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Abner Mares defeats Cuellar – now in line to face Frampton v Santa Cruz winner

Former three-weight champion Abner Mares last night moved into contention as a possible Summer opponent for Belfast’s WBA featherweight titlist Carl Frampton.

The Mexican-American defeated Jesus Cuellar at the USC Galen Center in LA to put himself first in line to face the winner of the WBA world title rematch between Carl Frampton and Leo Santa Cruz next month by virtue of picking up the WBA ‘regular’ bauble.

The busier and quicker Mares [30(15)-2(1)-1] had the upper hand against the Freddie Roach-trained Argentinian for much of the bout, scoring a knockdown on Cuellar in the eleventh en-route to a split decision win (117:110, 116:111, 112:115). While eyebrows were raised regarding the final scorecards, it is undeniable that Mares looked some way back to his best following a shock first round stoppage to Jhonny Gonzalez and a points loss to Leo Santa Cruz.

Afterwards Mares expressed his willingness to fight the winner of the upcoming title bout, and said “definitely, I want the Leo [Santa Cruz], I want the [Carl] Frampton fight, I want any one. Anyone, I’m ready. I’ve always proven myself, I’m not afraid of anyone, I’ll fight anyone.”

‘The Jackal’ and Santa Cruz fight at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas on January 28th and, should he win again, Frampton has spoke at length about his desire for a Belfast homecoming at Windsor Park. While a unification with IBF champion Lee Selby seems to be the preferred option, a defence against the fan-friendly Mares would also tick a lot of boxes.

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie