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Azad Championship Report: There’s no Doubt; Trout Routs Cotto

Azad Championship Report
Azad Championship Report

By Jason Gonzalez at ringside


Manhattan, New York - He did it! He shocked the world. Love it or hate it, the underdog is on top. Austin Trout defeated Puerto Rican icon Miguel Cotto and defended his legitimacy in the division by retaining his WBA  junior middleweight crown. Trout’s victory came by way of unanimous decision in a front of a raucous and hostile crowd of 13,096 at Madison Square Garden in Saturday night’s main event.
 
“Miguel Cotto is a great champion,” said Trout. “He’s a great fighter and it was an honor to be in the same ring as him. It’s even more of an honor to be the man to beat him. To have my hand raised against a kingpin like Miguel Cotto is a dream come true.”
 
Whether or not the fight was closer than the judges’ scorecards of 119-109 and 117-111 (twice) is irrelevant. What matters is that the right individual was awarded the victory and this is history repeating itself all over again. Trout, 154, of Las Cruces, New Mexico improved to 26-0 (14) by handing Cotto his first loss at the “Mecca of Boxing.” Entering fight night, Cotto sported a seven-fight win streak at MSG, as well as bringing with him plenty of championship experience. Cotto has been on the big stage plenty of times; for Trout, this was his first. That said, do the names Ronald “Winky” Wright and Vernon Forrest ring a bell? Wright and Forrest may just be two of the better fighters of their era but you would never know it because they weren’t as heralded as some of their more popular classmates like Oscar De la Hoya, Shane Mosley, Felix Trinidad and Floyd Mayweather Jr. Let’s be honest; who really gave Forrest a shot against Mosley the first time around? And by the same token, didn’t you think Trinidad would knock out Wright? De la Hoya and Mayweather never fought Wright so surely, that must stand for something. With Trout defeating Cotto, he now put himself in the “Wright/Forrest” category. He got the opportunity and maximized on it…so don’t expect many takers knocking on Trout’s door in the immediate future.

Trout-Cotto was a good fight. It showcased a little bit of everything. Trout exhibited terrific ring intelligence while Cotto, as always, showed toughness, grit and courage. The back-and-forth shifts in action left most of those in attendance standing while chanting “Cotto” at the top of their lungs. The southpaw Trout established his jab early in the fight while avoiding a good portion of Cotto’s barrage. The smaller Cotto, (both in height and weight) 153.6, started to rally in the middle rounds. The 32-year-old Cotto cut off the ring and was able to get on the inside of Trout and work the body. Unfortunately for Cotto, his punches lacked the steam to slow down his younger foe. Trout then came back strong, sweeping the championship rounds. Something else worth mentioning: As the fight progressed, Cotto’s left eye swelled up, preventing him from seeing Trout’s counter right hook over the top.
 
“It was around the third or fourth round when I saw his eye starting to swell,” said the 27-year-old Trout. “I am going to say it was the fourth round. I said ‘Wow, it’s closing up bad and he can’t see. I am going to attack it now.”
 
Cotto, now 37-4 (30), seemingly had a Cinco De Mayo date with WBC champion Saul “El Canelo” Alvarez (who was in attendance) set in stone. All Cotto had to do was win; Instead, Trout played spoiler.
 
“Those shots that Cotto hit me with were strong and I knew he’d be strong but it reconfirmed that [I could] take those shots,” said Trout. “It was definitely the hardest fight of my career and when you fight someone as big as Miguel Cotto, it motivated me.”
 
As for the native of Caguas, it is evident that his big payday has gone up in smoke. When asked about the decision rendered as well as the scorecards, he responded, “Ask the public.”
 
Cotto continued, “I’m satisfied with the job I did tonight,” he boasted proudly. “I’ll go back to Puerto Rico and think. [Trout] came at me with both hands and it was a great fight. He fought until the end. I’m really thankful for all of my fans who were here to support me tonight. There’s nothing like fighting at Madison Square Garden.”
 
In case you were wondering, did Trout try to get Alvarez’s attention?
 
“Give me ‘Canelo’ - it’s time to unify this division” He said. “There are a lot of good fighters out there and I want to be the best.”
 
