Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Fact Finding Mission about Austin Trout

1.  Who?
Austin Trout, the WBA junior middleweight champion

2.  Why should I care?
Trout has talent.  He's young (25) and he might become a real player in boxing.

3.  Ok.  Where is he from?
Las Cruces, New Mexico, USA. 

4.  What's his record?
22-0 with 13 knockouts

5.  So he's an undefeated American titleholder.  How come I've never heard of him?
He has never been aligned with a big promoter.  (I haven't figured out why.)  Also, his most noteworthy fights have taken place in Panama and Mexico.  He has not had major television exposure in the U.S. to this point.  Most of his American fights have been in New Mexico (not a traditional boxing hotbed, with the exception of Johnny Tapia and Bob Foster) or in small hotel ballrooms in Houston – not the best way to get media attention. 

6.  Well, he must have fought some good people to win his title, didn't he? 
Not really.  He won a vacant title by defeating Rigoberto Alvarez, the brother of Mexican sensation Saul Alvarez.  Rigoberto was not blessed with Saul's talent level.  Trout's other victories have been against low-profile fighters.  In short, he hasn't fought many notable opponents on his way to the title.

7.  Then how did he get a title shot?
The WBA elevated Miguel Cotto to super champion (even though he is not a unified titleholder).  Then, the WBA selected Trout to fight Alvarez for the vacant "regular" title.  Definitely a little bogus.  Trout himself claimed that he impressed the WBA when he defeated Nilson Julio Tapia at the WBA annual convention in Panama in 2009.

8.  So, does the kid have talent?
Yes.  Trout was an alternate to the 2004 U.S. Olympic team.  He had a solid amateur record of 160-45.  Shane Mosley, Antonio Margarito, Sergio Martinez and Lucas Matthysse have all used Trout as a sparring partner.  

9.  What can you tell me about Trout's style in the ring?
Although there isn't much tape floating around of Trout on the internet, I have found parts of five fights of his to examine.  Trout, a southpaw, has very good defensive skills.  He has an excellent jab and throws it consistently.  He likes to lead more than follow, although he has an impressive straight left counter when pressured.  He'll pepper his opponents with the jab and then throw a straight left hand to the body.  Trout will also start sequences with a lead right hook and follow up with a sharp left uppercut.  He moves very well in the ring and can make opponents miss without leaving the pocket.  He does not seem to get hit cleanly too often.  He is slick but he does have an offensive temperament.  He transitions very well from offense to defense.  I was very impressed with his ability to control distance in the ring and make opponents fight at his pace.   

10.  Does Trout have any major weaknesses?
He doesn't have legit power.  Although he throws his punches with good technique, he hasn't been able to stop his most recent opponents, and they weren't even close to world-class fighters.  He could certainly sit down on his uppercut more.  He sometimes can get a little wide with his right hook.  I'd be interested to see how he fares against high-volume pressure fighters.  Does he have enough power to discourage them? 

11. Who trains him?
Louie Burke.  He was a super featherweight in the '80s, also from Las Cruces.  As a pro, he beat Freddie Roach twice but lost in his most notable fight to Hector "Macho" Camacho.  In two instances, Burke was one or two fights away from a title shot, but he never won his step-up fights against Camacho or Charlie Brown.  As a trainer, Burke has also worked with Antonio Escalante and undefeated heavyweight David Rodriguez. 

12.  What are Trout's future prospects?
Trout is going to be a tough out for anyone in the junior middleweight division.  He has superior athleticism, very good (but not great) hand speed and a strong understanding of his strengths and weaknesses.  Right now, the junior middleweight division is wide open.  If Trout can stay at 154, there are a lot of interesting opponents for him in the division, including Cornelius Bundrage, Erislandy Lara, Vanes Martirosyan, Saul Alvarez and Pawel Wolak. 

13.  What's next for him?
He makes the first defense of his title on June 11th in Mexico against David Lopez.  Although Lopez's record (40-12 with 23 KOs) isn't great, he is on a 16-fight winning streak. 

14.  If you were advising Team Trout, what would you suggest they do after Lopez?
Trout has to get more exposure.  Admirably, he has fought in Panama, Canada and Mexico in his rise up the junior middleweight rankings, but he has not fought enough on American TV.  Team Trout should be calling ESPN every day to get a headline shot on Friday Night Fights.  Trout is currently promoted by Greg Cohen, formerly the founder of Empire Sports.  Cohen should certainly consider enlisting a big promoter for a co-promotional deal.  If he doesn't want to do that, he should talk to big promoters about giving them options on Trout's future fights if they give him opportunities on their major network television cards.  Meaning, if Trout gets a slot on a Top Rank card on HBO, then Top Rank gets a financial piece of his next two or three fights. 

The first call I would make if I were Cohen would be to Bob Arum to get Trout a fight with Martirosyan, who beat Trout in the amateurs.  That matchup would be a solid undercard fight for an HBO Boxing After Dark show or a headlining slot for Shobox.  Cohen should be running up some massive telephone bills this year.     

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