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Broner vs Vargas: Fight preview and matchup

Adrien Broner and Jessie Vargas meet this Saturday night on Showtime.

Adrien Broner

Adrien Broner v Mikey Garcia Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Record: 33-3 (24 KO) ... Streak: L1 ... Last 5: 3-2 ... Last 10: 7-3 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5’6” / 69” ... Age: 28

Matchup: I’m tired of talking about Adrien Broner.

He’s not the second coming of Floyd Mayweather, he’s not a great fighter, and he’s not so young anymore that you can expect him to “turn it on” and become what he was supposed to be.

Adrien Broner is a good fighter with exceptional gifts who doesn’t always put in the performance he seems capable of putting in. He gets main events because he’s worth money, because he gets people to pay attention to him, and I really have no problem with that. Boxing is a business, and Broner does business.

I honestly wish he were better than he is. It’d be good for the sport to have a controversial character like AB up on top, where he thinks he belongs, where he was supposed to be, according to the old hype machines of the TV networks he fought on (HBO, let’s just say HBO). He talks a great game. He brings people out to see him. He is a star, no matter how he performs in big fights.

But he’s not a great fighter, and he’s not going to suddenly become one. He lost to Marcos Maidana, he lost to Shawn Porter, he lost to Mikey Garcia. He went life-and-death with Adrian Granados, Paulie Malignaggi, and Daniel Ponce De Leon. Even Ashley Theophane and Emmanuel Taylor gave him more trouble than was expected.

I can’t psychoanalyze Broner and figure out why the whole doesn’t add up to what is believed to be the sum of his parts, but it’s not. It’s been plain to see over the last seven years of him in major fights on major cards on major TV networks. He’s struggled far more than he’s dominated against decent opponents.

But who knows? Maybe on Saturday, with new trainer Kevin Cunningham, the light goes on and AB becomes “The Problem” for real. One can always hope.

Jessie Vargas

Manny Pacquiao v Jessie Vargas Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Record: 28-2 (10 KO) ... Streak: W1 ... Last 5: 3-2 ... Last 10: 8-2 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5’10” / 71” ... Age: 28

Thoughts: Vargas is naturally a bit bigger than Broner, maybe physically stronger even if not a big puncher, and a good fighter. He briefly held the WBO welterweight title, beating Sadam Ali in 2016, before losing it via rout to Manny Pacquiao eight months later, and he gave Tim Bradley an OK fight in 2015, famously hurting him late before the fight was stopped a few seconds early.

Is Vargas special? No. He came back last December after 13 months out of the ring and won a shutout decision over Aaron Herrera, a veteran scrapper who never had a chance. Vargas was patient and did his work in that fight, but it’s hard to say he really impressed, even winning every round. He should’ve won every round. He’s a lot better fighter than Herrera.

Vargas is never going to be on pound-for-pound lists. But he’s solid. He doesn’t have huge holes in his game, doesn’t make a ton of bad mistakes, and the only fighters to beat him were world class guys who consistently gave world class performances in Pacquiao and Bradley.

The same can’t really be said of Broner, and that’s why I think Vargas has a perfectly good chance at the win in this matchup. He can’t match Broner’s speed, maybe can’t even match his power despite being a bit bigger of a man, but he doesn’t have the flaws that Broner has, either, and Broner can be outboxed, despite his physical gifts. Mikey Garcia did it last time Broner fought, and while Vargas isn’t as good as Garcia P4P, he’s bigger and can use some of that same approach. It’s not like Mikey went out there and thrashed Broner, he professionally and efficiently racked up points over 12 rounds.

Matchup Grade: B. I might not sound overly positive about this one, but I can’t hate on the matchup, as I think it’s about 50-50. Broner has more to his game when he is able to use it, when he chooses to use it, however you want to put it. But Jessie Vargas is a consistent fighter, and Broner isn’t. If Broner has his head on straight, he really should win. But there’s plenty out there that would make you think he doesn’t right now. We’ll see which AB shows up on fight night, but whichever it is, I do expect it to be a good fight.


  • Jermall Charlo vs Hugo Centeno Jr: Charlo (26-0, 20 KO) has the buzz and the hype, and rightfully so. In his wins over Cornelius Bundrage, Wilky Campfort, Julian Williams, and Sebastian Heiland, he’s looked devastating. But two fights ago, crafty Austin Trout went the distance and gave Charlo all he could handle. Centeno (26-1, 14 KO) was a hyped prospect at one time, too, and at 27 is in position to rebound even better than he did in his last fight, a highlight reel KO over previously-unbeaten Immanuwel Aleem. Centeno did lose a fight to Maciej Sulecki in 2016, but Sulecki can fight, too, it wasn’t like he lost to a bum. Charlo is the favorite and deserves to be, but this might be a sneaky good matchup, and could be a real barnburner, too. Grade: B-
  • Gervonta Davis vs Jesus Cuellar: Davis (19-0, 18 KO) is right now caught between expectations of Future Mayweather and Future Broner, I think. Whatever else you can truthfully and rightly say about Mayweather, nobody ever questioned his dedication to his craft. Davis missing weight last August for a title defense against Francisco Fonseca was a bad step. Like Broner, he’s now with Kevin Cunningham, a no-nonsense trainer. Now, Davis has a chance to regain a title in the same weight class, thanks to another fighter (Jezreel Corrales) missing weight in October, and the fact that Davis has the right connections to get him into that spot without any trouble. Cuellar (28-2, 21 KO) is a pretty good fighter, but not special, and Davis has the potential to be special. If the young guy is focused and on point, I just can’t see Cuellar’s skill set beating Gervonta’s. This is also Cuellar’s move up to 130 after a loss to Abner Mares in December 2016, and he didn’t fight at all last year. Grade: C

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