Adrien Broner has a new opponent at a new weight for his April 21 fight.
Broner, who has won world titles in four weight classes, will face fellow former junior welterweight and welterweight titleholder Jessie Vargas in the main event of a Showtime-televised tripleheader (9 p.m. ET) that will take place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, the network announced Monday.
Broner (33-3, 24 KOs) and Vargas (28-2, 10 KOs) will meet at a catchweight of 144 pounds for the scheduled 12-round fight. Broner was initially scheduled to fight former lightweight world titleholder Omar Figueroa Jr. (27-0-1, 19 KOs) in a junior welterweight title elimination bout, but Figueroa withdrew a few days ago. The reason given for his withdrawal was a shoulder injury, not the fact that he faces a March 26 court appearance for a DUI charge in January.
Broner, 28, of Cincinnati, faces his own legal issues. He faces a misdemeanor sexual battery charge for an incident last month in which he is accused of groping a woman at an Atlanta shopping mall.
"I'm feeling really good, and I'm excited that this is an even bigger fight than Figueroa," Broner said. "I had to switch up some sparring partners, but everything is going great in camp. We're fighting at 144 pounds, so he'll have a slight weight advantage, but it won't matter. I'm going to be in great shape for this fight."
Broner is coming off a one-sided decision loss to lightweight world titlist Mikey Garcia, who moved up in weight for the fight last July. In the wake of the loss, Broner brought in a new head trainer in Kevin Cunningham to replace longtime trainer Mike Stafford, who remains an assistant. Cunningham is best known for guiding Cory Spinks to the undisputed welterweight world championship and Devon Alexander to world titles at junior welterweight and welterweight.
"Coach Kevin Cunningham is my head coach for this camp, but I did not fire Mike Stafford," Broner said. "I just added to my camp because I needed the help. I know what I have to do at the end of the day to get back on top, where I belong."
Vargas (28-2, 10 KOs), 28, of Las Vegas, got knocked down and lost his welterweight title by one-sided decision to Manny Pacquiao in November 2016. He later parted ways with longtime promoter Top Rank and signed with adviser Al Haymon. Vargas returned from a 13-month layoff in December and easily outpointed Aaron Herrera.
Most thought the victory would set the stage for Vargas to challenge unified welterweight world titleholder Keith Thurman on May 19, but the fight was not made. Although Thurman still doesn't have an opponent, Vargas will instead face Broner.
"This is a fight that should garner a lot of attention from boxing fans, and they deserve a fight like this," said Vargas, whose only other loss was by decision to Timothy Bradley Jr. in a 2015 interim welterweight title fight. "We are two entertaining fighters who come in and give it their all. This is a fight that will have a lot of fireworks. I respect Broner and his skills, but he's very beatable."
Vargas said it was an easy decision to take the bout.
"The fight was presented to me, and I didn't think twice about taking it. We as fighters and entertainers have to give the fans what they want. We had a fantastic fight on Saturday in Brooklyn," he said, referring to Deontay Wilder's heavyweight title defense against Luis Ortiz, "and we'll have another one in April. I will have my hand raised and let everyone know I'm still a danger to anyone I face."
The co-feature will pit Jermall Charlo against Hugo Centeno Jr. for a vacant interim middleweight title. The bout was originally scheduled for this past Saturday on the Wilder-Ortiz card but was postponed when Centeno suffered a rib injury.
Charlo (26-0, 20 KOs), 27, of Houston, is a former junior middleweight world titleholder who is moving up in weight to fight Centeno for the interim belt that will make the winner a mandatory challenger for the winner of the May 5 rematch between unified world champion Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez. Centeno (26-1, 14 KOs), 27, of Oxnard, California, is seeking his third win in a row since being stopped in the 10th round by undefeated Polish contender Maciej Sulecki in June 2016.
"Since my last fight I've had a chance to work on my patience and work on improvements to my game," Charlo said. "Before the injury to Centeno, I was having the best camp of my life. I've got the same feeling that I had before I won my first world title. I want to be a champion at 160 [pounds] more than I did the first time at 154. Centeno is a tough fighter. He'll be a hard test but he's someone who isn't at my level. I'm not taking anything away from him. But he's just another fighter that's in my way."
Said Centeno: "I was really devastated when we had to reschedule the fight, but I know I have to be 100 percent for this challenge. Charlo is a great fighter with a lot of talent. I feel like we have similar statures. It's going to be an interesting fight. I think it's going to come down to who is the smarter fighter that night and who has more left in the tank toward the end. This is a life-changing, career-changing fight for me that could lead to bigger and better things. I'm coming to win."
The opening bout will match former junior lightweight titlist Gervonta "Tank" Davis (19-0, 18 KOs), 23, of Baltimore, and former secondary featherweight titlist Jesus Cuellar, 31, of Argentina, for a vacant secondary junior lightweight world title.
Davis knocked out Jose Pedraza 14 months ago to win a world title and made one defense. But before his second defense, against Francisco Fonseca on the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor undercard in August, he was overweight and stripped of the 130-pound belt. Davis went on to knock out Fonseca in the eighth round and vowed to remain in the division.
"I'm the most exciting and skilled fighter on television and in 2018 I plan to show it," Davis said. "Jesus Cuellar is arguably my toughest opponent to date. He is rough and tough, but I'm looking forward to the challenge. I'm more than happy to be fighting at Barclays Center where I won my first world title. Brooklyn is very close to Baltimore, so all of my people will be there to witness me become a world champion again."
Cuellar is a career-long featherweight and has boxed only once since December 2015, when he lost a unanimous decision to Abner Mares in a featherweight title fight in December 2016.
"The time I've had off since the Mares fight has refreshed me for this new opportunity," Cuellar said. "It took a lot out of my body to make 126 pounds for all of those years. Now I feel fresher and hungrier than ever before. I've been offered fights against lesser opponents in the last year, but I've preferred to wait a little longer so that I can get a chance to fight the best.
"Gervonta Davis is one of the best in the world, so he's the one I want to face and beat. Davis has never faced a fighter like me and he will see me at my very best on April 21."