By Marc Livitz: On Saturday, March 3, New York City will be set alight with championship boxing taking place at separate venues, one less than six miles apart from the other. Madison Square Garden will host the middleweight title bout between Sergey Kovalev and Igor Mikhalkin, while the Barclays Center in Brooklyn will be the venue for the WBC world heavyweight title clash between champion Deontay Wilder and Luis Ortiz. Sharing the card in Brooklyn with the hopes of equaling, if not upstaging the night’s main event is former junior middleweight champion Jermall Charlo.
The Houston, Texas native held the IBF title in the division for four contests from September 2015 through December 2016 before making the jump to 160 pounds. Last summer, Charlo (26-0, 20 KO’s) made his debut contest in the middleweight class a victorious one by way of a fourth round TKO win over Jorge Sebastian Heiland at the same venue where he’ll find Hugo Centeno, Jr. (26-1, 14 KO’s) awaiting him a week from Saturday. Centeno, a middleweight contender from Oxnard, California is coming off a win over previously unbeaten Immanuel Aleem last August in a fight which produced one of the better knockouts of 2017.
The journey for “Hitman” Charlo has been a competitive one, with names such as Austin Trout and Julian Williams among his victories. While boxing recently said goodbye to the two brothers who dominated the heavyweight ranks for many years in the form of Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko, Charlo is looking to set a new precedent. His twin brother, Jermell is the current WBC world super welterweight champion and while the two have never fought against one another professionally and have admitted they never will, boxing could be in for a new treat indeed if they manage to hold their own while just six pounds apart.
The match between Jermall “Hitman” Charlo and Hugo “The Boss” Centeno, Jr. is presented by Premier Boxing Champions and will be part of a televised triple header on the Showtime network in the United States. The telecast on Saturday, March 3 begins at 9PM ET/PT.
Never at a loss for words, Charlo and Lou DiBella, President of DiBella Entertainment, fielded questions from the media on Thursday afternoon as part of a brief international conference call.
Quotes listed below
Opening Statements, Lou DiBella: “The entire card is loaded for this Showtime triple header. The co-featured bout has one fo the rising stars in the middleweight division, Jermall “Hitman” Charlo, who is rated number on by the WBC. This is a great matchup for the interim WBC Middleweight title, which I’m not the biggest fan off, but it’s been frozen for a while because of Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin doing their dancing together. This gives these guys a chance to show their talents.
Jermall Charlo’s immediate goal: “I want to show the world that my twin brother (Jermell) reigns at 154 (pounds) and I’ll do the same at 160. Hugo is just one step in the process.”
On Centeno’s knockout of Immanuel Aleem: “I’m not Aleem. You’ll see that on March 3rd. When you face a Charlo, you have to be ready for power yourself.”
On waiting to fight for a middleweight title: “It’s been a good ride. This is probably the happiest I’ve ever been having to wait on something. The pressure’s on me and I just have to do my job. A win on March 3rd will hopefully catch the eyes of the “Canelo” and “GGG” fans. Hopefully, everyone will see what I’m really made of. I don’t care what they do in their rematch. Hopefully, they get a chance to settle everything and I’ll be waiting.”
Criticism of him fighting hurt opponents: “It bothered me. You see the pattern? Austin Trout was hurt, too. Every fight was supposed to be a bigger test. I fought this guy and I didn’t get a chance to show what I could do. This one will be different.”
His outlook: “You look forward. That’s what I do because that’s what the world does. I look forward to the big fights. Hugo’s in the way and I have to make that a fact. He’s another fighter. I don’t care what anyone says about me. Nobody cares what I think.”
On facing Centeno, Jr.: “I don’t care how ready he is or how many miles he’s run. I’m the best 160 pound fighter out there. I am better, smarter and faster than before. I’m ready to fight the best out there and looking to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.”
On criticism from Abel Sanchez, trainer of Gennady Golovkin: “He can’t say a thing about me. He doesn’t know how hard I train and what I do. Nobody works as hard as me. I feel way better at 160 pounds and I’m doing this the right way.”