With a rare, perhaps unprecedented level of A-side tension simmering, Adrien Broner, Jermall Charlo and Gervonta Davis wrapped up training camp’s, heading into this Saturday’s much talked about triple-header at Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, NY. Presented by Premier Boxing Champion’s, this card will broadcast live on Showtime Championship Boxing. All the while, playful boasts of shining brightest on fight night have been replaced with hurtful comments and challenges to each other’s manhood. What can’t be lost or forgotten in this study of urban gamesmanship is the fact all three are facing legit opponents. No sacrificial lambs are being led to slaughter on April 21st.
Make no mistake, Jessie Vargas, Hugo Centeno, Jr., and Jesus Cuellar are in it to win it. And there’s a healthy heaping of drama and distraction in the air to make them even more confident than they probably would’ve been already.
Social media is at the root of dissension between the PBC headliners; Charlo’s incendiary video response to a negative post of Davis. Per Charlo, Broner and Davis were less than thrilled by his inclusion on what they presumed to be a Showtime double-header. It’s strange to see beef between pugilists nowhere near each other’s weight class, but a tacit kibosh appears to have been placed on the matter by advisor, Al Haymon, or someone in that circle. And no matter how cliqued up the parties involved may be Saturday night, the in-ring, professional fights are all that matter.
Adrien Broner (33-3, 24 KO’s) vs. Jessie Vargas (28-2, 10 KO’s) – Broner, 28, has more lives than a perpetually reincarnating feline. The former 4-weight world champion’s career has seen more ebbs and flows than the tallest, steepest roller-coaster. Arguably boxing’s biggest personality, pound for pound, Broner can lose convincingly, get arrested, go to court, feud with flavor of the month hip-hop artists and headline a show all over again in his next outing. It’s what he does and fans continue to pay attention and show up in droves whenever Adrien’s on a bill. His worth as an attraction is hard to explain, yet tangible.
Jessie Vargas, 28 (29 on May 10th), is a replacement opponent for the originally scheduled Omar Figueroa. Vargas himself was slated to be Keith Thurman’s comeback foe, but those plans were nixed and Thurman was subsequently reinjured. Vargas has some quality scalps on his resume; Vivian Harris, Josesito Lopez , Lanardo Tyner, Steve Forbes, Tony DeMarco and a 9th round KO of reigning WBO Jr. Middleweight champion, Sadam Ali. Most notably, he’s lost to Tim Bradley and Manny Pacquiao, in his biggest bouts. Vargas is a ballsy, determined, aggressive boxer in the Mikey Garcia mold, though not as quick, precise, skillful and accurate. He’s more a winger also.
Broner’s mandated a catchweight of 144 pounds, but Vargas doesn’t seem or sound concerned. He’s given full length interviews while skipping rope for the duration and is over the moon about the recent addition of Hall of Famer, Mike McCallum, as his trainer. Broner himself has added Kevin Cunningham to his team, in hopes of a more focused, disciplined environment. It’s impossible to handicap an Adrien Broner fight, but if “A.B.” isn’t “All Business”, Jessie Vargas will be the 4th loss of his career.
Jermall Charlo (26-0, 20 KO’s) vs. Hugo Centeno, Jr. (26-1, 14 KO’s) – This WBC Interim Middleweight title bout was pushed back to this Saturday’s card due to a Centeno injury. Charlo, 27 (28 on May 19th), is a high strung dude and clapped back at the perceived slight of Davis and Broner not being happy with his date being sandwiched into this showcase. Simultaneously, Charlo had a verbal altercation with Brooklyn’s Daniel Jacobs, who will undoubtedly be at Barclay’s this weekend and headlines there himself on April 27th. Can you feel the love?
With Charlo presumably having irons in multiple fires, Hugo Centeno, Jr. is hoping to catch him slipping. He fought to a 4-round no contest with the same Julian Williams Charlo stopped in 5, he knocked out James Dela Rosa and was finished in the 10th by Maciej Sulecki, who will be sharing the ring with the aforementioned Jacobs next Saturday. Charlo and his twin brother, Jermell, have a knack for thriving in frenzy, for excelling within controversy and this is yet another occasion to demonstrate it.
Gervonta Davis (19-0, 18 KO’s) vs. Jesus Cuellar (28-2, 21 KO’s) - In addition to chirping at Charlo on-line “Tank” Davis has been dropping cryptic posts suggesting he’s not too happy with how Mayweather Promotions is handling his career. He spoke of being “rushed” into fights and doing more things “on my own” than anticipated. Whether this contributed to him losing his IBF Super Featherweight title on the scale, preceding his co-main event appearance on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor is unknown. Either way, it’s disappointing that a 22 year old (at the time) fighter missed weight with the second largest captive pay-per-view audience in history watching. Nonetheless, “Tank” will be vying for the WBA Super Featherweight title Saturday, and if he’s jogged half as much as he types, he’ll easily make 130 pounds.
Jesus Cuellar, 32, is a tough Argentinian. He’s beaten Rico Ramos, stopped JuanMa Lopez and Vic Darchinyan, and lost a close decision to Abner Mares. The thing is, Mares dropped Cuellar in the process, which doesn’t bode well for him as he moves up to face “Tank” Davis. Expect Davis to start the Showtime telecast off in explosive fashion.