The Boss: Hugo Centeno Ready To Kick Off “The One” Weekend With a Victory Over Julian Williams


One of the biggest boxing events in recent history is about to take place (pun intended) when Floyd “Money” Mayweather squares off against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez on September 14th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. But before the PPV extravaganza, there will be a smaller card, also at the MGM Grand, to help jumpstart the weekend’s festivities. It’s typical for a promotion to host an event the week of a major PPV, but the card scheduled for September 12th, televised live on FOX Sports 1, is better than any I can remember in recent years.

Besides the tremendous main event — a rematch between welterweights Shawn Porter and Julio Diaz — there are also a handful of young prospects on the card. Two of those prospects will be squaring off against one another when undefeated junior middleweight Hugo Centeno Jr. meets Julian Williams, also undefeated.

The card has a lot of depth and this bout is a direct contributor; both fighters have been in the ring with valid opposition although Williams has faced the better competition, while Centeno has a bit more experience. Centeno feels like he is in the right fight at the right time and he is confident that his experience will translate into a victory.

“I feel like it’s the right time for this big step up, if I want to call myself the best then I have to fight the best and fighting Julian Williams [at this point] is the right move to accomplish that in my career,” Centeno said.

Centeno last competed in July and although he made quick work of his opponent Isaac Mendez (KO1) he took very little time off before getting right back into the gym, which Centeno says “has made the last few months feel like one long camp.”

Centeno is not a fighter who enjoys long layoffs; in fact he has fought a total of 12 fights between 2011 and 2012. But he has been uncharacteristically inactive in 2013 with only 2 fights under his belt, making the fight with Williams his 3rd on the year. Needless to say, the quick turnaround between fights is exactly how Centeno enjoys handling things.

“I really like the transition and I’m ready for these types of fights, I’m a fighter that likes to stay consistently active. I feel like this has been a slow year for me, my goal for this year is 4 fights and after this one I’m still going to try to get in another one before 2013 is over, depending on how this goes.

“If I’m not busy I feel like I’m not doing something right. My starvation is so high and I’m so hungry for the things I want out of my career that I feel like I need to stay active,” Centeno said.

Centeno’s maturity is refreshing and those kinds of sentiments are exactly what you want to hear from a young fighter. It’s the wisdom he possesses that has helped him to hold his own as a sparring partner with the likes of “Canelo” Alvarez, Alfredo Angulo, and “Kid Chocolate,” just to name a few. He has the reputation for being a workhorse in the gym and a valued sparring partner for some of the sports’ greatest fighters during some of their most important camps leading into their biggest fights.

“To be able to go toe to toe with the quality fighters I’ve sparred with, if not doing a little better than most would expect to do, helps my confidence go through the roof. I’m going into this fight with a lot of confidence because I know I can hang with the best by sticking to my game plan,” Centeno said.

Centeno was supposed to spar with Miguel Cotto in preparation of his fight with Williams while simultaneously helping Cotto prepare for his October date with Delvin Rodriguez, but it never materialized. Instead, Centeno got in some invaluable work with Wale “Lucky Boy” Omotoso who doesn’t have the same allure as a Miguel Cotto, but is much more appropriate when considering Centeno’s fight preparations is for Williams.  

While Centeno is not signed by Golden Boy per say he is managed by Joel De La Hoya (Oscar’s brother) and being on the “kickoff card” is no happy accident. Centeno is a talent and can be matched well with the Golden Boy stable of fighters at 154 or even 160 in the future.

He knows how many fight fans will be in Vegas for the Mayweather-Canelo fight and he plans on taking advantage of the situation. Without any unnecessary pressure, Centeno plans on doing his part to kick off the weekend.

“It’s an honor for me to be surrounded by the great talent that will be fighting that week. It’s not too much pressure to kick things off, but most definitely I’m going to go in there and handle business. I know it’ll be a great crowd and I’m going to show them a good show to help get them ready for the big show that Saturday,” Centeno said.