Hugo Centeno Jr. ready for ‘big stage’ vs. James De La Rosa
As a resident of Oxnard, Calif., unbeaten middleweight Hugo Centeno Jr. says he always carries a sense of accountability into the ring.
After all, Centeno is from the city which spawned former junior middleweight titleholder “Ferocious” Fernando Vargas and houses the boxing academy of renowned trainer Robert Garcia.
“There is definitely some sense of pride coming from Oxnard because I just want to make this community proud,” Centeno, 23. “Plus I come from a community where there is a lot of gang violence and the streets are tough. So I want to show everyone that out of this small community where so much crime is going on, that there are also some positive that can come from it.”
Centeno (21-0, 11 knockouts) will return to action on Dec. 6 against switch-hitting James De La Rosa (23-2, 13 KOs) in support of a 160-pound match-up between Gabriel Rosado and David Lemieux at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Showtime.
“I’m very excited about this opportunity,” said Centeno. “It’s on a big stage. This is a great match-up between me and James and I will get a real chance to show people my talents.”
In De La Rosa, 26, Centeno is facing a boxer who was last in action for September’s unanimous decision over Alfredo “Perro” Angulo, whom De La Rosa floored in the second round.
“We have almost the same amount of fights. He has a little more experience but I come into this fight with a lot of experience as well. As far as whether it’s a brawl or a tactical fight, I see it being a little bit of both,” said Centeno.
“At first, it’s going to be a little bit of a chess match but then once we start to get more comfortable, I think that we’re going to start letting that leather fly. I think that we have the potential to steal the show.”
Centeno is coming off consecutive wins over Angel Osuna by 10th-round knockout in December and Gerardo Ibarra by unanimous decision in his last fight in June. Centeno wouldn’t be surprised if the De La Rosa fight wound up resembling that with Osuna, who floored him in the seventh round before being dropped in the last.
“I always look at my task at hand as my toughest fight of my career and as if it’s always my toughest fight as a fighter. I am going into this fight as being tougher for me than any other fight, whether it is or whether it isn’t,” said Centeno.
“I’m going to be prepared as if it is because I feel as if I still have something to prove to others because a lot of people haven’t seen my talents or my previous fights. I want to prove to people that I’m here to stay and that I’m someone to be reckoned with.”
De La Rosa has gone 3-2 over the course of his past five bouts including a unanimous decision loss to Allen Conyers in January 2011. Conyers was later stopped in the sixth round by Centeno in December 2012.
“I fought Allen Conyers three or four fights after James did but I thought that James looked a lot better against Perro than he did against Allen Conyers. He seemed to have a better mindset coming into that fight. He looked better to me, just with his speed and his positioning,” said Centeno.
“He was able to stay in the pocket a little more against Perro. I think that comes with experience. I would say that he is very experienced and that he’s very crafty with the way that he’s constantly changing his stance. But that’s not going to be so much of a problem for me because I can switch up and I can do that as well. That shouldn’t be a problem for me because I also switch a lot.”
Centeno is shooting for the stars against De La Rosa, being inspired by, among others, his promoter Oscar De La Hoya, president of Golden Boy Promotions.
“I honestly haven’t had the chance to talk to him about it but he is one of the fighters that I grew up watching and he was a role model for me. He always does great things for his community and he always gives back,” said Centeno of De La Hoya, a Hall of Fame winner of 10 titles over his 16-year career.
“So that’s why, you know, during Christmas, I always try to have fundraisers for the less fortunate and I always go back to the high schools to do motivational speaking and things like that. I wanted to be somewhat the same as him but also to have my own persona and to be my own person that people could look up to.”