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Austin Trout Hits the Road (Again)

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On Saturday night from the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, one of the year’s most anticipated events takes place between junior middleweight beltholders Austin Trout and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. Between 35,000-to-40,000 fans are expected to be in the building but it wasn’t all that long ago when Trout was headlining on a much smaller stage. Back in November of 2011, Trout made his Showtime debut against the forgettable Frank LoPorto at Cohen Stadium in El Paso, Texas in front of a rather sparse gathering.
 
“My first ‘ShoBox’ card and that was huge,” recalled Trout, who scored a sixth round stoppage in his first title defense.
 
To say he’s come a long way since then is an understatement. Just two bouts later, he found himself opposite Miguel Cotto at his familiar haunt of Madison Square Garden in New York, where the Puerto Rican icon had become one of the sport’s biggest draws. Now, Trout goes back into the belly of the beast facing the popular Mexican in San Antonio.

“It’s been a rapid climb; it definitely has,” said Trout, taking it all in. “I have to give all the credit to God and give the grace to Al Haymon. God put Al in my career and he’s been making these things happen so I really appreciate what he’s done for my career.” Hey, nobody can ever accuse the slick southpaw from Las Cruces, New Mexico of being ungrateful. And there’s no denying the influential Haymon gets things done - but it was up to Trout to get in there and win key fights to get to this plateau, such as turning the tide early on versus Cotto in front of all his partisans, then closing the show.
 
Trout wasn’t naïve; he knew the card was stacked against him. It was Cotto who was in line to face “Canelo,” not him. As the rounds mounted, he thought to himself, ‘Am I doing enough?’ “Yes, I did, every round. I was thinking, ‘I don’t know if that was enough.’ Not that I felt that like I lost it but was it enough to a crooked mind? I tried to really close the show and seal the deal during the fight and that’s how I’m going to fight the next fight. I’m not going to take any rounds off or anything like that. We’re going to try to win every round decisively and if we have an opportunity where he’s hurt and take him out, we’ll go for the gusto,” said Trout, who defeated Cotto by the scores of 117-111 (twice) and 119-109.
 
There may have been thousands of Puerto Ricans at the Garden on the night of December 1st but “No Doubt” only had to face one inside the squared circle. The same theory applies this weekend in San Antonio.
 
“Exactly,” said Trout, who believes that as soon as the first punch is thrown, it’s just another night at the office. “The one thing that they try to play on the Cotto fight and they somewhat try to play it for this fight is that the crowd is going to be against me. How is he going to handle the crowd being against him? It really doesn’t matter to me. The crowd can’t really do nothing for him or me. It’s just me, him and the refs.”
 
As Trout took complete control of the Cotto fight, the crowd was silent. Eerily so, in fact.

“It was funny; the first few rounds, they would scream for anything. If Cotto sneezed my way, they were going, ‘Wow! Wow!’ and as the fight progressed on and like I said before, I just did not give them something to cheer for and that’s exactly what happened. They stopped making any noise and even when he caught me, it was more like, ‘OK, OK; do it again please.’ But I could definitely feel the deflation of the crowd,” recalled Trout. He makes it clear; experiences such as this have prepared him to go into the lion’s den once again. “Definitely. I think the whole path I’ve taken in my career, I don’t want to say is easy but it has made me ready for these experiences.”
 
This fight has conjured up memories of another fight held at the Alamodome, featuring a popular Mexican pugilist and a southpaw stylist. Back in September of 1993, Julio Cesar Chavez took on Pernell Whitaker in front of over 63,000 rabid fans. This comparison isn’t lost on Trout, who admitted, “We actually watched that fight to see the things Pernell did right and some of the things he did wrong. It’s very similar with the stakes and everything like that. That’s why one of my things was ‘Remember the Alamo’ - and not Davy Crocket - but with Chavez and Pernell.”
 
And if you recall, a large majority of observers and pundits believed “Sweet Pea” did more than enough to topple “J.C. Superstar” but instead had to settle for a disputed draw. And in this instance, the same suspects are involved (Texas and the WBC) and Trout realizes it’s Alvarez who has the home canvas advantage here. He states, “We’ve thought about it; it’s definitely crossed our minds. We know Texas is a WBC state but we’re going to worry about the things we can control and that’s what we’re going to do in the ring. After we do what we do, if the judges want to ‘rob’ us or steal the decision from us if it goes that far, that’s between them and God. I can’t really focus on the things I can’t control.”
 
