Trophy Kill: Austin Trout W12 Miguel Cotto

****

Prevailing wisdom said Austin Trout would be hard-pressed to win a decision over Miguel Cotto in the hostile confines of Madison Square Garden. Apotheosized by the devoted legion who churn turnstiles in support of Puerto Rico’s most recent fighting idol, Cotto could expect to complement his fistic repertoire with a legitimate home-field advantage. Trout accepted the challenge and the role of challenger (he was introduced first despite putting his WBA chewed leather cummerbund on the line), and with an impressive blend of brains and brawn, reduced a tall order to a simple task, winning a lopsided unanimous decision by scores of 119-109 and 117-111 (twice).

Exploiting a five-inch reach advantage and superior speed, Trout, Las Cruces, New Mexico, began the fight looking to establish a rhythm with his jab. For much of the first two rounds, Trout successfully kept Cotto at the end of his punches, while remaining out of his stocky, short-armed opponent’s range. Despite adopting the role of boxer more frequently as he moved up in weight, Cotto, Caguas, Puerto Rico, came out of his corner with an aggression reminiscent of his sanguinary past. Yet it was Cotto who ate the heavier leather through the opening three rounds. Trout was scoring with a sharp right jab and a straight left that he targeted at Cotto’s chin and belly.

The third round saw Cotto find success in closing the distance, and the crowd readied to erupt if only their man could land something substantial. But Trout, who fought all twelve rounds with the unflappability that was once Cotto’s trademark, refused to be cornered, bullied, or undone. With a frustrating dynamic of upper body movement, elusive feet, and muscle in the trenches, Trout avoided being struck cleanly in combination, and gave better than he got. Never a pernicious puncher at junior middleweight, Cotto managed to bury home his share of blows, but they made no mischief with his foe’s features, and it was self-reprimand, not pain, that distorted Trout’s face when a fist slammed into it.

In the sixth round, Cotto, 153 3/4, reverted to boxing, looking to draw the slippery Trout to him. This change in tactic seemed to be a sign of fatigue. Considering the pressure Cotto applied in the first half of the fight, it was reasonable to expect him to look to conserve energy. Boxing on his toes, Cotto was able to land some eye-catching punches on Trout. The success was short-lived however, and Trout, 154, used the next two rounds to reestablish control of the fight. Even if it failed to land, Trout’s jab kept Cotto off rhythm, while his right hook and uppercut drummed a beat upside the tiring Cotto’s skull.

Rounds nine through twelve saw Trout willingly engage in exchanges, imposing his strength and impressive conditioning, and looking to overcome any possible shenanigans on the scorecards with insurmountable evidence of his dominance. Conversely, Cotto spent long periods languishing beyond reach, fatigue widening the trajectory of his punches, his zest for combat seemingly waning en route to the inevitable. His face began to bear not just the abrasions of the night, but of a career, and his movements acquired the lumbering crapulence of a man overfed with a career’s worth of punishment. The decision was academic.

What the future holds for Trout, 26-0 (14), is unclear. In an endearing move, he called out Golden Boy Promotions’ mollycoddle Saul Alvarez, who was seated ringside. Alas, Alvarez had left his seat before Trout’s challenge could find his ears. Too bad. Shaming him might be the only way to get Alvarez, and specifically those who handle his career, into choosing an opponent who is neither undersized nor clapped-out. Regardless of who he faces next, Trout would be wise to capitalize on the accolades that accompany a fighter’s first trophy kill, and take measures to stay in the sport’s collective consciousness. Though burdened with Marvin Hagler’s famous three strikes, Trout is not menacing enough to be avoided. If he can build a bit of a following, especially in New Mexico, his future could be bright. The same cannot be said of Cotto.

In the eyes of the judges, Cotto, 37-4 (30), has failed to win more than three rounds in either of his last two fights. Yes, his last bout was a loss to Floyd Mayweather, Jr., but in falling so easily to Trout the agruments for his rejuvenation must be trashed. Cotto’s reputation exceeds his ability, and equilibrium between the two is merely a sound beating away. He was non-committal about his future and left thousands of fans disappointed by not enduring Jim Gray’s badgering long enough to bid farewell. Perhaps he has tired of his profession and will return to Puerto Rico, where only the Coquis will have his ears ringing. More likely he will be cannibalized by Alvarez sometime next year. Whatever he decides to do, in an age of asterisks depreciating accomplishment, Cotto has no such blemish. He fought the best of his era, and earned his success. That is legacy enough, one would think.

****

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Topics: Austin Trout, Miguel Cotto

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  • http://twitter.com/JDrimmer5000 Josh Drimmer

    I liked the calling out of Hagler’s three strikes there, Jimmy. It’s not going to be easy to get big kill for young Austin, but I was far more impressed with him than I had been against the elder Canelo or Edwin Rodriguez, possibly because Cotto brought the fight, but then again, as the fight went on, that definitely wasn’t always the case.

