Saturday night at the Barclays center in Brooklyn NY, Showtime boxing presented a triple header event headlined by multi-division world champions Adrien Broner and Jessie Vargas facing off at a 144lb catch-weight bout. In the co features were former world champions Jermall Charlo and Gervonta Davis in middleweight and Super Featherweight world title bouts.
The main event between Adrien Broner and Jessie Vargas was an important fight for both men, Vargas a former two division champion has fought just once since losing his WBO world title to Manny Pacquiao in 2016. That lone bout a one sided unanimous decision against mediocre Aaron Herrera this past December, his inactivity caused Vargas to slide down the Welterweight ladder to almost non-existent status among the top names. As for Broner a questionable hometown split decision win over Adrien Granados in February of 2017 then one sided loss against Mikey Garcia last July on top of his out of the ring issues has him teetering on “Has Been” status. A win was pivotal for both men should they expect to continue being considered among top names in boxing.
Entering the bout perhaps the most important question surrounding Broner was “Will he conform to the no nonsense training camp of Kevin Cunningham and follow his instructions during the fight?”. At the start it appeared as though Broner had not gained anything from working with Cunningham and no blame to be had towards Cunningham as a trainer. He implored Broner to let his hands go as he plodded forward while Vargas worked his jab and piled up points. Once the first seven rounds had passed it appeared to most that Broner had lost every round with possibly exception of round five when he was not active but accurate with his punches.
After the mid-way point passed Vargas slowed his pace due to what appeared fatigue, Broner started lading his shots clean and effective even though he was being outworked and taking body punishment from Vargas. The eighth through eleventh rounds were in Broner’s favor though he did not clearly dominate he did impose his will on Vargas. In between rounds eleven and twelve Kevin Cunningham screamed at Broner stating “You need to fight this last round like you need a knockout, you need to punch non-stop” hinting that Cunningham felt the bout was in question. While Cunningham gave Broner the right instructions Broner failed to carry them out and allowed Vargas to control and win the round using his jab. When it was over official scores read 115-113 for Broner handed in by Julie Lederman, that score was over ruled by judges Eric Marlinski and Kevin Morgan who seen it 114-114 making the bout a majority draw.
I personally had it scored 116-112 in favor of Jessie Vargas based off his first half domination and later close rounds. The usually fair Julie Lederman did a horrible job as did referee Charlie Fitch who usually does a phenomenal job but allowed Broner to use his elbow throughout the night. With the majority draw Adrien Broner now stands at 33-3-1 (24) while Jessie Vargas 28-2-1 (10). This fight did more to benefit Vargas than Broner in my opinion as most felt he deserved the nod according to online polls with Showtime at minimum he proved capable of making exciting fights against anyone. In his post fight comments Broner cursed at the crowd and used slurs against Mexicans to further prove his lack of class despite being with a new team.
The WBC Interim title bout between former 154lb IBF belt holder Jermall Charlo and once beaten Hugo Centeno Jr as expected was a mismatch on paper and between the ropes. The only thing in favor of Centeno Jr entering the contest was his slight height and reach advantage which he never attempted to capitalize on. He bounced around from corner to corner from the start allowing Charlo to pin him against the ropes. It took under two rounds for Charlo to lay Centeno Jr out cold and become the WBC Interim belt holder. With that belt Charlo is now the mandatory challenger for Gennady Golovkin’s WBC world title belt and improved his resume to 27-0 (21) while Hugo Centeno Jr now stands at 26-2 (14).
The night’s televised card opened with former IBF Super Featherweight belt holder Gervonta Davis taking on former world champion Jesus Cuellar for the vacant WBA Super World super featherweight title. In recent times the 23 yr old Davis despite being undefeated has not focused on bouts to the fullest, last August prior to facing Francisco Fonseca in a title defense Davis was stripped of his IBF belt for not making the division weight limit. With new trainer Kevin Cunningham working his camp, Davis came in Saturday night looking to be physically at the best shape of his career so far and once the bell rang he performed just as well.
The smaller Cuellar pressured Davis in the opening round looking to outwork and throw off his timing yet Davis remained composed throwing accurate shots that hurt Cuellar to the body. The difference in hand speed favoring Davis dropped Cuellar in round two with a brutal liver punch delivered after Cuellar attempted an overhand right to Davis head. While Cuellar recovered enough to finish the round, his luck would fare no better in round three.
It would be another counter punch to the body delivered by Davis that sent Cuellar packing at 2:45 of round number three, making him a two time world title holder. With the win Gervonta Davis now the WBA Super world Super Featherweight title holder improved to 20-0 (19) while Jesus Cuellar now stands at 28-3 (21). The version of Gervonta Davis in the ring Saturday night has a bright future ahead of him, not only was he is peak physical condition but his overall attitude appeared changed for the better. Instead of being boastful and arrogant Davis admitted his recent shortcomings being due to his lack of dedication. He also credited Kevin Cunningham for being a no nonsense type trainer who does not allow anyone in camp to lose focus on their aspirations as a fighter. With Vasyl Lomachenko moving up to lightweight for a showdown against Jorge Linares should Lomachenko stay in that division Davis could become the new Super Featherweight Kingpin.
In Undercard action-
Featherweight Heather Hardy improved to 21-0 (4) when she defeated Iranda Paola Torres 12-3-1 (5) by unanimous decision and claimed the vacant NABF Female Featherweight Title for her efforts.
Welterweight Fabian Andres Maidana younger brother of two division world champion Marcos Maidana improved to 15-0 (11) with a third round stoppage over Justin Savi 31-16-2 (21).