In the co-featured bout of the televised tripleheader, undefeated Puerto Rican featherweight prospect Jayson Velez, 125.8, impressively captured the vacant WBC “silver” featherweight championship after easily disposing of Salvador Sanchez II inside three rounds.
 
“It was easier than I thought,” said Velez, 20-0 (15). “I thought it would be a little more difficult. [I] was connecting so easily. This is a very exciting moment for me.”
 
Velez, a native of Juncos, Puerto Rico, followed his corner’s instructions and simply let his hands go. Velez unleashed a series of punches to the head and face of Sanchez II in the second round and after absorbing tremendous punishment, the Mexican showed he was human by touching the canvas before the round came to a close.
 
“This is a very exciting moment for me,” said Velez. “I’ve been waiting for this my whole life.”
 
Sanchez II, 125.2, of Tianguistenco, Mexico, was sporting the trunks of his uncle, the late, great featherweight champion and legend Salvador Sanchez. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to help him out as he added one more loss to his record, now standing at 30-5-3 (18). Summoning the spirit of the original Sanchez in a building filled with Puerto Ricans is easier said than done. When Sanchez II touched the deck again in the third, it became apparent to referee Harvey Dock that it was over. He stopped it at the :38 mark of the round.
 
Now that Velez has the silver, he should naturally go for the gold. A match-up with WBC champion Daniel Ponce de Leon seems inevitable.
 
For the second time this year, in as many months, cancer survivor Danny Jacobs returned to the squared circle to do what he does best - and that’s fight. Jacobs, 161.2, of Brownsville, Brooklyn (who now goes by the moniker of “Miracle Man”) opened up the Showtime telecast against the relatively unknown Chris Fitzpatrick of Cleveland, Ohio in a scheduled eight-rounder.
 
Jacobs, 24-1 (21), controlled the action as he dominated Fitzpatrick, cruising his way to a TKO victory. Jacobs pounded the bigger Fitzpatrick, 163.3, with a series of punches as the fifth round concluded, causing Fitzpatrick to call it quits while waiting in his corner in between rounds.
 
“I’m just glad that I got five rounds to get the rust out,” said Jacobs. “We don’t want to jump the gun but I think I’m back.”
 
Fitzpatrick, 15-3 (6), sustained a laceration to the top of his head. It wasn’t clear if the cut came from a punch or a headbutt that often occurs whenever a conventional fighter and a southpaw meet. And no, Fitzpatrick wasn’t a lefty. Jacobs, a conventional fighter, fought a good portion of the opening round in the southpaw stance. Why, you ask? It was a tribute to the fallen champion Hector “Macho” Camacho.
 
“I felt pretty good today,” said Jacobs. “I wanted to take my time. I heard a few boos but I hope the crowd appreciates it.”
 
Jacobs fought aggressively and attacked the cut on Fitzpatrick. As a result, Fitzpatrick failed to answer the bell for round six.
 
“I’m satisfied,” said Jacobs. “I let my hands go. I’m back as a contender.”
 
Maybe the sight of blood caused Fitzpatrick to panic. Who knows?
 
The heavy-handed but yet overweight junior middleweight Jorge Melendez, 155, scored the 24th knockout of his career while improving to 25-2-1 after stopping journeyman James Winchester, 155, 15-7 (5), of Greensboro, North Carolina in the fourth round.
 
Melendez, who was repping Carlos Beltran’s hood of Manati in Puerto Rico, thoroughly smashed his foe without breaking a sweat. Melendez scored knockdowns in the second and third frame. As the carnage continued, referee Ricky Gonzalez jumped in at the :54 mark of the round, saving Winchester of any more punishment or embarrassment.
 
Lightweight prospect and Caguas, Puerto Rico representative Jeffrey Fontanez upped his résumé to 10-0 (9) after stopping Pedro Arcos in two rounds.
 
Fontanez, 134.6, knocked down the Tijuana resident in the first with a left hook. Fontanez, 134.8, replicated the same course of action in the second frame when he landed another left hook set up by a right hand to the jaw of his slightly heavier opponent. Fontanez’s fistic fury left Arcos, 8-0 (6), on the canvas, prompting referee Tony Chiarantano to call off the fight at the 1:23 mark of the round.
 
