By James Slater – An amateur standout, 21-year-old Hugo Centeno Junior is a gifted 154-pound hot prospect of whom big things are expected. Managed by Joel De La Hoya no less, the 14-0(8) hope from Oxnard takes a step up on July 28th, when he faces Ayi Bruce on the Robert Guerrero-Selcuk Aydin card in San Jose.
Currently training at The Wild Card in Los Angeles, Centeno, who is trained by his father (who was a talented amateur boxer) is a modest, easygoing guy who says he is working as hard as he is so he can make his family both proud and comfortable..
Kindly taking the time to speak with ESB yesterday evening, “The Boss” had the following things to say:
James Slater: Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with Eastsideboxing, Hugo!
Hugo Centeno Junior: Not at all, I’ve just finished sparring.
J.S: Oh, who with?
H.C: I’m actually working at The Wild Card, in L.A – I was sparring with Michael Medina.
J.S: And how much do you know about your July 28th opponent, Ayi Bruce (22-7 with 14 KOs)?
H.C: Not too much actually. I know he’s a tough guy, who comes to fight. I saw his last fight, with Ishe Smith. That one didn’t go his way, but he’s a pretty smart fighter, he’s strong.
J.S: As you know, this will be your fourth fight this year already, and you had six wins last year. Do you like staying active, fighting every couple of months or so?
H.C: Yeah, I like to stay consistent; especially now while I’m young. It’s a lot harder when you get older, having long training camps.
J.S: And the fight with Bruce, which will be on the Guerrero-Aydin card, will your fight be televised on Showtime?
H.C: Yeah, on Showtime Extreme.
J.S: Is Bruce a step up for you?
H.C: Yeah, this is the toughest fight of my career, but I’ve had my hardest camp so far and I’ve prepared for the fight.
J.S: For those fans who have not yet seen you fight, how would you describe your style in the ring?
H.C: I’m a tall, lanky fighter, I’m a technician, an aggressive technician. I like to fight on the inside and on the outside. I like to switch to southpaw. But every fighter is different and I have to do different things in each and every fight.
J.S: You are very tall for a 154-pounder at 6’1” with a 78” reach, which is a very big advantage for you – do you plan on moving up in weight one day?
H.C: Well, I just moved up to 154 recently, from welterweight. I think I’ll stay here for a while but I will eventually move up to 160. But yes, my height and reach are big advantages for me; they make it easier for me to outbox an opponent.
J.S: It’s a great division, light-middleweight, with a lot of big names there. Who would your dream fight be against at 154, when you’re ready for a title?
H.C: Hmmn (pause) I really don’t know. I just want to fight the best, and whoever it is that’s the best when I get there, that’s who I’ll fight.
J.S: Speaking from a timeframe perspective – when do you think you’ll be ready for the top-10 guys?
H.C: I’d say in a year I’ll be stepping it up. I need the experience, but I have picked up a lot of experience in the gym, with the guys I’ve sparred.
J.S: Who else have you sparred with, Hugo?
H.C: Peter Quillin, Alfredo Angulo, a lot of quality, experienced guys. They’ve taught me a lot.
J.S You’re managed by Joel De La Hoya: is that added pressure, being looked after by such a big name of the sport? Big things are expected of you.
H.C: No, not at all. It’s great that he’s behind me. He teaches me a lot – he has all that big fight experience and he knows what to do; how to get up there to the top level.
J.S: How did you get the nickname, “The Boss?”
H.C: My first manager, he saw me sparring and he said ‘Oh, man you bossed him!’ After that, people just started calling me The Boss and it just stuck.
J.S: And so far you have been the boss, at amateur and pro level! You had around 90 amateur fights?
H.C: Yeah, I was 90-9 as an amateur. It took a little time to drop the bad habits of the amateurs, but I think I’ve made the transition [to pro level] well.
J.S: And you’re trained by your dad? I read how your family are a big, big inspiration for you; how you want to do well to make them proud?
H.C: My family, yes, they are my backbone. They’ve always supported me – we’ve been through some tough times – and they’ve always been there for me. I want to succeed to give them good times. That motivates me and makes me work harder.
(thanks to Rachel Charles for making this interview possible)