Abner Mares (30-2-1, 15 KOs) is targeting the winner of the January 28 fight between WBA ‘Super’ World featherweight champion Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz for his next fight. Mares beat WBA World featherweight champion Jesus Cuellar (28-2, 21 KOs) by a 12 round split decision last Saturday night at the USC Galen Center in Los Angeles. California.
The scores were 116-111, 117-110 for the 31-year-old Mares, and 115-112 for Cuellar. It was a close fight with a lot of the rounds being difficult to score. Mares landing the faster combinations, but Cuellar was constantly applying pressure and hitting Mares with the harder punches. A draw would have been fair.
Mares said this to Fight News about wanting to fight the winner of the Santa Cruz vs. Frampton fight:
“The plan was to box him and don’t make it to a brawl,” said Mares. “That was the plan. It was a big surprise when they announced a split decision. I don’t know what the judge was watching that had it for Cuellar. With Robert (trainer Robert Garcia), I think I can beat Leo. I want the winner of Frampton and Leo!”
If Mares has the right game plan, he could beat Frampton potentially, but I don’t think he can beat Santa Cruz. Mares already lost to Santa Cruz by a 12 round majority decision in 2015. Santa Cruz used his height and reach to control the fight against Mares from the outside. Even when the two fighters were at close range, Santa Cruz was the better fighter of the two.
He’s a quality guy. Mares needs to hope that Frampton wins, because that’s a fighter that he might be able to beat with the right game plan. Frampton’s weakness is being pressured. He doesn’t reach well when he’s forced to fight in close for a long duration.
“This is boxing. You win and lose,” said Cuellar. “I gave it my best. I congratulate Mares and his team. We fought a great fight. I deserve a rematch. We will keep going forward from here I will be back and become world champion once again.”
Mares might be better off giving Cuellar a rematch if only just to stay busy. He’s going to be waiting around anyway for the fight against the winner of the Frampton vs. Santa Cruz. As close as the Cuellar-Mares fight was, maybe it wouldn’t be a great idea for Mares to fight Cuellar a second time. If he’s not forced to fight him in a rematch immediately, then Mares should look to get the fight against the winner of the Frampton vs. Santa Cruz fight, because it’s potentially a bigger money fight if Frampton beats Santa Cruz.