In an atmosphere ripe, buzzing and chomping at the bit for real or manufactured controversy, the actual fights prevailed. Imagine that? Actions spoke louder than words, despite the level of time and energy dedicated to typewritten exchanges between Adrien Broner, Jermall Charlo and Gervonta Davis, leading up to Saturday, April 21st. Once again, Showtime broadcasted a quality card, top to bottom, from Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Adrien Broner MD Jessie Vargas
Leave it to Adrien Broner (33-3-1, 24 KO’s) to record a draw in a “must-win”, “lose or go home” predicament. At a so-called career crossroads, Broner didn’t fancy either direction, and much like the man himself, the main-event was equal parts frustrating and encouraging.
Jessie Vargas (28-2-1, 10 KO’s) put most of the early rounds in his pocket via superior activity. He jabbed constantly to the head and/or body and fired occasional rights. In return, Broner waited. Near the end of round 2, Vargas virtually teed off with both hands, Broner seemingly content playing catch. As he would do throughout the affair, Kevin Cunningham urged Broner to be busier, to “let your hands go”. A.B. started walking Vargas down behind a high guard, landing pull counters and left hook leads. No ropes were needed for this one, as both men stayed in close proximity, attempting to chop each other down.
Broner’s superior strength in the pocket was surprising, considering he was the naturally smaller man. Nonetheless, he frequently forced Vargas on his back foot and held him at bay with forearms under the chin. The sheer physicality and psychology of the rounds clearly belonged to Broner, but not as much with the scoring criteria. The bout was a study in clean, effective, accurate shots vs. volume; it boiled down to preference. It was a tough fight to score; neither man seized victory nor appeared to lose outright. One judge gave Broner the nod 115-113, the other two scored it a draw, 114-114. Per punch-stats, Vargas landed 141 of 516 power shots (non jabs), with Broner tabulating 152 of 347. Again, it depended on your Pugilistic partiality.
A rematch would be an easy sell, especially as a co-main event. There’s also talk of Broner possibly facing Amir Khan this Summer.
Jermall Charlo vs. Hugo Centeno, Jr.
It didn’t take long for Jermall Charlo (27-0, 21 KO’s) to become the Interim WBC Middleweight champion, asserting himself as the mandatory challenger for Gennady Golovkin’s title, with a 2nd round high-light reel KO of Hugo Centeno, Jr (26-2, 14 KO’s). The 1st stanza was all about observation, feeling each other out; Charlo stalking behind his jab, Centeno moving, giving angles. But in the 2nd, the first real punching exchange of the bout was all it took. A looping right hand to the chest, just under the chin, snapped Centeno’s head, then a left hook crashed against his jaw. Centeno was out before hitting the canvas and he lay prone, flat on his back for the full 10-count and beyond.
Along with his brother Jermell, the Brothers Charlo are compiling quite a rolodex of impressive knockouts. Julian Williams, Charles Hatley, Erickson Lubin and now Centeno, Jr. can all testify. Charlo would obviously like to cash in on his mandatory spot to face Triple G, but he’s also practical. Golovkin is facing replacement opponent, Vanes Martirosyan, on May 5th, with his eyes clearly on the high dollar rematch with the suspended Canelo Alvarez in September. Charlo will bide his time and hopes to fight in his hometown of Houston next, in August.
Gervonta “Tank” Davis vs. Jesus Cuellar
From the ding of the opening bell, Jesus Cuellar (28-3, 21 KO’s) brought the fight to Gervonta Davis (20-0, 19 KO’s), perhaps wanting to see how “Tank” fared moving backwards and laterally. But almost immediately, Davis dropped counter left crosses over Cuellar’s right jab and counter left uppercuts underneath it. After doing his damnedest to make it a phone booth affair, Cuellar ate a right hook to the body and instantly retreated; precedent set. In round 2, a counter left to the body dropped Cuellar to a knee, and in the 3rd, a counter left uppercut staggered the brave Argentinian to the ropes, where yet another left to the torso deposited him to the mat. Upon rising, Cuellar was met with a bevy of hooks and uppercuts, breaking through, going around and under his protective guard. The third trip to the canvas forced the ref to intervene.
With the newly won WBA Super Feather title belt in his possession, Davis spoke of unifying against the winner of the Tevin Farmer-Billy Dibs bout. Vasyl Lomachenko’s name is always lingering, but “Tank” stated he only wanted that fight next if it’s a pay-per-view. That’s not realistic at this point, given Davis has yet to headline a Showtime card and Lomachenko hasn’t headlined a pay-per-view. There’s levels to this. If Davis maintains focus and stays active, he’ll prove to be a legitimate challenge to Lomachenko a year from now.