great shape and will be fully prepared for battle on December 10. “Yes, I am ready. I was already training to fight December 15. It’s now or never. I believe God has blessed me with this fight because I’ve been praying for a big one to get me to the next level.”