Former four-division world title Broner vs Vargas holder Adrien Broner (33-3, 24 KOs) will look to get his boxing career back on the right track Saturday night when he takes on former world champion Jessie Vargas (26-2, 10 KOs) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
The non-title fight will be held at a catchweight of 144 pounds. This is Broner’s first fight since he was outclassed by Mikey Garcia in July 2017.
Once considered one of the most promising fighters in boxing, Broner has disappointed in recent years, having had multiple run-ins with the law, failing to make weight in a couple of bouts and suffering some key defeats.
Broner was originally set to face Omar Figueroa in this bout, but the latter pulled out due to a shoulder injury, per ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael (Figueroa was also facing a March court appearance for a DUI charge).
Vargas quickly stepped in to fill the void. He is looking to work his way back into contention just one bout removed from a welterweight title-fight loss to Manny Pacquiao in December 2016.
Broner-Vargas is one of three fights on Saturday night’s televised Showtime card. Jermall Charlo will take on Hugo Centeno Jr. for the interim WBC world middleweight title, while Jesus Cuellar and Gervonta Davis battle it out for the 130-pound WBA super world belt.
Here’s what you need to know to catch the action.
Broner vs. Vargas Fight Info
When: Saturday, April 21 at 9 p.m. ET
Where: Barclays Center in Brooklyn
Live Stream: ShowtimeAnytime.com
The 28-year-old Broner has his work cut out for him if he’s going to make it back into the boxing limelight. He’s coming into the bout as a slight underdog at plus-105 (bet $100 to win $105), per OddsShark.com, which is a rather unusual position for him to be in.
His three losses have come against elite competition—Garcia, Shawn Porter and Marcos Maidana—but the people he has defeated in between are uninspiring. He also lost his title on the scales for failing to make weight against Ashley Theophane, and in February, he was arrested on a misdemeanor sexual battery charge.
Suffice to say, most of Broner’s problems have been self-created, but he keeps getting chances. That’s because he won titles in four divisions by the time he was 26, and he can really put on a show when he puts it all together in the ring.
Broner is working with a new trainer in Kevin Cunningham, who BoxingScene.com’s Keith Idec called a “no-nonsense disciplinarian.” That would seem to be exactly the kind of thing Broner needs, a fresh face who won’t be afraid to tell him what to do. Broner’s talented and powerful and eminently capable of contending for a title again, so long as he remains focused.
A loss to Vargas would be devastating for the Cincinnati native. Vargas is a step or two below the fighters Broner has already lost to in his career; a defeat would signal to many that Broner is incapable of having a resurgence.
Vargas is likely going to see Broner’s notoriety as a big opportunity for him. He can use a win here to springboard himself back into the contender conversation.
The 28-year-old “Pride of Las Vegas” has only lost twice in his career (Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley Jr.). His recent TKO-win over Sadam Ali looks more impressive in hindsight, as Ali went on to upset the great Miguel Cotto in December.
While Broner was once touted as the heir apparent to Floyd Mayweather Jr., Vargas himself has learned plenty from Money. Per Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole, Vargas trained with Mayweather for years and paid keen attention to how the undefeated boxing star approached his sport.
One of the things [I learned from Floyd] would be the mental fortitude and learning how to always stay positive,” Vargas said, per Iole. “Knowing exactly what you’re doing and how to play the mental game, as well. I’ve learned that from seeing him in sparring. Plus, his work ethic. His work ethic has been impeccable. I’ve never seen someone train so hard.”
A win would definitely make Vargas a more attractive option for the top names in the crowded welterweight division. According to Iole, Vargas wants to take on undefeated Keith Thurman if he can get past Broner on Saturday.
Broner needs a win here to keep his career from spiraling out of control. The stakes are incredibly high, as a loss would likely relegate him to gatekeeper status for up-and-coming welterweights and junior welterweights.