By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Jermall Charlo isn’t overly impressed by Hugo Centeno Jr.’s spectacular knockout of Immanuwel Aleem in Centeno’s last fight.
The feeling is mutual regarding Charlo’s most recent victory. Centeno can’t understand why it took Charlo so long to stop Jorge Sebastian Heiland, who was already bothered by a leg injury when the Argentinean contender entered the ring for their July 29 fight at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“With the talent that Jermall has,” Centeno told BoxingScene.com, “I would’ve thought he would’ve finished the fight a lot faster, especially with his opponent being hurt.”
Centeno is confident he’ll give Charlo a much tougher fight Saturday night when they square off for the WBC’s interim middleweight title at Barclays Center.
Houston’s Charlo (26-0, 20 KOs) is listed by several Internet sports books as a whopping 50-1 favorite over Centeno (26-1, 14 KOs, 1 NC). Unlike Heiland, however, Centeno will come to the ring completely healthy.
“You could definitely tell [Heiland] wasn’t completely there,” said Centeno, whose rib injury caused this fight to be postponed from March 3 until Saturday night. “It was a pretty bad injury and I was surprised the commission didn’t touch on it. It must’ve been to collect a check. I wouldn’t see another reason.”
The injury to his left leg hobbled Heiland almost immediately in what was scheduled to a be a 12-round WBC middleweight elimination match. Charlo knocked him down once apiece in the second and fourth rounds.
Referee Benjy Esteves decided Heiland shouldn’t continue because he couldn’t maintain his balance as Charlo clobbered him following the second knockdown.
There were points during that farcical fight when Heiland (29-5-2, 16 KOs) couldn’t even stand up straight. Though not at all Charlo’s fault, Heiland’s injury took away from the undefeated contender’s win in his middleweight debut.
Heiland hid his injury from the New York State Athletic Commission and everyone else involved in the promotion during the buildup toward their fight.
He came to the ring with a lot of tape around his left knee, which his corner men indicated was from an injury suffered during training. NYSAC officials made them remove the tape before the fight started.
Even healthy, Heiland was a huge underdog against the hard-hitting Charlo.
“[Heiland] seemed to show up to the fight injured,” Centeno said. “He was really just there to collect a paycheck. A lot of people are saying, ‘Oh, well Jermall is the uncrowned king at 160.’ And it’s kind of hard to crown him at 160 because he just got there. I mean, he was a great fighter at 154. But he really hasn’t fought anybody at 160 yet.”
Showtime will televise Centeno-Charlo as the second of a three-bout broadcast set to begin at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.
Adrien Broner (33-3, 24 KOs, 1 NC), a former four-division champion from Cincinnati, and Las Vegas’ Jessie Vargas (28-2, 10 KOs), an ex-WBO welterweight champ, will meet in the 12-round, 144-pound main event. The show will open with a 12-rounder between Baltimore’s Gervonta Davis (19-0, 18 KOs) and Argentina’s Jesus Cuellar (28-2, 21 KOs) for a vacant version of the WBA’s super featherweight title.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.