Alvarez probably could have fought a myriad of other foes and drawn well in San Antonio. Trout represents the classic, high-risk/low reward proposition often passed over in this sport. Truth be told, he was even surprised he got this assignment.”Yes, I was. I read all the boxing sites - Maxboxing included - and after the fight, you heard what they kept trying to say. They wanted to fight Cotto still. They wanted to bring in [Alfredo] Angulo. They said all these name except for mine. [Golden Boy Promotions CEO] Richard Schaefer said all these names except for mine. But I really felt it was the fans, the uproar, they said, ‘Canelo’-Trout should be mad,’ and I think the pressure really got to “Canelo” and he put his foot down like a man and made the people who work for him do what he wants.
 
“So they really tried to make the fight not really happen. And I know the power of Al as well. He’s very influential in the game. With the public and ‘Canelo’ putting his foot down, I think those components made this fight happen.”
 
As the fight was consummated, he got the call from God, err…Haymon.
 
"Al gave me the call. He called me and told me, ‘Look, we got ‘Canelo.’”
 
And with that, Trout was a two-time lottery winner. The guy who shouldn’t be getting these types of opportunities is getting Cotto and Alvarez in successive fights. “Definitely, definitely; like you say, I’m very lucky. But it’s more I’m blessed. I’m a really blessed man,” Trout says with gratitude.
 
This guy sure has come a long way from being a sparring partner for Antonio Margarito (as he was prepping for Paul Williams and later, Manny Pacquiao) just a few years ago.
 
“That seems like forever; it definitely does,” he says. “I feel like these types of fights should’ve happened years ago but it’s not on my time; it’s definitely on God’s time. He must’ve felt like I wasn’t ready and I can respect that and just know to be patient and just keep plucking away at your craft and you will be awarded.”
 
JUDGING
 
There’s no secret that Texas is very much a WBC territory (their boxing czar “Tricky” Dick Cole is very tight and cozy with Jose Sulaiman) and the agreement for Alvarez-Trout is that with Alvarez holding a WBC belt and Trout having a WBA strap, of the four officials involved in this fight (one referee and three judges), two will come from the WBC and two from the WBA.
 
I’m told this situation hasn’t been fully resolved as of Sunday afternoon. But things looked a lot more promising in this regard than they did on Friday.
 
Seriously, can boxing ever get out of its own way and just do the right thing?
 
RIGO
 
Here are a few thoughts from this weekend’s bout between Guillermo Rigondeaux and Nonito Donaire, won by the Cuban at Radio City Music Hall (by the scores of 114-113, 115-112 and 116-111) in a fight where Rigondeaux’s superlative boxing skills simply neutralized the “Filipino Flash” for much of the night...
 
-  I felt it was interesting that during its broadcast of this event, HBO didn’t once mention the reason fans were getting this match-up was because the “Cold War” between Top Rank and Golden Boy (now divided up along network alliances) kept a fight between Donaire and Abner Mares from becoming a reality. Jim Lampley laments that Showtime doesn’t give them a few clips of their bouts (which is petty, indeed) but it could be viewed as equally dubious a boxer who’s been featured extensively on Showtime - and was in involved in a very public back-and-forthing with Donaire and his handlers a few months back - wasn’t even given a mere mention on the broadcast.
 
And now because of the current climate of the business and the result of this fight, HBO and Top Rank have the difficult task of marketing and promoting a 12-0 fighter who doesn’t have much - if any - of a discernible fan base.
 
-  I like Max Kellerman but I’m wondering when he says that Rigondeaux and Donaire are the best small fighters he has ever seen, if he had ever laid his eyes on Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson and Ricardo Lopez?
 
-  I know most of the ringside media had it much closer but from my couchside view, I had Rigondeaux up by the score of 116-111. Many may not like his style but he is very good at executing it. And while he moved around the ring a pretty good amount in the second half of the fight, early on, he stayed in the pocket and simply beat Donaire to the punch. In this fight, you could see he was a tad quicker than Donaire and was able to sting him with some blazing lefts that made him hesitant to just come through the front door.
 
