Photo © Ramon Cairo
Argentina is one of the toughest proving grounds in world boxing. On a regular basis, young Argentine fighters are matched with seasoned campaigners, fellow prospects or outright thrown into the deep end. They certainly believe in the tough love approach and only the strongest survive. For the most part, rising featherweight Jesus Marcelo Andres Cuellar negotiated the early pitfalls. The once-beaten, heavy-handed southpaw, who turned 26 in late December, boasts an impressive 22-1 (18) record. The one loss was almost 16 months ago when (with just 10 days notice) Cuellar dropped down to 122 and took on better-than-advertised Oscar Escandon. Severely weight drained, Cuellar was dropped twice in the seventh round before being stopped. Since then, he’s returned to his more natural weight where he’s run off five straight victories with four stoppages amongst them. He is currently debating following stablemate Marcos Maidana to America to train and seems primed and ready for an assault on the 126-pound division’s best.
Anson Wainwright - You stayed busy with a first round KO over Gustavo Daniel Gonzalez back last December. Can you tell us a little about the fight?
Jesus Marcelo Andres Cuellar - Well, I was so motivated for that fight as it took place at the legendary Luna Park Stadium in Buenos Aires, which has been the venue where almost all great world champions from Argentina have fought. My confidence was great, so I went for the knockout right after the first bell rang. And I landed a vicious right cross that put him down for the count.
AW - What are your plans for 2013?
JMAC - We were offered a fight against WBA interim featherweight champion Javier Fortuna for April 27th in Buenos Aires on the card where Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez is fighting Martin Murray. Sampson Lewkowicz offered the fight to my advisor, Sebastian Contursi, and I accepted it right away but unfortunately, something happened. They told me HBO had not accepted the fight but I really think Fortuna did not want to come to Argentina and defend his title against me. So now we’ll see. I’m thinking of starting training in the U.S.
AW - Who are the key members of your team?
JMAC - My advisor is Sebastian Contursi who also works with Marcos Maidana. My trainer is Christian Rodriguez and I train at a gym in my own neighbourhood, Jose C. Paz.
AW - For those fans who perhaps aren’t as familiar with you, tell us a little about your fighting style.
JMAC - I’m southpaw and consider myself a brawler with some decent technique as I have a vast experience in the amateurs where I’ve learned so much.
AW - What were your early years like growing up in Buenos Aires?
JMAC - I was one of eight daughters and sons from my parents. We were very poor, so me and my brother had to help my father work in construction since I was eight years old. They were rough times and I was a troublemaker brat. I didn’t have any toys, so me and my brother’s only entertainment was playing fighters. I used to fight all the kids on the streets, so my father saw conditions in me and he started training me in boxing when I was only six. We used to train at home. I had my first exhibition fight at 10.
AW - You came into the pro game with very good amateur credentials, which included appearing at two World Championships. Could you tell us about your amateur career?
JMAC - After almost 200 fights, I was called up by the Argentinean national team with which I won a South American tournament, four gold medals and two silver medals in Pan American and World Championships. I’ve fought 40 times for the national team and won 35 of them but unfortunately, I was not able to make it to the Olympics because I always had a pro style. In all, I have 240 fights on my shoulders and was beaten only 10 times.
AW - How far do you think you are from the top guys at 126? What do you consider your strengths and what areas are you still working on?
JMAC - It’s a tough division but I’m 100% confident that I’m not far from the best fighters. In fact, all I want is a shot at them to prove myself right. I am a brawler with great punch and that’s my greatest strength and I’m working in my defence as sometimes, I get a little carried away trying for the KO.
AW - What are your thoughts on the featherweight division and its current champions?
JMAC - It’s a very competitive division. You have guys like Juan Manuel Lopez, Orlando Salido, Chris John but also you have the new generation like Mikey Garcia, Fortuna, Billy Dib or Nicholas Walters. I think they are very good fighters but I will beat some of them soon.
AW - You have lost once in 23 bouts when you fought Oscar Escandon. He beat you in October 2011, stopping you in seven rounds. Can you tell us about that fight?
JMAC - That was the most frustrating experience of my life. At the time, I was working with a manager who asked me to move down to super bantamweight since he had gotten an excellent opportunity for me to face a beatable guy in a WBO eliminator with the winner apparently facing Jorge “Travieso” Arce. I trusted him and made the sacrifice to move down. I learned who my opponent would be only 10 days before the fight and it was Escandon, who is a good fighter indeed. I was in terrible physical condition since I was drained and dehydrated like hell. On top of that, at weigh-in, I realized that it was not an eliminator and that Escandon came in as a featherweight. It was crazy.
AW - Tell us about yourself as a person. What you enjoy doing away from boxing?
JMAC - I’m a very simple person. My whole life is committed to boxing. But when I’m away from training, I like being in the country, the fields, riding horses. That’s what I love most. Also, spending time with my family and friends, just doing some great relaxing time while we eat the traditional asados or Argentina’s barbecues.
AW - Who was your boxing hero growing up? Also, who do you like to watch today?
JMAC - To be honest, I don’t have a boxing hero but I do watch almost every fight they have on TV. I like fighters like Miguel Cotto.
AW - In closing, do you have a message for the featherweight division?
JMAC - Yes. Just watch out for me because soon, I’ll be making some noise and I’d love to have people’s support.
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