Photos: Will Hart
By Hamilton Nolan
With his snug trunks, sharply parted and well-greased haircut, and thin-verging-on-bony physique, Hugo Centeno Jr. (22-0, 12 KOs) has the appearance of clean cut actor playing a boxer in a 1955 movie. He fights well, though. He is constantly prancing, and jabbing up and down, always active, and when he stands in profile he nearly vanishes, making him hard to hit. James de la Rosa (23-3) is a far more conventional fighter, with his feet planted mostly on the floor, elbows flared, looking for a chance to land a right hand. De la Rosa defeated Alfredo Angulo in September--but Angulo, after many wars, is just a wisp of what he once was, making that an unsure measure of de la Rosa’s true talent.
Notwithstanding a weird first round knockdown from a Centeno jab, the fight seemed to be becoming increasingly predictable over the first four rounds: Centeno dancing and jabbing, but not appearing to hurt de la Rosa, and de la Rosa drawing closer and closer each round, landing a bit more, appearing to be creeping up on the point when Centeno’s fatigue would slow him down enough to be caught and pounded. And then, in the fifth round, just when astute boxing observers (ahem) were thinking to themselves, “Well, Centeno just does not seem to have any power,” it was over in an instant. De la Rosa jabbed, and Centeno rolled under it, and threw up a straight(ish) left hand that landed right on de la Rosa’s jaw, and he fell more or less face first, and did not even move until the count of ten. Centeno--who is not a southpaw, and who did not appear to have much power, knocked out his opponent cold, with a southpaw shot. And not a single hair was out of place. Boxing is never as predictable as you think.