Adrien Broner told us this time would be different, and oh yes, we’d heard that before. But he also said this week that he needed to show us, not just tell us, that he’d be offering a performance to match his supposed skill set.
No title was at stake at Barclays Center, because AB needed a climb back win, needed to show the boxing world that the guy they saw against Mikey Garcia was an old version, and he was new, or new-ish, and improved. A new head trainer, Kevin Cunningham, was the vehicle for change, it was basically stated in the last month.
There was some change, but a lot of the same, because Broner wasn't busy as you'd like him to be. Still, he did enough to win one card, 115-113 (Julie Lederman liked his effort). But that card was over-ruled, by two tabulations of 114-114 (Eric Marlinski and Kevin Morgan). The majority draw call drew boos, a good amount, from the assembled at Barclays Center. And these stats tell you why…
He showed pockets, flashes, and won several rounds with flashy power shots. But you felt too often that he could do more, if his will power matched his skill set. If his desire matched his skills, he'd have left with the W. That was a familiar chapter in the Broner book…
AB came ringside and told media he thought he won 7-5, and that he looked pretty and Vargas' face looked messed up. He thought Vargas would be heading to the hospital. Cunningham too told us he thought his guy won. “Coach, come in the back and cuss me out,” Broner said to Cunningham, as they walked to the back.
Broner after to Jim Gray said he thought he won, Vargas said the same. All in all, a pretty entertaining scrap for the 13,964 that convened.
“I want to thank Jessie Vargas,” said Broner right after. “He’s a two-time world champion for a reason. He came to fight but at the end of the day you all know I beat him. Point blank, period.” He drew heat on social for his brashness post fight…
“I was connecting with right hands. I got warmed up in the early portion of the fight before taking over. My trainer was a big help tonight. I want to thank Coach Cunningham as well as my original coach, Mike Stafford, for realizing I needed to do something different,” AB said.
“I would love to fight Vargas again but let’s go back to my town to do it.”
“We went at it for 12 rounds,” Vargas said after. “We can do it again. I’m ready to fight right now.
“I thought I won the fight. At the end of the day I can’t argue because I was fighting on the inside of the ring so I don’t know what you saw from the outside. I was landing clean blows. It was a good fight but at the end of the day I can’t dispute the decision.
“It must have been a close fight for the judges to have scored it the way they did. I felt that I won the fight and I was up two rounds. I’m relying on the judges to make the right decision.
“The cut under my eye bothered me but we can’t make any excuses. We have to keep fighting. I gave the fans here in Brooklyn a show and I’d love to come back and do it again. We can run it back.”
There are worse fights to make, but I think AB will go in another direction, you?
In the first, the former two division champ Vargas (28-2 entering; from Vegas; 143.8) looked to be the taller man, worked a jab. Broner was not busy, and the crowd told him so with a minute left. And at the end of the round.
In the second, Broner (won titles in four classes; 144; from Cincy; 33-3 entering) showed that wide stance, and again, not enough action with the fists, to start off. He stared and looked for that perfect opening, instead of making the opening with combos. Vargas popped a jab, stayed tall, edged forward, and the pace suited him, the man with slower hands.
In the third, Broner got busier, looked to close distance some, impose himself on Vargas. A right uppercut got the peeps jazzed. AB worked to the body some, and from underneath when Vargas stooped. To round 4; Vargas looked confident, like he’d not seen or felt anything scary.
In the fifth, AB wanted to land the jab first. Then Vargas got to work, and was busier, dug low then high. Broner went down, but off a slip. They traded to end the round.
In round six, we saw AB being quick with a jab. Vargas responded with body blows, and he stalked the Ohio boxer. Broner went low with a left and received a warning from the ref. In the 7th, Vargas was initiating more. Broner would catch, but not shoot, not often enough. Late in the round, he started pot shotting, to decent effect. But his arm punches weren’t nasty, and there weren’t enough of them.
In the 8th, Broner got walked down. He put that shoulder D up, but there needed to be O, not just D. Broner landed a straight right that worked, well, and Vargas answered at the bell. To 9; Vargas kept up the work rate, could he go 12 with that level of activity? Broner won the round with a snap-back shot.
