Since its inception in July 2001, ShoBox: The New Generation has produced 54 world champions, an average of more than one every four telecasts. The critically acclaimed, prospect-orientated series is also a testing ground for undefeated fighters, who frequently are matched against their toughest foes to date. Friday on SHOWTIME® from Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, Calif., two more previously unbeaten fighters lost, bringing to 120 the number of boxers who suffered their first defeats on ShoBox.
Promising middleweight Hugo “The Boss” Centeno Jr. (21-0, 11 KOs), 23, of Oxnard, Calif., kept his “O” intact, having his way en route to a lopsided 10-round decision over late-substitute Gerardo Ibarra (14-1, 8 KOs), of Houston. Previously undefeated Eddie “E Boy” Gomez (16-1, 10 KOs), of Bronx, N.Y., wasn’t so fortunate, losing an upset 10-round decision to surging Francisco “Chia” Santana (20-3-1, 7 KOs), of Santa Barbara, Calif., who won his eighth consecutive fight in a crowd-pleasing co-feature.
Making his first start for new trainer Eric Brown, Centeno dominated, winning by the scores of 99-91 twice and 100-90. His uppercut in close range and jab from a distance were key to the triumph.
“It’s never easy,” Centeno said afterward. “He was a tough, durable guy who came to fight. He was a late replacement but I didn’t underestimate him. I take nothing from him.”
As for the future, Centeno wasn’t sure if he was staying at middleweight, or moving down to his more natural 154.
“I have to sit down with my camp and figure out what division works for us,” Centeno said. “I felt sharp at this weight. And I felt a lot sharper after just one month with Eric Brown. We’ll see how much better we’ll be after a few fights.”
Ibarra, who took the fight on a week’s notice, said he wasn’t mentally ready. “I just didn’t have enough time to prepare,” he said. “No excuses, the better man won tonight. He was just a little bit more ready than I was. I don’t regret taking the fight. It was a learning experience. You learn from your mistakes.”
Utilizing a 2 ½ inch advantage, the 5-9 ½ Santana, 27, was victorious in an excellent, fast-paced, two-way action welterweight fight by the scores of 98-92, 97-93 and 96-94. There were no knockdowns, but Santana dominated the last half of the fight. According to SHOSTATS, Santana outhrew Gomez, 683-460, even though he was less accurate.
“After the fifth round, I saw he was getting tired and I knew I had the bigger heart,” said Santana, who was certain the decision would go his way. “He’s talented, but I knew how to put my skills to use.
“A fighter knows when he won and lost. I knew I won. It was an amazing feeling when I heard Jimmy Lennon Jr. call my name. I knew I had the bigger heart and the bigger guts. I knew he would try to get me out of my comfort zone but I wouldn’t let him.
“I pulled the upset. On paper, he was supposed to win, but I knew what I came here to do. I’ve faced the tougher guys. I’m older and I know I don’t have much time. This is my time. I want to be the first Santa Barbara fighter to win a world title.
“To beat a great counter puncher you have to beat him with pressure. I gave smart pressure, not careless pressure.”
Offered Gomez, 21, after losing his ShoBox debut: “I thought I did enough to win. He was a tough guy and there were some close rounds, but I thought I did enough. I have to take this loss like a man. That’s life. It’s part of the sport. For sure I didn’t take him lightly. This was only the second time I’d ever fought 10 full rounds like that. It is back to the drawing board. I’ll learn from this and I’ll be back.”
World-ranked junior welterweight Mauricio Herrera, who’ll be challenging Interim WBA World Junior Welterweight world champion Johan Perez in one of four fights on “Honor & Glory: Canelo Alvarez vs. Erislandy Lara” on Saturday, July 12, on SHOWTIME PPV® from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, was interviewed between fights by SHOWTIME analyst Steve Farhood.
“I feel like I’m cursed on SHOWTIME, but I’m going to change all that,” said Herrera, who resides in nearby Riverside and will be fighting for the first time since a hard-luck 12-round majority decision loss to unified 140-pound champion Danny Garcia last March 15 in Puerto Rico. “Good things are going to come along. Everybody watch on July 12 because I’m coming out and I’m bringing the action.”