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Abner Mares, Fernando Montiel to meet in March featherweight fight

Former three-division world titleholder Abner Mares and Fernando Montiel, both coming off hard-fought decision losses in featherweight world title bouts, will face each other as each looks to bounce back and get back into contention.

They will meet in a scheduled 10-round featherweight fight on March 12 (CBS, 8:30 p.m. ET) at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, organizers announced Wednesday. They will serve as the co-feature on the card -- the first on CBS in prime time since Feb. 15, 1978, when Muhammad Ali lost a 15-round split decision and the heavyweight title to Leon Spinks in a massive upset -- headlined by the much-anticipated fight between welterweight titleholder Keith Thurman and former titlist Shawn Porter.

Mares (29-2-1, 15 KOs), a Mexico native fighting out of Downey, California, won world titles at bantamweight, junior featherweight and featherweight. He challenged for a vacant featherweight belt in his last fight, taking on Leo Santa Cruz on Aug. 29 in the battle for Los Angeles at the Staples Center and losing an action-packed majority decision.

Mares said he is excited to return to action under the tutelage of new trainer Robert Garcia.

"I'm ready to get back in the ring and have the boxing world see the monster that the Mares and Robert Garcia partnership is creating," Mares said. "I'm a tough fighter. I've made some adjustments and I will show my warrior spirit and skill on March 12. It's time to go to work."

Montiel (54-5-2, 39 KOs), 36, of Mexico, a pro for 20 years, won world titles at flyweight, junior bantamweight and bantamweight but has not been able to replicate the success as a featherweight.

He challenged Wales' Lee Selby for his featherweight world title on Oct. 14 in Glendale, Arizona, but lost a unanimous decision, ending an eight-fight winning streak. He said he has wanted to face Mares for quite some time.

"I have been wanting to fight Abner Mares for many years," Montiel said. "They say that styles make fights and Abner Mares' style is tailor made for me. My last fight was a close decision against one of the best featherweights in the world in Lee Selby. I need to make every fight count and on March 12 Abner Mares will be my next step to another world title."

Like many, Lou DiBella, who is promoting the event, expects a fan-friendly fight between fighters known for coming to battle.

"Abner Mares and Fernando Montiel are both proud warriors," DiBella said. "Both are coming off tough, competitive fights and both must win to once again realize championship dreams. This will be a throw down, entertaining battle."