NEW YORK (AP) — Adrien Broner and Jessie Vargas spent 12 rounds trading punches. A few moments later, they exchanged angry words and opposite views of what transpired.
The one thing the two fighters agreed upon? A rematch should be in the offing.
"We can do it again. I'm ready to fight right now," Vargas said after he and Broner fought to a 12-round majority draw in a welterweight fight Saturday night at the Barclays Center. "We can run it back."
Judge Julie Lederman scored the fight 115-113 for Broner, and Eric Marlinski and Kevin Morgan had it 114-114.
According to the scorecards, Lederman and Marlinski had Broner winning 105-104 heading into the 12th round, while Morgan had Vargas ahead, 105-05. Lederman and Morgan scored the 12th for Broner, 10-9, while Marlinski had Vargas winning the round, 10-9.
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.
"It was a good fight but at the end of the day, I can't dispute the decision," Vargas said. "I felt like I won the fight and I was up two rounds. I'm relying on the judges to make the right decision."
Following the first round in which the fighters appeared to be feeling each other out, 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.
"The cut," Vargas said, "bothered me."
Starting in the sixth, Broner began pressuring Vargas, landing heavy blows.
"I beat him," Broner said. "Point blank, period."
The two ended the ninth and 10th rounds by exchanging heavy punches, and they finished the fight swinging wildly at each other.
"I was connecting with my right hands," Broner said. "I got warmed up in the early portion of the fight before taking over."
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.
"My trainer was a big help," Broner said. "I want to thank coach Cunningham as well as my original coach, Mike Stafford, for realizing I had to do something different."
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."