Broner Gets Edge vs. Vargas in Key Matchup for Both Boxers

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Andreas Hale

Tuesday, April 17, 2018 2:44 PM GMT

Tuesday, Apr. 17, 2018 2:44 PM GMT

Adrien Broner returns to the ring Saturday in a crossroads fight of sorts against Jessie Vargas, and Jermall Charlo looks to make his presence felt as a middleweight vs. Hugo Centeno Jr.

Boxing: Saturday's Card in New YorkFree Boxing Pick: Adrien Broner +105Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

Adrien Broner was initially slated to face Omar Figueroa Jr. However, an injury forced Figueroa out of the fight and he was replaced with former WBO welterweight champion Jessie Vargas. It makes for a very interesting fight between two boxers who need wins for different reasons.

Broner’s antics outside of the ring have been well documented. But while those antics have something to do with his in-ring performance, it’s not the entirety of it. Since moving up from lightweight, Broner has had decent — but not overwhelmingly great -- results. He’s 7-3 but his losses to Marcos Maidana, Shawn Porter and Mikey Garcia were pretty one-sided. He hasn’t defeated anyone of note and appears to be on his last life before being relegated to gatekeeper status. He desperately needs a win against Vargas to remain a top-tier competitor in a crowded division.

On the other side of the ring is Vargas, who didn’t quite take off until he nearly knocked out Timothy Bradley after being dominated for 11.5 rounds in 2015 and scored a shocking ninth- round TKO of Sadam Ali. That all came crashing down against Manny Pacquiao, who owned the fight from bell to bell. A victory over Aaron Herrera in his last fight didn’t exactly set the world on fire, but here he is standing across from Broner and needing a win in order to hold off boxing obscurity.

The problem with Broner has been his inability to transition seamlessly from offense to defense. He opts to remain flatfooted and pot-shot his opponents rather than use his athletic ability to be mobile and score points. He’s no longer a lightweight but still thinks one punch can end the fight. That’s not the case at 140 pounds and Vargas has proven to possess a sturdy chin. In Broner’s three losses he was overwhelmed by the aggressiveness of his opponents. Porter and Maidana plowed forward and refused to give Broner room to breathe, while Garcia was simply too effective as a counter puncher and also outpaced the plodding Broner. It’s a part of Broner’s game that he’s capable of improving, but only if he realizes that he’s constantly being outworked.

Vargas also has deficiencies in his game. Too often he waits for his opponent to throw and negates his height advantage. He has gotten away with doing little to nothing in fights and squeezing out decisions far too often without really pressing the action.

Nevertheless, Vargas has held steady as a slight favorite (-125) to Broner’s +105 on the boxing odds board. It’s a difficult fight to pick because Vargas doesn’t possess the activity to overwhelm Broner, and Broner doesn’t use his mobility and speed advantages to nullify Vargas. However, with Broner having so much to lose and Vargas being overvalued, Broner is the choice here with my boxing picks. If Vargas chooses to let Broner pot-shot him, the troubled 28-year-old will gladly do so. It usually takes a few rounds for Vargas to wake up and he won’t have that to spare. It won’t be terribly exciting but there will be spurts of action that will remind us why Broner was once considered the future of boxing.

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Charlo-Centeno: Too Risky to Pick

The co-main event finds the surging Jermall Charlo squaring off with Hugo Centeno Jr. for the vacant WBC interim middleweight title. Charlo has been very impressive over the past few years, showing drastic improvement in his power and a confidence he didn’t necessarily have several years ago. He has knocked out four of his last five opponents, with the most impressive being a highlight reel stoppage of Julian “J-Rock” Williams in 2016. This will be only his second fight as a middleweight but he has more than proven that he has the goods to compete at a high level. Centeno (26-1) has lost only once, to Maciej Sulecki by TKO in 2016. However, his resume doesn’t stack up against Charlo. The talent gap is also pretty significant, as evidenced by Centeno being a +1900 underdog to Charlo’s -3800.

As much as I’d like to tell you to take a shot with Centeno, he simply doesn’t possess the gifts to give Charlo a real challenge. He uses his height and reach well but Charlo will be too smart for his traps and will dominate the inside fighting. As tough as Centeno is, this is simply a fight you can’t bet on. Stay away.

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