Frank Franklin III / Assocaited Press
Saturday, April 21, 2018 | 9:01 p.m.
NEW YORK — Adrien Broner and Jessie Vargas fought to a 12-round majority draw in a welterweight fight Saturday night at the Barclays Center.
Judge Julie Lederman scored the fight 115-113 for Broner, and Eric Marlinski and Kevin Morgan had it 114-114.
After the ruling was announced, Broner (33-3-1) and Vargas (28-2-1) exchanged words in the ring in front of Showtime ringside reporter Jim Gray.
Following the first round in which the fighters appeared to be feeling each other out, the Las Vegan Vargas was the aggressor in the early rounds and landed more punches (203-194) and threw more punches (839-507). Still neither fighter knocked the other down, although Broner slipped to the canvas late in the fifth round. Broner did open a cut over Vargas' left eye.
Starting in the sixth, Broner began pressuring Vargas, landing heavy blows.
The two ended the ninth and 10th rounds by exchanging heavy punches, and they finished the fight swinging wildly at each other.
So now, the question becomes where do Broner and Vargas go from here?
During Thursday's final press conference, both Broner and Stephen Espinoza, Showtime's president of sports and event programming, stressed the significance of the fight for the 28-year old from Cincinnati's future career trajectory.
Broner had switched trainers from Mike Stafford to Kevin Cunningham after the unanimous decision loss to Mikey Garcia on July 29, 2017. Prior to the switch, Broner had won three out of his last five fights, and seven of 10 overall. Along with loss to Garcia, Broner had dropped unanimous decision losses to Marcos Maidana on Dec. 14, 2013, for the then-vacant World Boxing Association's International Super Lightweight Title, and a welterweight fight to Shawn Porter on June 20, 2015.
Even though Vargas entered the fight having won three out of his last five, and eight of his last 10 bouts, Broner noted the Las Vegas native had lost to Tim Bradley Jr. and Manny Pacquiao.
The Broner-Vargas bout headlined the 14-fight card, which drew 13,964.
In the semi-main event, Jermall Charlo became the WBC interim Middleweight champion by knocking out Hugo Centeno Jr. (26-2-0) 55 seconds into the second round. Charlo called out Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin improving to 27-0-0 with 21 knockouts.
"I want that fight," Charlo said. "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 27-0 with 21 knockouts. Everybody sees it. What more can I say?
Gervonta Davis won the WBA Super Featherweight title with a knockout of Jesus Cuellar at 2:45 of the third round in the main card's opening fight. Davis improved to 20-0-0 with 19 knockouts, while Cuellar dropped to 28-3-0 with 21 knockouts.
"My team put me back in this position and I'm thankful for it. I'm humble and focused going forward," said Davis, who trained with Cunningham and Broner. "I'm on the road to greatness. Great things are coming for me.
The undercard was capped with Rau'shee Warren's (16-2) unanimous decision win over Juan Medina, and Heather Hardy won her return to boxing with unanimous decision over Paoloa Torres (10-3-1). Hardy, a Brooklynite, has a 2-1-0 record with the Bellator mixed martial arts promotion. "I was happy with my performance," Hardy said. "If something in the ring presents itself, first, I'll stick with boxing. Otherwise I'll look to Bellator to see what's going on for June or July. I plan on having a really active 2018."
Desmond Jarmon and Shyngyskhan Tazhibay each earned four round unanimous decisions over Kendrick Latchman and Isaac Freeman, respectively. Brooklyn's Richardson Hitchins authored the night's first eye-popping moment with a first round knockout of Alexander Charneco in a Super Lightweight fight, which was followed shortly thereafter by Gary Russell's second round technical knockout of Andrew Rodgers and Fabian Maidana's third round technical knockout of Justin Savi. Dylan Price earned a unanimous decision over Edson Noria, and in the opener, George Arias took a unanimous decision win over Tyrell Wright.