By Keith Idec
The last time Hugo Centeno Jr. encountered an unbeaten opponent, Centeno knocked him out with one punch.
Centeno cracked Immanuwel Aleem with a counter left hook that knocked Aleem silly in the third round of their August 25 fight in Miami, Oklahoma. Aleem fell to the canvas like a chopped tree and couldn’t continue.
That spectacular sequence made Centeno’s victory a candidate for “Knockout of the Year.” That dramatic victory also moved Centeno into position to fight for the WBC’s interim middleweight title March 3.
His opponent that night, Jermall Charlo, isn’t impressed.
“I’m no Aleem and I’ll let you all see that whenever March 3rd get here, that I’m no Aleem,” Charlo said during a conference call Thursday. “It’s a whole other ball game and when you face a Charlo, you’ve gotta be ready for power yourself. So I hope they’re ready for it.”
Centeno’s lone loss was a 10th-round technical knockout defeat to Maciej Sulecki in June 2016.
Poland’s Sulecki (26-0, 10 KOs) drilled Centeno with a straight right hand that dropped him. Centeno got up, but didn’t protest when referee Mark Nelson determined he shouldn’t continue.
The 27-year-old Centeno (26-1, 14 KOs, 1 NC) also settled for a no-contest against Julian Williams in September 2013.
Centeno suffered a cut near his left eye, caused by an accidental clash of heads with Williams in the fourth round. A ringside physician stopped that fight because Centeno indicated he couldn’t see properly.
Philadelphia’s Williams (24-1-1, 15 KOs, 1 NC) was ahead by the same score, 30-27, on all three cards when that fight ended inconclusively.
“I don’t give a sh*t what he did,” said Charlo, who knocked out Williams in the fifth round of their December 2016 bout. “I don’t care if he improved, how many miles he ran. I don’t care what trainer he switched to, it don’t matter. Whenever I get in the ring, they’re gonna see what I’m really made of and what I really come to do.
“I’ve been working my ass off since they didn’t give me no credit for the Heiland fight. I’m the best 160-pounder out there. They’re not gonna give me the credit until I keep whopping they ass, and that’s what I’m here to do.”
The 27-year-old Charlo (26-0, 20 KOs) stopped short of predicting a knockout in a scheduled 12-round bout Showtime will televise from Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“If he’s able to [withstand] this power, this speed, this athleticism, the glory that God gave me, then yeah, he gonna make it the distance,” Charlo said. “If not, I’m gonna hurt him real bad – real bad.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.