Tonight's edition of ShoBox: The New Generation (10 pm EDT, Showtime) features a pair of legitimate and very interesting prospects from the Golden Boy Promotions stable, a quiet card flying a bit under the radar with tomorrow's Cotto-Martinez pay-per-view hogging the headlines, as well as the political upheaval over at Golden Boy in the front office, with Richard Schaefer resigning as CEO, and a murky future for everyone involved there.
But tonight on ShoBox, junior middleweights Hugo Centeno Jr and Eddie Gomez will look to make statements in the ring, where generally speaking, the nonsense that dogs boxing the majority of the time can melt away, at least for a little while.
Centeno (20-0, 11 KO) will face Gerardo Ibarra (14-0, 8 KO) in the main event, set for 10 rounds. Ibarra, a 23-year-old from Houston, Texas, is a short-notice replacement for Domonique Dolton, who suffered an injury in training camp. While that means this fight no longer has two hyped and familiar names in the prospect game, guys like Ibarra sometimes thrive when given an unexpected chance, and the 23-year-old Centeno is not taking him lightly, saying he's learned from past mistakes.
"This guy is definitely dangerous -- late replacements always are," Centeno said. "I've underestimated guys before because you might think they haven't had enough time to get ready for the fight, or you might not be ready for the type of style that they bring.
"But, for this training camp, I feel like we were training for every type of fighter. I had a lot of different sparring partners, such as Ruslan Provodnikov, Sergio Mora, Frankie Gomez and Glen Tapia. They are all different types of fighters and great caliber fighters. It was just great work.
"I know he's an aggressive boxer. He tries to be a little slick; he tries to bring the action and press forward. I feel like I'm prepared for what he has to bring to the table."
Ibarra says that this is the type of opportunity he's been waiting for, and that he, too, has good gym experience with known fighters."I was ready and training when we got the call for this fight. We moved from Houston to Los Angeles almost two months ago to get ready for an opportunity like this," said Ibarra. "I've been steadily training waiting for this chance. I came over to Los Angeles for an opportunity like this. I'm just ready to get in there and show what I can do.
"I wouldn't say he's my toughest test, but this is definitely my biggest opportunity. We'll find out in the ring if he's the biggest test yet."
He added, "I've been in the ring with a lot of different guys. I was in the ring with the Charlo brothers and Bryan Vera to help him get ready for the Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. fight. I feel ready; there is nothing I can't handle."
Centeno recently began working with Eric Brown, who trains out of Freddie Roach's Wild Card gym, after urging his father to retire from the training game.
"My dad had three heart surgeries and I told him it's just time to hang it up," he said. "Training me was really tough on his body and extremely stressful.
"We both chose Eric Brown together because we both thought he would go well with my style. He knows how to teach his fighter that killer instinct and he knows how to teach fighters to think for themselves. That's what we really liked about him and it's working really well."
In the co-feature, Gomez (16-0, 10 KO) of the Bronx will take on Francisco Santana (19-3-1, 9 KO) in another fight set for 10 rounds.
The 21-year-old Gomez has had a few problems outside the ring in his young career, but he's considered one of the most talented American prospects in the game today, and is a fighter Golden Boy has pushed as part of the future of their stable.
Santana is working on a winning streak, but Gomez was frankly dismissive of his opponent when asked about him this week.
"When I saw his record and the guys that he faced, I only saw two fighters that are like me, that are hungry and looking to be world champs: Jermell Charlo and Karim Mayfield," Gomez said. "And those are two young guys that he lost to. It just shows you that the guy is used to losing. Off the two losses to Karim and one to Charlo, it shows you that when he had to face a guy who was undefeated and young and hungry, he didn't know what to do.
"His seven-fight win streak doesn't impress me at all. He fought two guys, Freddy Hernandez, who is on his way out, he's done, and Joachim Alcine, who also is done. They're not in their prime anymore and they aren't hungry for the sport the way that I am. He beat them, yes, but they aren't impressive fighters to me."
Santana returned a bit of a trash talk volley, saying, "He doesn't have anything I haven't seen before. We're both two fighters with two hands and all it takes is one punch to win the fight."
Santana believes that Gomez is expecting to overpower him and walk out with an easy win, but says he's not going to make it that easy.
"Whether he is tested or untested, right now my will and my determination to keep climbing to the top is above and beyond," Santana said. "I think I'm in a good spot. Obviously he's a pretty young kid and I'm sure he's thinking he's just going to out-power me, but I'm going to prove him wrong tomorrow night."
Gomez said, "I don't feel like he's my toughest test. The toughest test for me is when I'm in the gym, when I'm putting in the work and I'm in there training. Even on days when I don't feel like going to the gym, I give it that extra push. Those are my toughest opponents. I wouldn't be here at 16-0 if I had opponents who were tougher than me and I didn't take care of them in the ring."
Added Santana, "On paper I don't have more power, but I know I can pack a punch. I've faced the bigger guys, junior middleweights and middleweights, so I know that I can end the fight with one punch."