By Jason Gonzalez
Former welterweight champions Adrien Broner and Jessie Vargas fought to an exciting majority draw in the main event held at Barclays Center last Saturday night. The contest marked Broner’s first time in the squared circle since losing a lopsided decision to Mikey Garcia last summer.
The contest was fought at a contractual weight of 144 pounds, before a raucous crowd of 13,964. The bout delivered great action; however, the conclusion was anti-climactic to say the least.
Maxboxing.com scored 115-113 in favor of Broner, as did Judge Julie Lederman. The remaining two ringside officials trumped Lederman’s card with scores of 114-114 each.
“I want to thank Jessie Vargas. He’s a two-time world champion for a reason,” Broner said, now 33-3-1, (24). “He came to fight but at the end of the day you all know I beat him. Point blank, period.”
As for Vargas, well he thought that his hand should have been raised as the victor. But then again, what fighter would confess to losing a scrap?
“It must have been a close fight for the judges to have scored it the way they did,” Vargas said. “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 bout marked for the first time Broner had a different trainer in his corner. Broner replaced Mike Stafford with Kevin Cunningham of St. Louis, Missouri. Cunningham is a former detective that has guided the careers of undisputed welterweight champion Cory Spinks, and former champion Devon Alexander.
But as the old adage goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. We all saw the same Broner in the ring. As Vargas dominated the first half of the fight, Broner pressed the action in the latter half.
In like every other Broner fight in the past, regardless of skill level, athleticism, and ring intelligence equivalency, Broner turns everything into a life and death grudge match.
The only difference this time was that he fought with some type urgency, especially later in the match. But instead of looking to set his offense up, the way elite fighters do, Broner thought that he was George Foreman, in so that he was looking to end the fight with one shot.
“I was connecting with right hands. I got warmed up in the early portion of the fight before taking over,” said the 28-year-old Broner of Cincinnati, Ohio. 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.”
But that’s just it, nothing changed. Broner is merely romanticizing an illusion that anyone can see right though. Broner has won world titles from 130-147, but was on the losing end of three decisions whenever he stepped in opposition. Besides losing to Garcia, he has lost to Shawn Porter and Marcos Maidana.
Broner, who is known as “The Problem” in boxing circles, literally has one of his own that he can’t seem to solve. He’s outgrown the junior welterweight division and is too small to fight at welterweight. So what does he do? Fight at catchweight, but the flipside would be a big name opponent refuse to meet at either 144 or 145.
Vargas, a 28-year-old resident of Las Vegas, Nevada was returning to the ring for the first time since losing a unanimous decision to Manny Pacquiao over a year ago. At 28-2-1, (10) Vargas’s biggest win came against current junior middleweight champion Sadam Ali, in which Vargas stopped him
But with Vargas what you see is what you get.He’s a dog that looks to grind and outwork his counterpart. Vargas was aggressive from the outset.
He moved forward, attacking the head and body of Broner. You would think that Vargas’ flat footed style and lack of punching prowess would benefit Broner’s more athletic style, but yet did very little, except throwing an occasionally punch here and there.
As a result of Broner catering to Vargas’s style, both fighters traded hard shots. Vargas pressed his foe, while Broner countered with head shots.
As the fight progressed into the later rounds, each frame looked like a carbon copy of the last. In the championship rounds, Broner brandished some swelling around his right eye, while Vargas was cut over his left eye. Broner would hurt Vargas with a right uppercut, in which Broner followed up, but failed to close the show, which was also a testament to the chin that Vargas possess.
Broner won the 10th round. Broner would hurt Vargas again with a straight right hand-left hook combo which was preceded by a left hook to the head.
In the 11th round, a Broner flurry opened a cut over Vargas’s left eye.
"The cut bothered me, but we can’t make any excuses," said the classy Vargas after the fight. "We have to keep fighting."
As the 12th round concluded, an argument could be made that either charge won it. A draw was a reasonable and realistic possibility. The official scorecards were just off by one round.
Both men said they are interested in a rematch. Saturday’s fight provided the kind of action that would prompt fight fans to want to see it again.
“We can do it again. I’m ready to fight right now,” Vargas said.
"I would love to fight Vargas again, but let’s go back to my town to do it,” said Broner
As it relates to Broner, 99 out of 100 times he will always be the more gifted fighter in the ring. However, his inability to focus and lack of discipline results in his fights being close, and will typically wind up in a scrap in which he narrowly escapes the perils of defeat.
Broner has three options moving forward. He can fight a rematch with Vargas; he could also face Amir Khan, in what would be huge financially in the United Kingdom, and lastly a bout with Victor Ortiz. A fight with Ortiz wouldn’t have any implications in the welterweight division, but it sure would be fun to watch while it lasts.
In retrospect, hindsight is always 20/20. I wonder how Broner feels now that he turned down RocNation’s $40 million dollar offer three years ago.
He will never see those type of numbers again.
But instead he will go down in boxing history as the worst four-division champion that the sport has ever seen.
Jermall Charlo did what he said he was going to do. Charlo knocked out Hugo Centeno Jr. in two rounds, thus capturing the interim WBC middleweight title in the co-main feature bout of the evening.
Charlo has now become the mandatory challenger for Gennady “GGG” Golovkin.
“It’s been an amazing journey to get here. I’m a two-time world champion. Bring on Triple G! I want that fight!” said Charlo. “The networks and the teams can figure out how to get the Triple G fight done. I have the best manager in the world. I’m twenty-seven and zero with twenty-one knockouts. Everybody sees it. What more can I say?
Everybody has always avoided me and from now on, this is how it’s going to be. You see what you get.”
Baltimore native Gervonta “Tank” Davis, a southpaw, improved to 20-0 (19), scoring a spectacular third round stoppage over the Argentine Jesus Cuellar to claim the vacant WBA super featherweight title.
Davis dropped his title on the scales last August, when he failed to make weight against Francisco Campos. Davis scored three knockdowns over the course of three rounds, under the watchful eye of new trainer Cunningham.
Davis’s onslaught prompted referee Benjy Esteves to step in and call a halt to the bout at the 2:45 when Cuellar touched the canvas for the third time.
“The game plan was to box a little bit and open him up with some shots,” said the 23-year-old Davis. “When it was time, I went forward and caught him with enough shots to get him out. I’ve been working hard in the gym because I knew Cuellar was a strong opponent I had in front of me. He came to fight and I give him credit for that. My team put me back in this position and I’m thankful for it. I’m humble and focused going forward. I’m on the road to greatness. Great things are coming for me. I want the IBF belt back and I’m ready to unify it with whoever wins the [Tevin] Farmer vs. [Billy] Dib fight."