Contributor: Nolan Howell
Adrien Broner and Jessie Vargas both went into their catchweight Showtime Boxing main event looking to make a last grasp at relevance and contender status. Vargas sat at 2-2 in his last four, while Broner was definitively beaten by Mikey Garcia after three expected, but uninspiring victories.
Both would end up leaving the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York still uncertain after the final bell.
Vargas had Broner playing the defensive style he adopted early, as his jab set up everything else. Broner was content to fight a losing battle, landing a counter left hook for every four or five punches Vargas would connect on. Vargas switched his attack up to the body more approaching the middle of the fight, which allowed Broner to land more to the head, though he still was not active enough to make any ground on the scorecards. The attack of Vargas eventually slowed and Broner started to open up more in the later half of the fight, catching the pressuring Vargas coming in and unloading combinations against the ropes. The fight was nearly even going into the final two, with Undercard Superstar’s card needing Broner to win the final two rounds to win. Vargas controlled the penultimate round with his jab to thwart a pressuring Broner, while Broner was told by his corner before the final round that he needed to fight for a knockout that he was unable to secure.
Undercard Superstar scored the fight 115-113 Vargas. The judges scored it 115-113 Broner, 114-114, and 114-114 for a majority draw. After the match, the two got in each other’s faces with Broner trying to steal the microphone from Jim Gray and throwing homophobic and racist quips in his post-fight interview. Both seemed keen on a rematch, but Broner called for it at home in Cincinnati because there are “hella Mexicans in Brooklyn, wanting rice and chicken” and he wants to fight where people want Coney’s, promptly damaging any good will he earned turning in one of his best performances in years. The rematch should be an intriguing option for both.
In the co-main event, Jermall Charlo looked to become the mandatory for Gennady Golovkin in his second fight at middleweight by capturing the interim WBC Middleweight Championship against Hugo Centeno Jr. Centeno had some slight success in the first round, but Charlo seemed to figure out how to get him against the ropes and he did that in the second round. Centeno exploded out with a right uppercut on Charlo, but was walked back into the ropes again. Centeno tried an uppercut again and got caught with a right hook right on the chin. Centeno tried to clinch up and a slight clash of heads saw Charlo get another right hook that rocked Centeno. Centeno put up his right hand to block the left hook, but Charlo threw the left inside the glove and landed a right on the way down that punctuated the second-round knockout win.
It was another great highlight knockout reeled off by Charlo and he has positioned himself as one of the more interesting challengers for Golovkin when the time comes, while also potentially having a claim to the throne when Golovkin ages out of the game.
Gervonta Davis, despite his dominance in his undefeated career, needed to right the ship after losing the IBF Super Featherweight Championship on the scales last fight against Francisco Fonseca. Davis got a chance against Jesus Cuellar, coming off a tough split decision loss to Abner Mares, with the WBA Super Featherweight Championship on the line.
Cuellar was the aggressive fighter early, pressing Davis with looping hoops coming forward, but it didn’t take long for Davis to establish his counterpunching range. Establishing the lead right uppercut and straight left early, Davis landed a right hand to the body in the second that was followed by the power punch left hook to the liver that doubled Cuellar over on the canvas for the knockdown. Davis mixed it up to the body and head to close that round and open the third. Cuellar leaned into an uppercut in the third that send him reeling to the ropes, where Davis punished him with lead right hands to the body for the knockdown. Davis opened up the head off the body attack and a right hook set up the booming left hook to send Cuellar down, with an uppercut putting the cherry on top.
Davis said he would like the winner of Tevin Farmer and Billy Dib next, with a Vasyl Lomachenko fight likely off the books due to promotional differences. While disappointing to have to wait on that potential superfight, Davis has all the time in the world for seasoning and establishing a more stable status going forward.
This Showtime card finished off a great weekend for boxing with lots of interesting matches on the horizon in the aftermath.
-Nolan can be reached at email@example.com or @nolanundercard.