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Updated: October 31, 2016

It was recently announced that SHOWTIME Sports will televise a series of intriguing fights in the next few months that will lead toward the highly-anticipated unified world welterweight championship unification bout between Danny ‘Swift’ Garcia, the WBC champion, and Keith ‘One-Time’ Thurman, the WBA kingpin on March 4, 2017.

“SHOWTIME continues to deliver the strongest lineup of any network in boxing, bar none,” said Showtime Sports Senior Vice-President of Communications, Chris DeBlasio. “We recently announced a slate of upcoming events that is further proof that no one is committing more resources to move the sport forward than Showtime.   And the next great run of evenly matched, world class fights begins on Saturday, December 10 in Los Angeles.  This card features four fighters ranked in the top-10 of their division taking the right fight at the right time.  These men are as respectable and dependable outside of the ring as they are ferocious and talented inside the ring.”

On December 10, from the UBC’s Galen Center in Los Angeles, CA, long-time WBA featherweight champion Jesus Cuellar (28-1, 21 KOs) is scheduled to make the sixth defense of his title against former three-division titlist Abner Mares (29-2-1, 15 KOs). In the co-feature: Jermall Charlo (24-0, 18 KOs) makes the third defense of his IBF jr. middleweight title against unbeaten, No. 1-ranked Julian Williams (22-0-1, 14 KOs).

Mares, who in 2011 won SHOWTIME Sports’ Bantamweight Championship Tournament by outlasting Yohnny Perez, Vic Darchinyan, and Joseph Agbeko, is a former three-division world champion.

Mares, who also won world titles at 122 and 126 pounds, has always been one of the most colorful fighters in the lower-weight classes, but may have his hands full against the defending champion Cuellar.

Cuellar, the hard-hitting Argentine, will look to improve his record to 7-0 in world title fights. Cuellar has knockouts against former world champions Juan Manuel Lopez, Vic Darchinyan, and Rico Ramos.

“I’ve been wanting to fight Mares for about two years,” Cuellar said. “It’s finally going to happen. This is what I want. I’m going to make a statement. I’m very happy that this fight is finally here. I can’t wait to get in the ring on December 10. I’m thankful for the opportunity. I know Mares is popular in Los Angeles, but I have a following as well and they will be there to support me.”

Cuellar-Mares was supposed to have fought earlier this year, but an apparent failed physical due to an eye injury forced Mares to pull out from the fight. Mares is ready to fight and challenge for another world title. Mares will have former world champion Robert Garcia as his trainer.

“This is going to be a smarter Abner Mares,” the former champion said. “I’ve been learning a lot with Robert Garcia. They gave us a year to train and learn together. He’s a knowledgeable coach. He’s not just a guy who works mitts. This is the real deal. He gets you better and I’m really happy with him.”

Although Mares is the most celebrated of the two, it is Cuellar that has more momentum. Mares, who hasn’t fought since his 12-round majority defeat to Leo Santa Cruz in August 2015, previously won three consecutive fights since his shocking one-round, WBC featherweight title defeat to Jhonny Gonzalez more than three years ago. Mares hasn’t had a signature win in a big spot in quite some time and maybe, just maybe Cuellar is catching Mares at the right time.

Cuellar, trained by Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach, has been training long and hard for this fight, which may well be one of the toughest of Mares’ career.

“I’m training very hard and feeling physically strong,” Cuellar said. “We never stopped training for this fight. Mares will come prepared for a war and I hope that’s what the fight is like. It’s going to prove who has the bigger heart. I’ve been training with Freddie Roach for about four months. It’s been a great partnership and he will make me even better than I’ve been. We’ve been practicing really hard. Freddie is handing me the tools to go to work. You will see all my experience come together on fight night.”

Cuellar added: “Mares is a great fighter. He’s been a champion for many years. He’s never faced an opponent like me. This will be his hardest challenge.”

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