-  Donaire is a very talented fighter but he does have some technical flaws. One of them is he doesn’t have a real consistent, solid jab and isn’t adept at setting up his own offense. Versus a supreme counterpuncher like Rigondeaux, he had to play the role of aggressor and you could see that just wasn’t in his comfort zone. Last year in winning “Fighter of the Year,” Top Rank matched him adroitly. In Rigondeaux, he was put in position to decipher one of the toughest puzzles to solve in all of boxing.
 
-   I found it interesting that some writers like my colleagues, Kevin Iole and Dan Rafael, derided Rigondeaux’s performance as boring and not fan-friendly. Honestly, I don’t disagree. His style is not for the masses. No argument there. But it’s funny, why is Rigondeaux derided for his style and yet others who dot those fantasy pound-for-pound lists not given such harsh treatment for boxing their way to victory? Namely a guy like Andre Ward, who has no problems admitting that he isn’t taking any unnecessary risks inside the ring and that his whole goal is to win the fight. Or a Bernard Hopkins who will never be in any “fight of the years” and fights a very defensive style, certainly their prerogative, but it’s also Rigondeaux’s right to box to his strengths also.
 
But for some reason Rigondeaux isn’t afforded such a narrative that allows him to box in a way that isn’t necessarily entertaining.
 
HI-LARR-ITY
 
On Sunday morning I spoke to Larry Merchant, who, let’s just say wasn’t a big fan of the fight and what he saw from Rigondeaux on Saturday night. Here’s some of the things he told me:
 
“Rigondeaux is an excellent boxer and a lousy prizefighter.”
 
“He makes Mayweather look like Marciano.”
 
“The fight was like opening a bottle of wine and finding it was grape juice.”
 
“[Rigondeaux] should be invited back to Radio City Music Hall only to join the Rockettes.”
 
Oh, yeah, I miss ol’ Lar on HBO broadcasts...
 
FIGHT WEEK
 
So for those of you in San Antonio or planning to head down there for Alvarez-Trout, here’s what is being planned for the public by Golden Boy in the upcoming week:
 
Wednesday, April 17
11:00 a.m., FIGHTER MEDIA WORKOUTS - OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!
Location: The Alamo
300 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, TX 74577
 
11:00 a.m. - Abner Cotto
11:30 a.m. - Jermall Charlo
12:00 p.m. - Raul Martinez
12:30 p.m. - Austin Trout
1:00 p.m. - Omar Figueroa Jr.
1:30 p.m. – “Canelo” Alvarez
 
Friday, April 19
2:00 p.m., OFFICIAL WEIGH IN - OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!
Location: Market Square
500 West Commerce Street; San Antonio, TX 78207
(Intersection of Commerce Street and San Saba Street)
 
Saturday, April 20
3:30 p.m. Alamodome Doors Open
Address: 100 Montana Street; San Antonio, TX 78205
4:30 p.m. First Fight Begins
7:00 p.m. SHOWTIME EXTREME Telecast Begins
9:00 p.m. SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING Telecast Begins
 
Should be a fun week in San Antonio...
 
FINAL FLURRIES
 
On May 25th, HBO will have a day/night doubleheader, which will see them air the Carl Froch-Mikkel Kessler rematch from the O2 Arena in London at 6:30 p.m. (ET) and then at 10 p.m., a re-airing of that fight and the fight between Jean Pascal and Lucian Bute from the Bell Centre in Montreal....Baha “Fresh” Mamadjonov put a halt to the Angelo Santana bandwagon on “ShoBox”; didn’t he?...Juan Diaz stopped Pipino Cuevas Jr. in his return to the ring in Corpus Christi, TX...No matter what you think of him, Lakers basketball isn’t the same without Kobe Bean Bryant...Based on the spring game, I expect Stephen Morris and the ‘Canes offense to have a big year, especially the great Randy “Duke” Johnson. The question is their defense...Can’t wait to get into San Antonio on Wednesday; should be a fun week…I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.


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