On Saturday, April 21 from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY and live on Showtime, Jermall “Hitman” Charlo (26-0, 20 Kos), the former 154 pound IBF champion, takes on the aspiring Hugo “The Boss” Centeno Jr. (26-1, 14 KOS) for the WBC’s interim Middleweight title.
This Premier Boxing Champions event is headlined by a showdown between former four-division world champion Adrien Broner (33-3, 24 KOs) and former two-division world champion Jessie Vargas (28-2, 10 KOs) along with former world champions Gervonta Davis (19-0, 18 KOs) and Jesus Cuellar (2-2, 21 KOs) battling for the WBA 130-pound Super Featherweight world championship.
The Middleweight division is one of the most exciting division’s in all of boxing as it is stacked from top to bottom with numerous stars all with exciting styles. But what really makes the Middleweight division so electrifying is the vast amount of contenders that are on the brink of becoming champions themselves.
Charlo and Centeno Jr. are both looking to make themselves a true force at 160 pounds by obtaining the WBC Middleweight crown. Charlo has previously been one of the most feared fighters at 154 pounds, but says that regardless of his clout and reputation he is not taking Centeno Jr. lightly.
“I’m not overlooking anybody in my division, once you step in front of me, it’s a fight,” said Charlo during the pre-fight press conference on April 19.
Centeno Jr.’s first loss occurred last year in an eight-round stoppage against Maciej Selecki, who is not nearly the caliber fighter that Charlo is. Centeno since returned with a vengeance and knocked out his last two opponents.
Centeno Jr. has more fights than Charlo, yet in comparison he is very green still, not having fought the level of opposition that Charlo has.
“I’ve fought on some big stages in my career, but nothing compares to this,” said Centeno. “This is my first title shot and I’m going to take full advantage. I’m not worried about Charlo or being the underdog or anything really. I know I have what it takes to win this fight.”
Centeno, though green, is still very dangerous as he has punching power in both hands and throws awkward looping punches. Centeno is tall, standing a solid 6’1″, he will be hard for Charlo bully.
The fight should be exciting as both fighters truly enjoy engaging and both seem eager for a knockout to solidify themselves as elite 160-pound fighters.
“I’m not Immanuwel Aleem and I’ll let you all see that when April 21 gets here,” said Charlo. “It’s a whole different ball game when you get in there trying to trade with me. You better have power, so I hope he’s ready for it.”
Centeno Jr. should have his hands full with the power-and-punch output of Charlo. The Hitman is a perfectly suited nickname for Charlo as he is a relentless assassin when he enters the ring.
“I’m still improving as a fighter,” said Charlo. “I’ve gotten faster, sharper and I’m able to take more punches than I used to. I’ve been working hard to increase my punch output as well. Nobody can do what I’m doing in the ring.”
Charlo has fought on the biggest stages at 154-pounds, and has his eyes set on accomplishing even greater feats at his new weight class, such as a potential showdown with 160-pound superstar, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin or Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
“Hugo is in the way of my process right now,” said Charlo. “I’ve got to go through him to get to my goal. We’ll see if he’s able to hold up against the power, speed and athleticism that I have. If not, I’m going to hurt him, real bad.”
Saturday night Centeno Jr. and Charlo will face off in hopes of catapulting their careers to the next level, but only one man will step out of the ring victorious. Who will it be?
Photo by Amanda Westcott/Showtime