Undefeated middleweight prospect Hugo Centeno Jr., faces unbeaten, late-replacement Gerardo Ibarra this Friday, June 6, in the ShoBox: The New Generation (10 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME®) main event, but he’s already received the stamp of approval from stablemates Peter Quillin and Paulie Malignaggi.
“He’s very confident and talented as a contender,” said the undefeated Quillin, the WBO Middleweight World Champion. “He has that mentality to become a champ and he comes and brings it every time I spar with him. He’s the type of guy where I have to be worried that one day that he can fight for my belt.”
Centeno (20-0, 11 KOs), like Quillin and Malignaggi, is trained by Eric Brown at Wild Card Gym in Los Angeles. He sparred with Quillin prior to his bout with Winky Wright, his first world title fight against Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam and prior to the Fernando Guerrero bout.
“He helped me when a lot of guys didn’t want to spar with me and helped give me the work that I needed to become a champ,” Quillin said. “He gave me great work. He’s a very talent prospect and, more than that, he has the whole “Hugo Boss” persona going for him. You don’t see many guys at that level like that. He’s building his name and putting himself out there.”
Malignaggi, a SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING analyst with a keen and experienced eye for the sweet science, agrees. He has worked with Centeno in the gym and has first-hand knowledge of the prospect’s skill set.
“He’s a solid prospect with a mature attitude and a good work ethic,” Malignaggi said. “He’s
a good fundamental boxer. It will be interesting to see his development as he faces tougher competition.”
Centeno, of Oxnard, Calif., is currently sparring with WBO Light Welterweight Champion Ruslan Provodnikov. Centeno has the tough task of facing a late-replacement in his return to ShoBox this Friday. His original opponent, Domonique Dolton, suffered a hand injury in training and was forced to withdraw from the 10-round bout.
Dolton was replaced by Ibarra (14-0, 8 KOs), an opponent with an identical record and one that Centeno will have little more than one week to prepare for.
“I think the last minute replacements are the most dangerous,” Quillin said. “You don’t know much about them and they can throw you off your game. You train for one guy during your entire training camp and then you have a completely different fighter in there with you. It’s extremely dangerous.”
In the ShoBox co-feature, New York City phenom Eddie “E Boy” Gomez (16-0, 10 KOs) faces Francisco Santana (19-3-1, 7 KOs) of Santa Barbara, Calif., in a 10-round junior middleweight match.