SHOBOX LINE-UP SET FOR THIS WEEK
Press Release: Junior middleweight Hugo"The Boss"Centeno Jr. (17-0, 9 KOs), of Oxnard, Calif., will make his ten-round debut when he meets KeAndrae "Lightning" Leatherwood (17-2, 10 KOs), of Tuscaloosa, Ala., in the main event this Friday, March 8th, on ShoBox: The New Generation, to air on Showtime from Fantasy Springs Casino Resort in Indio, Calif. In the co-feature, Puerto Rico's Braulio "Unstoppable" Santos (9-0, 8 KOs) faces Kevin Hoskins (7-1, 5 KOs), of Los Angeles, in an eight-round junior lightweight bout.
The 6-foot-1˝-inch, 22-year-old Centeno, a former amateur standout, will be making his ShoBox and 2013 debut. He has shown steady improvement since turning pro in March 2009 and has impressed not only fans and media but also two current world titleholders he's sparred with, WBA Welterweight titlist Paulie "Magic Man" Malignaggi and WBO Middleweight titlist Peter "Kid Chocolate" Quillin.
Said Malignaggi, who utilized Centeno as a sparring partner about a year and a half ago: "We worked on a few occasions and I actually thought a lot of the kid. He was intelligent with a good head on his shoulders, picked his shots well, possessed good focus in the ring, transitioned well from offense to defense and back and his balance was excellent.
"I'll be greatly surprised if he isn't a world champion someday, and I don't say that about a lot of guys."
"I was very fortunate to have him as a sparring partner," said Quillin, who's sparred upwards of 100 rounds with Centeno. "He's definitely got it. The ability is there. He does a lot of things well. He has good range on his punches and he knows how to put them together. He likes to turn it up and knows how to do it. He's been boxing a long time and has a lot of experience.
"He may not be a natural, but he makes it look easy. He did great with the kind of work I wanted in sparring and he always brought out the best in me. Some guys spar for a week and leave, but I always noticed something different about him.
If he stays focused and hungry, the sky's the limit."
The ambidextrous Centeno registered six consecutive knockouts at the outset of his career, then won six fights in a row by decision. In his last fight, he scored a seventh-round technical knockout win over Allen Conyers on the Amir Khan vs. Carlos Molina undercard on Dec. 15, 2012 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. Centeno scored a knockdown in the first and Conyers did not come out for the seventh.
After fighting twice in 2009 and three times in 2010, the lanky Centeno fought six times in both 2011 and 2012, but he will enter the ring Friday after having nearly three months of rest.
"Actually, I had my longest break for the holidays," he said. "I took off about two weeks, then got back in the gym. I started the New Year sparring with Peter Quillin, helping him get ready for his next fight, but the fight was postponed. Peter's hired me to help him for his last three fights because I can fight as a southpaw and stay as a southpaw and I move pretty well.''
Regarding his upcoming assignment, Centeno, who's never been dropped as a pro or amateur, says, "I'm always ready to face anything in the ring. I know how to fight as a southpaw, I know how to fight as a righty and I know how to fight on the inside, but the key is the jab because I'm such a lanky fighter.
"They say Leatherwood has quick hands, but my Dad watched a couple of tapes and said he's a little slower than most 154's. He fights more at 160 and 168. He'll fluctuate up and down. He waits a little and tries to get off a strong one-two. He waits for his chance to land that big overhand right, so as long as I box, I should be great, but I don't underestimate anyone. I train like I'm fighting for a world title. I'll be ready."
Centeno is trained by his father, Hugo Sr. In boxing, fathers working with their sons hasn't always been a ticket to success, but the Russell's (unbeaten featherweight Gary Jr. and Gary Sr.), and Garcia's (Danny and Angel) are making it work and, of course, Floyd Mayweather Jr. will be reunited with Floyd Sr. for his fight against Robert Guerrero, who is trained by his father, Ruben, on Saturday, May 4th.
"My Dad's a full-time coach," Hugo Jr. said. "He was an amateur boxer and always dreamed of going pro, but he got into a motorcycle accident. I used to watch fights on television with my dad and his brothers and I just loved it. My Dad taught me a little bit about it and I just loved the adrenaline rush that you'd get [from watching]. When I turned seven, I told him, 'Take me to the gym,' and he took me and I've never stopped since. I love it. He started coaching when he started coaching me and he stuck to it."
Leatherwood, a 5-foot-10-inch, 24-year-old who resides in Atlanta, is also making his ShoBox and 2013 debut. He went 3-0-1 in 2012 after suffering his lone defeat in his last fight of 2011, his first scheduled 10-round fight which he lost to the son of hard-hitting former World Champion Julian Jackson, John Jackson, via a sixth-round technical knockout. Leatherwood won his last start via a six-round decision over Marcos Primera last Dec. 8.
"I've seen a couple of videos on Centeno," Leatherwood said. "But I really don't know too much about the guy. I'm just looking at him as my next victim."
Santos was a member of the Puerto Rico National team for two years before turning pro in February 2011. An aggressive boxer with excellent punching power, the 5-foot-5˝-inch, 23-year-old has won his last three fights by knockout, including a first-round technical knockout win over Terrence Walker in his last fight on Feb. 23.
"My style in the ring is explosive, with bad intentions, because I'm waiting for the big punch," said Santos, who is fighting in the continental United States for the third time. "I go forward, waiting for my time."
Hoskins, like Santos, also fought two weeks ago, scoring a first-round knockout win over Eduardo Rivera on Feb. 21. A three-year pro, the 5-foot-5-inch, 22-year-old possesses good skills and movement and a solid punch. He is also one of 16 children, which might explain his fighting prowess.
"I have six sisters and two brothers on my mom's side, and I have six sisters and a brother on my dad's side," he said. "My dad's kids live in San Francisco. I'm the middle of my mom's kids, so most of us are out of the house. We grew up in the same house, though. My dad passed away when I was seven. I was raised by my grandmother and grandfather. I'm the only boxer in the family."