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Darkness on the Edge of Town: Centeno wrecks De La Rosa

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Does Hugo Centeno Jr have star quality? Saturday's win over James De La Rosa tells only part of the tale.

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Hugo Centeno Jr entered in baby blue, with a frame more suggestive of a hotel doorman than a one-punch knockout artist, but he was soon cocking his fist as he put the bustling James De La Rosa on his backside after a mere 90 seconds. Known as "The Boss", likely due to his given name but perhaps also owing to the Gordon Gekko-esque volume of product in his hair, he was firmly in command from the opening bell on an entertaining night of fights at The Barclay's Center in New York.

At over 6'1", Centeno Jr is a relatively unique specimen in the light middleweight division, with a body remarkable both for its length and the almost complete absence of any definable features. Prolonged yet vague, he seemed to confound De La Rosa from the opening bell, largely via the timing of his jab, which toppled the Texan in the very early stages and left him looking more than a little lost over the next four rounds. The coup de grace itself was delivered with the same hand, but only after Centeno Jr had switched southpaw in the fifth, having established his supremacy and settled into an overbearing groove. Although De La Rosa had shown an ability to get creative against a badly-faded Alfredo Angulo this past September, confounding the veteran slugger from both orthodox and switch-hitting stances, as well taking a good deal of punishment and remaining upright in the closing moments, it was he who found himself outfoxed, and ultimately outstretched, in Brooklyn.

When the knockout came it was a moment of acerbic punctuation, enough to stem any disquiet that had begun to drizzle inland from the audience as they watched the Oxnard native build up a commanding advantage. Back almost touching the ropes, he slipped outside the lead left hand of De La Rosa and delivered a near imperceptible shot, the type that provokes a delayed reaction not only in the crowd and audience at home, but in the referee and even the opponent himself. De La Rosa staggered momentarily after absorbing a short overhand left, as if he'd merely been caught off balance, before collapsing to the mat in a manner eerily reminiscent of the great Paul Williams back in 2010. Face first, and with a horribly enforced abandon.

His opponent having swan dived in a fashion that concerned referee Pete Santiago sufficiently to eschew the count altogether, Centeno Jr found himself with a memorable KO win to sign-off a year that has been at times agonizingly bereft. Yet despite the immediate echoes of Sergio Martinez, there was to be no Burger King crown. The victor was content instead with a sombrero, baby blue of course, and a million dollar smile. You'd scarcely have believed he'd been in a fight at all, given not a single hair was out of place. A lonely trickle of blood from his nose was all that gave it away, and even that had the appearance of a sartorial flourish.

After the evening's main event Centeno Jr found himself sandwiched between Andre Ward and newly crowned hall-of-famer Jim Lampley. Posing gracefully for the camera while wearing a tailored shirt and dinner jacket (yes, really) he looked every bit at home before the flashbulbs as he had between the ropes. It remains to be seen where he goes from here, but with the division growing in paucity as many of its top names edge northward, there's no doubt he can certainly be set in some entertaining fights. His manager, Joel De La Hoya, should know a thing or two about the management of good-looking Mexican Americans, and he may bring some sparkle to a weight class that has recently become somewhat of a no man's land between the record breaking purses on offer at welter, and the Kazakh minotaur laying waste to the 160 pound maze.