Jesus Cuellar: ‘I want to be the best in the featherweight division’
Nicholas Walters, Vasyl Lomachenko, and Abner Mares are all attempting to make a claim to be the top fighter at 126 pounds. All these fighters have won championship belts and are aiming to be the best in the featherweight division.
Jesus Cuellar has also aspired to attain championship gold but is still not as known to many boxing fans outside of his native Argentina. That could all change fairly soon, as an impressive win could put Cuellar in the limelight where bigger fights await.
Cuellar returns to action on Saturday against Vic Darchinyan at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. The bout, the co-feature to a “PBC on NBC” show headlined by the Robert Guerrero-Aron Martinez welterweight bout, will be televised live on NBC, beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET/ 1:30 p.m. PT.
Cuellar seems to be walking with a chip on his shoulder lately. And why not? He has won his last nine bouts in a row and trains in Oxnard, Calif. with one of the better trainers in boxing in Robert Garcia.
In his last bout on Dec. 20, Cuellar (26-1, 20 knockouts) stopped Ruben Tamayo in the fifth round in Shelton, Wash.
He now focuses his attention on Darchinyan, a three-time world titleholder but in the lower weight classes, many years ago. Cuellar will hold a reach and strength advantage over Darchinyan and while he is not overlooking the Armenian-born fighter, he is confident of having his hand raised in victory on Saturday.
“My opponent is difficult and he has experience,” Cuellar told RingTV in an interview during a workout on Monday. “We’ll see if that experience will help him out. He says he is going to knock me out. He does have a lot of power in those hands. I’m prepared to fight 12 rounds, for a war or anything else.”
While boxing insiders and writers believe Darchinyan (40-7-1, 29 KOs) has little to no chance on Saturday, Cuellar is taking the fight seriously. He has been training at Robert Garcia’s gym in Oxnard for the last three months.
“I want to give a good fight [for the fans].”
This is why Cuellar seems to be utilizing his strength more in recent fights. He is sitting down more on his punches and throwing combinations with more authority, as was evident in a recent workout.
Unless Cuellar moves up in weight any time soon, he could likely face the other titleholders in the division, which includes Walters, Lomachenko, and Mares. Should he come out victorious against Darchinyan, he wants to face the best fighters at 126 pounds.
“I want to be one of the best. I’m not mentioned but I know I’m one of the best. These fighters don’t mention me because they’re scared of me. All I know is that there is a risk in fighting me. I know I could beat any of them. If I have to fight them all, so be it.”
Cuellar has come a long way from fighting in obscurity in Argentina to now living the dream of being a titleholder. [Editor’s note: Cuellar holds the WBA “regular” featherweight title. THE RING only recognizes Walters as the WBA’s official titlist.] While he has fought on ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights” and “ShoBox,” the possibility of fighting on the premium networks during prime time becomes greater with each impressive win.
There is still work to be done in the gym and fights still have to be made but Cuellar is still anticipating big things in 2015. At 28 years of age, he is in the prime of his pro career and carries a lot of momentum as of now.
The sky is the limit for Cuellar and what he has accomplished thus far and what he will continue to do.
“I feel great. You learn the basics when you’re young but with Robert [Garcia] and [assistant] Donald [Leary], you learn a bit more. Some of the work you do in the ring doesn’t play out but the work I’ve done [over the last couple of years] with Robert and Donald has shown.”
“I’ve improved a lot with each fight. I’m always working hard to be the best in the [featherweight] division.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV since Oct. of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing