Francisco 'The Wizard' Palacios - Boxing Bio
By Media report on Doghouse Boxing (Jan 27, 2009)  
Undefeated Cruiserweight Contender
Born on May, 25, 1977 in Bronx, N.Y., now living in Bayamon, Puerto Rico
Height: 6’ 2” – Weight: Cruiserweight (198)
Record: 16-0, 9 KOs

Francisco Palacios was born in the Bronx, New York, but the bragging rights end there because he moved to Bayamon, Puerto Rico, when he was 3.

“New York doesn’t exist for me because I moved before I was able to remember it,” Palacios said. “The island of Puerto Rico is where I grew up and all that I know. I’ve only been back to New York five times.”

Palacios grew up tough in Bayamon.

“It was rough,” Palacios said knowingly. “I grew up in the projects. That’s where my fighting came from.”

He grew up in a large family with an older brother and a sister from his mom’s side as well as two brothers and three sisters from his dad’s side.

The most influential person to Francisco was his older brother Anthony Centeno.

“He was like a father to me,” Francisco said of Anthony, eight years his senior. “He always looked out after me and taught me many things.”

Always adept at sports, Palacios earned a basketball scholarship to North Carolina Central University. A point guard, Palacios was a natural leader whose career was cut short by an ankle injury after two years.

“I moved to Miami after my injury,” Palacios said. “I enrolled at Florida International University to earn my degree and to try to find a spot on their basketball team.”

Fate intervened when he joined a gym to trim off some weight he had gained after his injury.

“I saw guys boxing and was immediately interested in it. One guy started trash talking to me about getting into the ring. I told him to give me two weeks to get in shape. Fourteen days later I went into the ring and messed that guy up.”

Just eight months later, in December of 2000, he entered a Police Athletic League tournament in South Florida. Amazingly, he won the tournament.

“I knocked out everybody,” Palacios said.

He graduated to the P.A.L. National Tournament where, incredibly, he made it all the way to the finals again.

“I was beating this guy 32 to 10 in the championship match but he head-butted me in the fourth round so I body-slammed him.

Disqualification aside, Palacios had taken to the sport like a duck to water. A converted southpaw, Palacios fights right-handed.

In 2001, he became the South Florida heavyweight champion, won the Florida Golden Gloves, and was a semi-finalist at the U.S. Championships.

In 2002, he earned a scholarship to train under Al Mitchell at the United States Olympic Education Center at Northern Michigan University in Marquette. (“I loved everything but the cold weather,” Palacios said.)

He competed in many country duel tournaments, U.S. Challenge tournaments and multi-nation tournaments. His leadership skills were in evidence as he was often named team captain.

He dreamed of competing in the 2004 Olympics, but after 70 amateur fights “it wasn’t in the cards,” Palacios said.

After a meteoric four-year amateur apprenticeship, Palacios turned professional. His mentor and brother Anthony, now selling fire sprinkler systems, supported him and attended a few of his early fights before tragedy struck.

“A few days before my birthday in 2004, I visited my brother at his house in Orlando,” Palacios remembers. “Everything seemed fine with him. He was opening a new landscaping business the following week.”

Days later, Anthony was found shot dead in an apparent suicide.

“To this day, I don’t really know what happened. I saw no signs that he was considering taking his own life. He wasn’t that kind of guy. The police ruled it a suicide so that’s what we have to go by.”

Soon after the funeral, Palacios pledged to win a world title and help raise his brother’s five children. It remains his mission to this day.

“Everything changed for me after that. I need to win a title for the memory of my brother. When that comes, I will be able to help his children, which is what I know he would want.”

After reeling off 11 wins, Palacios’ apparent day of reckoning came against former top contender Louis “The Lion” Azille on Aug. 8, 2007, at the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, Fla.

A 10-to-1 underdog, Palacios entered the ring against an opponent with the best record he had ever faced: 19-3-2 with 15 knockouts.

“I took the fight on just five days’ notice. I used my boxing skills, which I’m always confident about. I spar a lot. I’ve been in the ring with Shannon Briggs, David Haye, O’Neil Bell, Jean-Marc Mormeck, Eliseo Castillo, Daniel Santos and others. I fear no man. That’s what my brother taught me.”

Palacios not only defeated Azille, but he won by technical knockout in round six.

“I didn’t expect to stop him but when I saw him begin to tire in the later rounds, I just took him out.”

Palacios then came to the attention of legendary boxing promoter Don King, who signed him to a promotional agreement in August 2007.

In his last appearance, he received an unexpected challenge of his own from journeyman Zack Page at Scottrade Center in St. Louis on March 27. A head-butt in round two caused a gash on Palacios’ forehead that poured blood. The ringside doctor was close to stopping the fight.

“I told the doctor not to worry. Thirty seconds later I knocked Page down. I give Page credit, though. He’s a tough guy.”

After eight rounds, Palacios won a unanimous decision by scores of 78-73 and 79-72, twice.

Palacios was to have fought for his first continental title against North American Boxing Organization cruiserweight champion Ola Afolabi (12-1-3, 5 KOs), from London, England, on June 13, 2008, but Afolabi suffered an eye injury less than two weeks before the fight that scuttled those plans.

“Winning a title is something I have been dreaming of my whole life and this was supposed to be just the beginning for me,” Palacios said. “I was ready to die in the ring to win that fight.”

Palacios marched on without Afolabi, scoring a third-round knockout over replacement Harvey Jolly on June 13 and KO’d Luis Andres Pineda in two rounds on Sept. 18.

Palacios remains close to his mother, who he says, “has always been there for me through thick and thin.”

He currently trains in Orlando, where he has enrolled with the Body Tech Fitness Association to earn a certificate in personal training. Being fluent in Spanish and English, Palacios will have a business edge if he ever pursues this line of work.

When not boxing, he still enjoys playing basketball, spending time with his friends and dating.

Like many boxers, his favorite movie is Scar Face.

He’s not picky with food, equally enjoying American and Puerto Rican cuisine. “As long as I know what’s in it, it’s all good to me.”

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