The opening bell: A good draw
I hate draws. I don't know anyone who likes them. But sometimes they're legit and a fight really is even. Since there are no overtime rounds to break ties, that's what we're stuck with sometimes.
The Gennady Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez draw in September was terrible. Most (myself included) thought GGG definitely won a close fight. But in the case of the action-packed welterweight fight between former titleholders Adrien Broner and Jessie Vargas on Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, guess what? The majority draw was the perfect score. It was really that close, with Vargas kicking butt over the first half of the bout and Broner coming back strong to make his case over the second half, which the CompuBox stats illustrated in stark terms. Vargas had a 124-82 edge in punches landed over the first six rounds, and Broner outlanded Vargas 112-79 over the last six rounds.
Two judges had it 114-114 and one had it 115-113 for Broner. I had it 114-114, as did Showtime expert Steve Farhood. Most reporters at ringside also had it even, with a smattering of 115-113 scores for both guys. Nobody seemed too upset with the draw, including the fighters, who both claimed victory but didn't argue the draw too strenuously.
For the inconsistent Broner (33-3-1, 24 KOs), 28, of Cincinnati, it was at least an improvement on his poor performance in a clear decision loss to Mikey Garcia in July, and he credited new trainer Kevin Cunningham. For Vargas (28-2-1, 10 KOs), 28, of Las Vegas, it was also an improvement over the last time he fought a big name and lost a lopsided decision and his welterweight title to Manny Pacquiao in 2016.
The draw keeps both fighters in position for another meaningful fight against a big name in a deep division. However, it was such a good fight, drew such a strong crowd (13,964 when the arena had been set up for about 10,000, so they opened additional sections on the upper level) and was legitimately a draw, so they need to do a rematch.
KO of the weekend: Jermall Charlo
Charlo is a baaaaad man! Charlo (27-0, 21 KOs), 27, of Houston, scored a knockout of the year contender when he obliterated Hugo Centeno Jr. (26-2, 14 KOs), 27, of Oxnard, California, whom he left splattered on the mat like a pile of pancake batter after a vicious four-punch combination at 55 seconds of the second round on the Broner-Vargas card. It was only Charlo's second fight at middleweight, but considering how good he looked during his junior middleweight title reign and in two fights at 160 pounds, he's dangerous. There are many who would probably pick him to defeat GGG and Canelo.
The next step: The win netted Charlo a vacant interim title that makes him one of GGG's mandatory challengers, though that fight is a long way off given Golovkin's schedule. It's a fight Charlo called, but the more pressing issue for Charlo is who in the world is going to want to get in the ring with him? He's that good.
Performance of the weekend: Gervonta Davis
Yes, Davis was favored to beat smaller former secondary featherweight titlist Jesus Cuellar, but few figured he'd get him out there so easily. But Davis dismissed Cuellar (coming off a 16-month layoff and a loss) by third-round KO on the Broner-Vargas card to win a vacant junior lightweight title one fight after he was stripped for missing weight before a defense last August.
This time, Davis (20-0, 19 KOs), 23, of Baltimore, with new trainer Cunningham in his corner, came in excellent shape and blitzed Cuellar (28-3, 21 KOs), 31, of Argentina, mainly with a brutal body assault. He dropped Cuellar in the second and third rounds with body shots and finished him with a flurry of shots with 15 seconds left in the third.
The next step: Davis brought a good crowd to Barclays Center and should make his first defense in Baltimore, where he'll draw a big crowd. Davis wants to unify with the winner of the Tevin Farmer-Billy Dib vacant title fight in order to regain the belt he was stripped of. Floyd Mayweather, Davis' promoter, recently said he's talked to Top Rank about a fight with pound-for-pound king and junior lightweight titlist Vasiliy Lomachenko (who is moving up to lightweight), but there's no way that fight happens in the foreseeable future.
Welcome back of the weekend: Amir Khan
After two years idle following a harrowing sixth-round KO loss challenging then-middleweight champion Alvarez, Khan (32-4, 20 KOs), 31, of England, returned at a catch weight of 150 pounds (on his way down to welterweight) to score a quick knockout of Toronto's Phil Lo Greco (28-4, 15 KOs), 33, in Liverpool, England. It was a sizzling performance for Khan, who took out Lo Greco quicker than Errol Spence Jr. did in 2015 when he lasted into the third round. Khan -- fighting in the main event of the first boxing event to stream live on the new ESPN+ service -- dropped LoGreco with a clean right hand 15 seconds into the fight and then finished him with a powerful flurry to drop him again as referee Victor Loughlin waved it off.