    In any case, I await his next fight, while hoping Cotto doesn’t take the fodder route from here.

    • Jimmy Tobin

      Hi Josh, thanks very much.

      Trout impressed me too, primarily because I’d only ever seen him against Rodriguez and that was a dreadful fight. I’m cautious to anoint Trout as anything better than a good fighter; nothing he did Saturday was spectacular, and Cotto really is on the slide. Regardless of what Cotto has left, I give Trout credit for fighting his best fight thus far, and for understanding the opportunity presented, making some mid-fight adjustments, and trying to close dominantly.

      I don’t imagine Canelo goes anywhere near Trout because Trout brings very little to the table except for a title (which doesn’t matter to Canelo) and a tough but winnable fight. Judging from Twitter, Trout is a really popular guy, but I’m skeptical that pom-poms are exchanged for tickets and beers any time soon. Trout’s pretty uninspiring between the ropes, unless you already have some affinity for him. Still, it’d be nice to see him rewarded for his work and class.

      Cotto had spoken of wanting to become a better father in the lead up to this fight. That’s an interesting statement coming form him. When most fighters say they want to better care for their family they’re speaking to professional success, drawing connections between financial security and quality of care. Cotto’s got buckets of cash, so being a good father with him seems to require time more than money. The preservation of his faculties figures in his statement as well.

      He does seem a bit weary of the work at this point. Is that because he doesn’t feel he’s been given the credit on the scorecards in his last two fights? Maybe, but he clearly lost both fights. And he’s been around long enough to understand that that’s how it goes.

      The cash out bout for him was with Pacquiao, but Cotto picked an unknown titlist instead, which makes me think he had aims of continuing his career. Although, maybe he just wanted to win one before fighting the biggest money fight available. Hard to say. He says he’s going to continue fighting, but who knows what that means. My bet is he fights Alvarez, gets pounded out, and moves on. But I’m an optimist, and a huge Cotto fan. Until they choose otherwise, the fodder route is in every fighter’s future.

  • thenonpareil

    Hi JT,

    nice recap. That was a good win for Trout, who knows what he’s doing in the ring. General competence is enough to flummox most of the guys running around with stamps of approval from premium networks and P-4-P fantasists. In Cotto’s case, it’s a sign of his being past his peak. Bob Arum did a fantastic job resurrecting Cotto after Pacquiao dismantled him: big event/big money fights against the not-so-threatening trio of Foreman, Mayorga, and a damaged Margarito. GBP, on the other hand, once again produces another accidental matchmaking gem. When promoters make mistakes, the public benefits, so we got a pretty good fight and a nice performance from Trout, who has already accomplished more than Andre Berto has in his career. Fighting as an underdog, fighting on the road, and beating a big name pro are all things Berto has failed to do and that make Trout a professional prizefighter and Berto a delusion of the cheerleading squad, who think ducking fighters, whining after losses, maintaining a step-aside fee cottage industry, losing to ex-featherweights, and getting busted for steroids are signs of an “honest” fighter.

    I’m not sure Alvarez will fight Trout–even though “No Doubt” is known to the Mexican fight crowd–but I think he beats Trout fairly easily. At this point, Alvarez is a much livelier fighter than Cotto is, and his precise combination punching is much sharper than Cotto’s is these days. But Team Canleo is likely not interested in risking its money train unless there is big PPV lettuce involved. Then again, maybe someone makes another mistake behind the scenes.

    • Jimmy Tobin

      Hi CA,

      Thanks. As I was watching this fight I got a real appreciation for the work TR did preserving Cotto as a moneymaker after the Pacquiao fight. His run at 154 is indeed some shrewd promoting. It was pretty clear to me that Cotto, even though he has three stoppages at the weight, isn’t a puncher at 154. Those gloves look huge on him, and he never hurt Trout, who has no asterisk next to his absorptive capacity. I get that Trout was picked because he had a belt and little power, but one look at these guys at the press conference and it was pretty clear that Cotto was in real trouble. Trout, having won in Mexico, wasn’t going to be rattled in NY, and his style is all wrong for Miguel. Anything but a soft-punching slugger is gonna give Cotto trouble at this point. Good luck finding one of those.

      I’m with you in thinking that Canelo beats Trout without too much difficulty (though that’s an extremely unpopular opinion in light of Trout’s easy victory over Cotto). Part of me thinks Canelo should take the fight with Trout because beating him now would give Canelo more clout than it should. And certainly more than he would reap for busting up Cotto. I don’t expect it to see Trout in there with Canelo, but as you said, with GBP you never know.