Mike Sloan – Austin Trout is one hell of a fighter, there’s no denying that. He’s tall and lanky and he has terrific defense. Trout also possess a keen sense of awareness inside the ring and his handspeed doesn’t hurt, either. To top it all off, the Las Cruces, New Mexico native can stand and trade blows in a virtual phone booth, something only a few “safety first” boxers are willing to do.
In a sense, Trout has all the tools to become one of boxing’s brightest stars and one of the best in the world on a pound-for-pound level. He’s in a weight class filled with stellar opposition but there is one problem: nobody knows who Austin Trout is.
His unanimous decision win over the popular Miguel Cotto was eye-opening not because he just happened to beat a future Hall of Famer but because he did it emphatically. Granted, Trout didn’t overwhelm and dominate Cotto the way Adalaide Byrd’s unfathomable scorecard suggested. He also didn’t score some sort of highlight reel knockout or even a late rounds stoppage. In fact, the Puerto Rican star was very competitive in the bout and at times had Trout confused. Also, Cotto forced the fight and took Trout out of his defensive comfort zone throughout the contest.
The element of the duel that was impressive was how Trout dealt with the relentless pressure and guile of Cotto. Trout kept his chin down and plugged away. He countered with the right hand beautifully and when he had the chance, he raked his foe with brilliant uppercuts on the inside. Still, Trout was not fighting the sort of fight he’s accustomed to and still won the fight on all three official scorecards.
Many boxing experts were skeptical of Trout and his ability coming into the contest. The fight with Cotto was easily the biggest event of his professional career and he had the MadisonSquareGarden overflowing with Puerto Rican fans cheering and hoping for his figurative slaughter. Still, Trout was undaunted and won the bout.
Today, Trout is still known almost exclusively to hardcore boxing fans. He has not yet crossed over into even a modicum of the mainstream sports fan, arguably the sole reason he walked to the ring and introduced before Cotto, even though he was the “champion” of the bout.
People have been claiming loud and clear for years that boxing is dead in the States and they have a point, to a degree. However, the casual fans tend to only want a real killer at heavyweight to come along unless someone like a prime Oscar de la Hoya, Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather materialize out of thin air. Little do they know that the sport of boxing is rife with many exciting and supremely gifted fighters in virtually every weight class and always has.
Guys like “Canelo” Alvarez lead the charge of the new school of boxing royalty, but there are many other young lions all over the world ready to carry the torch after both Pacquiao and Mayweather exit stage left. Adrien Broner, Robert Guerrero, Brandon Rios, Gary Russell, Jr., Andre Ward and Nonito Donaire all could very easily be superstars in their own right and so can Austin Trout.
His win over Cotto was the biggest thus far in his still-blossoming career, but it’s up to his handlers to get him in front of as many cameras as possible and to keep him relevant by putting him in with credible opponents who push him to his limits. If he’s as good as anticipated, he’ll be able to pass said tests and become a bona fide star in the sport.
The world of boxing, though vast in terms of scope and the sheer number of professional fighters, is actually a small pond compared to the global ocean of soccer/futbol, the NFL/NBA/MLB in the States and auto racing. Lest one forget about the constantly-growing UFC and boxing has more competitors than ever before, therefore making the Sweet Science a pool of water with only a few sharks devouring everyone else.
Austin Trout is one of a number of young, extremely gifted fighters who could help carry the sport to the next level, which in all actuality is the previous level of 25 years ago. He’s got the goods; his unanimous nod over the great Miguel Cotto is simply one example of that. However, if he is to become a bigger fish in what will hopefully morph back into an ocean (or at least a sea) of sports entertainment, it’s up to everybody involved to push him and his gifted contemporaries through the threshold.
Trout was an unknown commodity entering his contest with Cotto, so much so that it was virtually assured that Cotto would win and fight “Canelo” in May. Trout made sure that didn’t happen, which is not what the short-sighted boxing gods wanted. If his handlers do their job as good as Trout does his inside the ring, then there’s no reason to think he and his aforementioned contemporaries won’t eventually be a part of the various “Fight of the Millennium” events for years to come.
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