In the tenth, we saw Vargas jab more to keep AB at bay. It was a tight round, with Vargas doing more consistent work and again a late trade had the crowd nutso. In 11, we saw Broner wait too much, and he lost momentum. He stalked but didn’t throw. When he did, he landed decently. His uppercuts were working. Vargas streamed blood, but hung in there, and then Stitch Duran went to work. To round 12, Broner wasn't as busy as the crowd thought he should be. Where was the fire and desire? Boos popped up, once, twice. We'd go to the cards…
Here is the release Showtime sent out, which touched on the other two fights on the cablecast:
Former 154-pound champion Jermall Charlo sent a statement to the middleweight division in the co-main event, knocking out previously once-beaten contender Hugo Centeno Jr. to capture the interim WBC 160-pound title. VIDEO: https://s.sho.com/2vxBnDM
Charlo is now the mandatory for Gennady “GGG” Golovkin and didn’t shy away from calling out the WBC, WBA and IBF Middleweight World Champion.
“It’s been an amazing journey to get here,” said Charlo, the twin brother of WBC 154-pound champion Jermell Charlo. “I’m a two-time world champion. Bring on ‘GGG.’ I want that fight. I’m 27-0 with 21 knockouts. Everybody sees it. What more can I say?”
Charlo (27-0, 21 KOs) proved that his power translates to middleweight as he knocked out his second opponent since relinquishing his title and moving to 160 pounds. The Houston native has now won via knockout in five of his six bouts since initially becoming champion in 2015. A series of shots opened up a huge left hook in the opening minute of the second round, flooring Centeno (26-2, 14 KOs), who failed to beat the 10-count and was counted out at :55.
“Everybody has always avoided me and from now on, this is how it’s going to be,” said Charlo. “You see what you get.”
Following the fight, Centeno was aware of the mistakes that led to the loss.
“I thought I started off pretty well. I wanted to go out on my shield but it wasn't my day,” Centeno said. “He caught me and got the knockout. I was trying to work my jab. I thought I got him with a couple good shots but I lingered too long in the pocket and I didn't get out in time.”
In the opening bout of the telecast, Gervonta Davis became a two-time world champion in empathic fashion with a third round TKO of former champion Jesus Cuellar to capture the vacant WBA 130-pound World Championship.
The undefeated Davis (20-0, 19 KOs), who lost the IBF 130-pound title on the scales last August, scored three knockdowns in less than three rounds to win his second title in the super featherweight division. The 23-year-old connected on 49 percent of his power shots in his first bout with new trainer Kevin Cunningham.
“On the undercard of the Mayweather-McGregor fight, I just wasn’t focused,” Davis said. “It was the second time fighting on Mayweather’s card so it got to my head and it showed. After the fight, I went home and talked to my team and we decided it was time to leave Baltimore. I’m focused and it showed because I’m a champ again.
“There’s always bumps in the road when you want to become successful. It’s all about how you bounce back and tonight I showed that I’m a true champion.”
Davis utilized a combination of body shots, uppercuts and effective counterpunching to break down Cuellar, a former titlist at 126-pounds. Baltimore’s Davis floored Cuellar with a body blow in the second round and didn’t relent from there. The southpaw pressed forward in the third, stalking Cuellar against the ropes and sending him down for the second time with a series of combinations. Cuellar (28-3, 21 KOs) got up, but was in serious trouble and referee Benjy Esteves stepped in to halt the contest at 2:45with the Argentine falling to the canvas for the third time.
“The game plan was to box a little bit and open him up with some shots,” Davis said. “When it was time, I went forward and caught him with enough shots to get him out.
“I want the IBF belt back and I'm ready to unify it with whoever wins the [Tevin] Farmer vs. [Billy] Dib fight.”
On Saturday’s telecast, it was announced that Errol Spence Jr. will make the second defense of his IBF Welterweight World Championship against undefeated mandatory challenger Carlos Ocampo June 16 on SHOWTIME in a homecoming fight in Dallas.
Saturday’s SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING tripleheader will replay on Monday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME EXTREME.