It may be true that lightweights Michael Perez and Fernando Carcamo weighed in slightly above the lightweight limit at 135.4 (Perez) and 135.8 (Carcamo); however, it still doesn’t take away from the fact that Perez, a native of Newark, New Jersey, threw down and left it all in the ring when he locked horns with his counterpart of Obregon, Mexico.
 
Perez , now 18-1-1 (10), earned a unanimous decision over Carcamo, 10-5 (7), by scores of 78-71 and 77-72 (twice).
 
Perez and Carcamo shot the “fair one” over eight sizzling rounds that saw back-and-forth momentum as well as shifts in action. Perez floored Carcamo with a straight right hand in the first. In an attempt to be “even-Steven,” Carcamo wanted to show he had a trick of his own up his sleeve, reciprocating the same hospitality in the second frame. Both men traded and landed salacious shots throughout the contest with the American getting the better end of the exchanges.
 
In the eighth and final frame, Perez connected with a two-punch combination (left hook/right uppercut) that dropped Carcamo for the count of eight.
 
Featherweight Jorge Diaz, 122.4, earned a tough, hard-fought, six-round unanimous decision over solid foe Victor Sanchez, 126, of Houston, Texas. Scores were 60-53 across the board.
 
Diaz, 17-1 (10) dropped Sanchez early in the first round. However, it wasn’t enough to keep the Texan off him. Sanchez was a mosquito that would not go away. With the loss, Sanchez dropped to 3-5-1.
 
“Boogie-Down” Bronx major Eddie Gomez, 150, continued to climb up the junior middleweight rankings as he improved to 12-0 (8) by perfectly executing his game plan, through showcasing all facets of his repertoire against Puerto Rican Luis Hernandez. Ring intelligence was evident on Gomez’s part as well as superior hand speed. Hernandez never had a chance. The scorecards read 59-54, 59-55 and 58-55.
 
With the loss, Hernandez, 152, fell to 10-1 (6). Just a small ringside footnote: Strangely enough, referee Tony Chiarantano deducted a point from Gomez in the sixth round for an unintentional foul (a low blow) without any warning. This explains the off-kilter scorecards.
 
In the opening bout of the evening, middleweight John Thompson, 156.4, earned a six-round unanimous decision over Elie Agustama, 158, by scores of 60-54 and 59-55 (twice).
 
Thompson, a native of Newark, New Jersey, dictated the tempo of the fight by utilizing his left jab out of the conventional stance. With the victory, Thompson remains undefeated at 10-0 (3) while Agustama, of Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, drops to 6-6 (3).
 
Jay Gon’s Ringside Tidbits
 
-  Although I was born in Brooklyn, spent a couple of years there and went to college there, I am old-school. I prefer Madison Square Garden over the Barclays Center any day.
 
-  Last night, I learned there were four floors/levels underneath the ring/court/hockey rink at MSG. According to the workers, the first four levels in the building are offices and the basement.
 
-  December 1 marks the 15th year anniversary of the passing of Edwin “El Chapo” Rosario.
 
-  During the 10-count for the fallen champion Hector Camacho, everyone in attendance chanted “Macho” as loud as they could.
 
-  To everyone’s surprise Trout is Latino, being of Panamanian descent.
 
Trout’s mother was in attendance and according to his sister, Trout’s mom was born in New York. And they have a lot of family in Harlem, Brooklyn and in Long Island. Who knew Trout’s roots originated in the “Big Apple”?
 
“Last but not least, Trout’s sister was wearing what appeared to be a one-piece bathing suit with a fur-like coat over it. But the kicker was the eye contacts that were worn. They were these white/gray “zombie” looking things that covered both of her eyes. She stayed in character for the entire night. It was interesting.
 
Questions and comments can be sent to “Jay Gon” at jg51593n@pace.edu. You can also visit him at www.facebook.com/jason.gonzalez39 and follow him at www.twitter.com/jaygon15.
 
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