The next step: Khan, still one of the welterweight division's biggest names, has many possible fights. Khan-Adrien Broner would be fun for sure. Khan wants to fight for a title, which means either Spence or unified titlist Keith Thurman or even the winner of the secondary title bout between Lucas Matthysse and Pacquiao, whom Khan has always wanted to fight. Any of those fights would draw an audience. But the biggest one, of course, is the all-British showdown with ex-welterweight titlist Kell Brook, who was ringside and had words with Khan in the ring after the fight. That one simply has to happen. It's a massive event in the United Kingdom, a really interesting fight and one that will generate plenty of cash for all involved.
Crossroads fight of the weekend: Frampton-Donaire
The result was not surprising as former two-division titlist Carl Frampton (25-1, 14 KOs), 31, gave his hometown fans in Belfast, Northern Ireland, a decision win -- 117-111 on all three scorecards -- over former four-division titlist and probable Hall of Famer Nonito Donaire (38-5, 24 KOs), 35, a Philippines native fighting out of Las Vegas, to claim a vacant interim featherweight belt made available because of the serious jaw injury to titleholder Oscar Valdez. Frampton, younger, quicker, sharper and fresher, outboxed fellow former fighter of the year Donaire, swelled his left eye with a right hand in the second round and then steered clear of Donaire's great left hook (except for when one hurt him in the 11th round) to win his second straight fight under trainer Jamie Moore. After 17 years as a pro, it might be time for Donaire to move on and wait for the Hall call.
The next step: Frampton will get a mandatory shot at Valdez when he's healthy, but what the win really did for him was set up for a summer fight at Windsor Park, the soccer stadium in Belfast where Frampton has dreamed of boxing.
Fights you might have missed
Saturday at Belfast, Northern Ireland
Bantamweight Zolani Tete (27-3, 21 KOs) W12 Omar Narvaez (48-3-2, 25 KOs), retains a bantamweight title, scores: 120-108 (three times).
On the Frampton-Donaire card, Tete, 30, of South Africa, retained his title for the second time and may have sent mandatory challenger and fellow southpaw Narvaez, 42, of Argentina, the aging former longtime flyweight and junior bantamweight titleholder, into retirement. The much bigger Tete won every round as Narvaez came to collect his check and survive, the same thing he did when he challenged Donaire for a bantamweight belt in 2011. Sweetening Tete's win: It came in the hometown of titlist Ryan Burnett (19-0, 9 KOs), whom he has been relentlessly calling out for a unification fight.
Saturday at Czestochowa, Poland
Heavyweight Tomasz Adamek (53-5, 31 KOs) TKO7 Joey Abell (34-10, 32 KOs).
Polish national hero Adamek, 41, a former heavyweight title challenger and cruiserweight and light heavyweight titleholder, won his third fight in a row since ending a second retirement last summer. He slugged it out with journeyman Abell, 36, of Coon Rapids, Minnesota, in a crowd-pleasing fight in which he dropped Abell with a counter right hand midway through the second round. He nearly dropped him again in the action-packed fifth round and dropped him again in the sixth round with a right to the gut. Adamek, way ahead on all three scorecards, finished him in the seventh when he dropped him twice more under a barrage of punches, forcing referee Daniel Van de Wiele to wave it off at 2 minutes, 33 seconds.
Saturday at Guadalajara, Mexico
Junior middleweight Ramon Alvarez (26-6-3, 16 KOs) W10 Jorge Paez Jr. (40-11-2, 24 KOs), scores: 100-90, 99-91, 97-93.
Alvarez, 31, of Mexico, Canelo's older brother, cruised to victory over countryman Paez, 30, the son of ex-featherweight titlist Jorge Paez Sr., who lost his second in a row and dropped to 2-6 in his last eight fights. Alvarez was the aggressor throughout the fight and had no serious issues dismantling Paez, who was in trouble in the 10th round but survived.
Junior bantamweight Jose Quirino (19-2-2, 9 KOs) TKO10 Hernan "Tyson" Marquez (43-9-2, 30 KOs).
Last April, Quirino, 29, of Mexico, and countryman Marquez, 29, a former flyweight titlist, battled to an eight-round draw. In the rematch, Quirino rolled to a one-sided victory as he punished Marquez. He cut him under the left eye, swelled his right eye and was declared the winner when the ref waved off the fight just as the 10th round was beginning.