New WBA Featherweight Champion
By Barbara Pinnella
Photos: German Villasenor
The Galen Center on the USC campus in Los Angeles,
California was the site for the main event between Jesus
Cuellar (28-2 21 KOs) and Abner Mares (30-1, 15 KOs). This
was a title fight for the WBA featherweight title, which was
held by Cuellar, and was scheduled to go 12 rounds. Both
fighters came out swinging and connecting. Cuellar seemed to
get a slight edge in the connection department in this early
We were already seeing a slugfest and it was only round two.
They did not let up for any of the three minutes, but it
certainly seemed as if Jesus was on the winning end so far.
His punches were crisp and strong, and landing where he
wanted them to. Cuellar was throwing a lot of punches in the
third, causing Abner to grab and hold.
Mares landed some punches in the fourth, a couple of them
good ones, much to the delight of the crowd. But Jesus was
still throwing a lot as well, as is his style. The fifth was
a huge round for Mares. He was much sharper and quicker than
he had been, and controlled the fight for the first time. He
did not let Cuellar get the jump on him.
Cuellar went back on the offensive in the sixth. He took
back control and landed some really good shots on Abner. The
seventh also went Jesusí way. He was getting his right/left
combinations home and still looking strong as we went to the
halfway point of the fight.
The back and forth dance continued in the eighth. Cuellar
was able to land some heavy left hands while Mares connected
with his jab a lot. It was the same in the ninth.
Cuellar was able to push Abner to the ropes in the tenth, as
he had done in previous rounds. Sometimes Mares could fight
well off of them, but more often Jesus got the best of him.
Moving into the championship rounds, and how quickly things
change. Abner landed a crisp little shot with his right hand
that put Cuellar on the canvas.
In the twelfth and final Jesus tried his best to overtake
Mares, but it didnít seem as if that would happen. We went
to the scorecards to find out and the scores showed a split
decision. One judge saw it 115-112 for Cuellar, while the
other two saw it 117-110 and 116-111 for Mares. Abner became
the new featherweight champion.
The co-main event saw the IBF junior middleweight title on
the line when Jermall Charlo (25-0, 19 K0s) faced off
against Julian Williams (22-1-1, 14 KOs), who was making his
first title defense. This fight was to go a scheduled 12
rounds. There was not a lot of action in the first round as
the fighters felt each other out a bit.
A quick, short little left by Charlo put Williams down in
the first minute of the second round. Julian got up mad and
was able to land a really hard shot on Jermall a bit later
in the round, but Charlo stayed on his feet. The third was a
more even exchange between the two that saw each landing but
no real damage.
The fourth was the best round for Williams. His timing was
great and he landed some good punches. He also made Charlo
miss a lot, even though the crowd cheered whenever Jermall
threw one that was even close.
In the fifth a hard and very accurate uppercut put Williams
down. He got up a bit wobbly, but the fight continued.
Smelling blood, Jermall went in for the kill, and just
nailed Julian, landing another uppercut and dropping him
like a stone and putting him down and out. The fight was
stopped at 2:08 of that fifth round.
Charlo kept his title, but lost the respect and any
adoration that he might have had from the fans. He behaved
like a jerk after his win, not accepting congratulations
from Williams when he went over to Jermallís corner. During
the in-ring interview the boos were so loud you could not
hear most of what he was trying to say.
Sergey Lipinets (11-0, 9 KOs) went up against Leonardo
Zappavigna (35-3, 25 KOs) in a 12 round fight in the junior
welterweight division. It was obvious by their knockout
ratio that both men have power and they were each trying to
show it off early. No harm, no foul, but both wanted to
prove to their respective opponents that they were strong.
Heavy leather landed for each fighter in the second. It
appears as if both are going for that knockout. It remained
to be seen if that would happen. But the action did not slow
down in the third, as they seemed to be getting stronger
with each passing round. That did not change in the fourth,
and blood flowed from both fighters as the bout became even
Just when it looked as if Lipinets might be out of the
fight, a right/left combination put Zappavigna on the
canvas. He almost went down again but managed to stay on his
feet and fight back throughout the rest of the round.
Lipinets was really sharp with his combinations and had been
able to pin Leonardo against the ropes and just pound him.
Still, we moved into the seventh round. The back and forth
battle between the two fighters raged on.
Those combinations continued to work for Sergey, and early
into the eighth round he was able to put Leonardo on the
canvas for the second time in the fight. This time though,
Zappavigna was unable to get up and continue. The fight was
stopped at 1:23 of that eighth round.
Win this victory, Lipinets became the mandatory challenger
for the IBF junior welterweight world title.
In a lightweight fight that was scheduled to go four rounds,
Adan Mares (14-1-4, 3 KOs) faced off against Evincii Dixon
(7-15-1, 2 KOs). Mares showed some very good combination
punches in the opening round, and did sharp body work as
well. Dixon landed some, but was not nearly as effective as
Dixon was finding his range better in the second round, but
Mares was still the faster and more accurate fighter. The
third was the best round by far for Evincii. He landed
strong power punches the whole time and didnít let Adan come
in on him like he had in the previous rounds.
We saw a super final round by both fighters, as Mares got
back to his successful combinations and body punches, while
Dixon landed a huge overhand right as well as other power
punches. We went to the scorecards. All three judges saw the
fight the same, 38-38, a draw. Boos went up, but it was not
really hard to see how it was scored that way.
Undefeated Erickson Lubin (17-0, 12 KOs) extended his win
streak when he fought Juan Cabrera (23-2, 16 KOs) in a
middleweight bout that was scheduled to go 10 rounds. Lubin
was in complete control, and he dispatched Cabrera by
knocking him down twice in the second round. Juan failed to
make it up after that second knockdown. The time of the
stoppage was 2:09.
Huge Centeno Jr. (25-1, 13 KOs) took on Ronald Montes (17-5,
15 KOs) in a middleweight bout that was scheduled to go 10
rounds. Centeno was utilizing his jab effectively in the
first few rounds, as well as his combinations. But we did
not see much of this fight, as it was called to a halt early
by the corner of Montes after the third round.
Junior lightweights took to the ring when Marlo Barrios
17-0, 9 KOs) faced off against Claudio Tapia (24-19-4, 9
KOs). This fight was a short one. Tapia was knocked to the
canvas twice in round two, and when he went down again for a
third time the referee stopped the fight. Time of the
stoppage was 2:36 of that second round.
To start off the afternoon, Josesito Lopez (34-7, 19 KOs)
came back off a long layoff to face Todd Manuel (12-12-1, 1
KO) in a welterweight bout that was scheduled to go six
rounds. The fight did go the distance, but it was all Lopez
here. He dominated, and when the scorecards were read they
were 60-54 twice and 59-55. This was a good way for Josesito
to make his return.
This was a good fight card at a very nice venue. We saw a
change of a title belt going to Mares, while Charlo was able
to keep his belt. Kudos to both Sergey Lipinets and Leonardo
Zappavigna for their super performances, and jeers have to
go to Jermall for his conduct in the ring after the fight.