Abner Mares took a nip-and-tuck affair Saturday night on Showtime against Jesus Cuellar, an outcome made more obvious with a clutch 11th round knockdown. It was a terrific comeback victory for a man who not that long ago was one of the 10 best fighters in the world, against an opponent who came to battle.
Mares was far from perfect, and the featherweight contender Cuellar did plenty to exploit Mares’ weaknesses. But Mares did appear a great deal more, under trainer Robert Garcia, like the boxer-puncher he was to ascend to the elite.
You can’t pick any one round, other that the 11th, that made a difference. Through 10, this scribe had it virtually even. In rounds where Mares moved and countered, he won. In rounds where Cuellar ignored everything and swamped Mares with volume, he won. And yet, there were so many rounds where choosing between what was better among those two options made it was very difficult to score.
Then came the 11th. Cuellar, ironically, was having one of his best rounds, and best moments, until Mares landed a flush counter right hand that dropped Cuellar. It was a legitimate knockdown, although Cuellar might not have been badly hurt. When he got up, Cuellar found himself with his back to the ropes, but pivoted off of them well enough to keep fighting intelligently for the rest of the round.
Mares won the decision, 117-110, 116-111 and 112-115. These scores were fine. Mares beat a game opponent, but not by much. He now says he wants the winner of Carl Frampton-Leo Santa Cruz II, a totally valid desire and a good fight.
On the undercard, your TQBR host sadly must admit that his DVR let him down. Word is that junior middleweight Julian Williams was beating Jermall Charlo for the most part, that is, until (and your TQBR host saw this) Charlo landed a ruthless uppercut in the 5th that decked Williams. Williams got up, somehow, but couldn’t stay up for much longer. Whatever incivility Charlo showed after that, however classless it was, so be it. Charlo just got the win of his life and might have turned himself into a first class boxing heel, given his style in the ring and his mean-ery outside it. Charlo says he needs to move up to 160, and called out Canelo Alvarez. It’d be a really tough fight for either man, and the next best thing Canelo could do after facing Gennady Golovkin.