By Francisco Salazar
There are many scenarios Keandrae Leatherwood could look at tonight’s fight against unbeaten Hugo Centeno.
A victory over Centeno would avenge a loss to a fellow unbeaten junior middleweight. A victory would mean bigger fights and bigger purses, which would mean a lot financially to him and his two young sons.
A loss puts him further down on the totem poll, where he could end up fighting before smaller crowds or being relegated to being just another opponent.
He is convinced that there is no way he will lose; despite the fact he is facing the house fighter near the opponent’s backyard.
Leatherwood faces Centeno in a 10 round bout at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, CA. The bout will headline a “ShoBox: The New Generation” card, which is presented by Golden Boy Promotions.
The bout, along with the Braulio Santos-Kevin Hoskins bout, will be televised on Showtime.
Leatherwood (12-1-1, 8 KOs), who trains in Atlanta, GA, is coming off a six round unanimous decision over Marcos Primera on December 8th. He is unbeaten in his last four bouts since suffering his only defeat of his career at the hands of John Jackson in December of 2011.
Leatherwood took the fight when Daquan Arnett, who was originally scheduled to face Centeno, dropped out of the fight. He is hoping to cash in on what he calls “an opportunity of a lifetime.”
“I’m more focused than I have been for any of my fight,” Leatherwood told Boxingscene.com earlier this week over the phone. “I was in the gym preparing for a fight that fell through. I never left the gym and when I got the call, I took it.”
Aside from his fight against Jackson, Leatherwood is in the same bout with Centeno. He has not fought a notable fighter or fringe contender.
Although Leatherwood will have a size and reach disadvantage against Centeno, he believes Centeno is biting off more than he chew tonight.
“I don’t think this guy can do anything to me and I can’t see myself losing,” said Leatherwood, who has trained in the amateurs alongside Gary Russell, Jr. and Rau’shee Warren. “He has decent handspeed, but I’m faster than him. I think he’s fought subpar opposition and he’s frail. He hasn’t been in a real, big fight and I will expose him.”
Those are strong words that are coming from a fighter who has faced a total of four fighters with winning records in his career, including Jackson.
However, Leatherwood has dreams that he wants to fulfill in the boxing world. A victory would get him beyond prospect-status and could bring opportunities at decent paydays.
His loss to Jackson was a lesson about himself and that a fighter could be their own worst enemy on fight night.
“In my mind, Jackson didn’t beat me. I beat myself that night. I didn’t have my trainer by my side and I didn’t have anyone guide me that night.”
“The way I felt that night and immediately after, I do not want to go through that again. As far as I’m concerned, he (Centeno) is in my way of providing for me and my kids.”
The 24 year old Leatherwood feels rejuvenated and considers this bout against Centeno as an opportunity to avenge that loss, even though it was against Jackson.
Leatherwood has joined up again with trainer Pete Crumpley for this fight. Leatherwood hopes to enter and come out of the Southern California desert with a victory, despite entering into what he calls hostile territory. But then again, he would not want it any other way.
“I’m not going to let him dance around the ring. I’m going to move in for the kill. My game plan and mindset is to seek and destroy.”