by Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Jermall Charlo didn’t need long to show why he was so heavily favored to beat Hugo Centeno Jr.
The hard-hitting middleweight contender unleashed a brutal three-punch combination that knocked out Centeno in the second round of their scheduled 12-round, 160-pound title fight Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. After an uneventful first round, Charlo hurt Centeno with an overhand right to the jaw, followed by another right to the side of his head and then a devastating left hook that left Centeno flat on his back.
Centeno couldn’t get up before referee Steve Willis reached the count of 10. The fight ended 55 seconds into the second round.
Houston’s Charlo (27-0, 21 KOs) won the WBC interim middleweight championship and became the mandatory challenger for that sanctioning organization’s true middleweight champion, Gennady Golovkin.
“It’s been an amazing journey to get here,” Charlo told Showtime’s Jim Gray in the ring. “I’m a two-time world champion. Bring on Triple-G! I want that fight!”
Kazakhstan’s Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs) is scheduled to fight junior middleweight contender Vanes Martirosyan (36-3-1, 21 KOs) on May 5 in Carson, California. If the heavily favored Golovkin gets past Martirosyan, the 27-year-old Charlo’s shot at his title is expected to be further delayed by Golovkin’s rematch with the suspended Canelo Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs).
“The networks and the teams can figure out how to get the Triple-G fight done,” Charlo said, referring to HBO, which televises Golovkin’s fights, and Showtime. “I have the best manager in the world [Al Haymon]. I’m 27-0, with 21 knockouts. Everybody sees it. What more can I say? … Everybody has always avoided me and from now on, this is how it’s gonna be. You see what you get.”
His impressive victory Saturday night was much more gratifying for Charlo than his previous win. He stopped Jorge Sebastian Heiland in the fourth round of their WBC elimination match July 29 at Barclays Center, but Heiland clearly came to the ring with an injured left leg.
Charlo was a huge favorite over even a healthy Heiland, but Heiland’s inability to keep his balance and offer any real resistance took away from Charlo’s win.
The 27-year-old Centeno (26-2, 14 KOs, 1 NC), of Oxnard, California, lost by knockout for the second time in four fights. Poland’s Maciej Sulecki (26-0, 10 KOs) stopped Centeno in the 10th round of their June 2016 bout in Chicago.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.