Last chance saloon for Trout?
On Saturday a huge night of super-welter action sees Erislandy Lara and Jermell Charlo defend their WBA and WBC straps against Terrell Gausha and Erickson Lubin respectively, while 20-0 IBF champion Jarrett Hurd makes the first defence of his newly won crown against Austin Trout. Jack Laidler argues that for Trout it's a make or break fight...
At one stage Austin Trout was on the cusp of becoming one of boxing’s most celebrated rising stars.
A former WBA world titlist, Trout's career record stands at 30-3. However, his last win against a genuine world level opponent was almost five years ago versus Miguel Cotto. Since that victory he has gone 4-3, tasting defeat in three bouts for an interim or full world title.
Having just turned 32, Trout's tilt at Jarrett Hurd’s IBF strap could well be his final involvement at world level should he taste defeat yet again.
Things weren’t always so gloomy.
Austin ‘No Doubt’ Trout turned professional in 2005 after a very accomplished amateur career. He won over 160 bouts and was crowned the U.S National Amateur champion at welterweight, a title that since has been won by current world kings, Errol Spence Jr and Demetrius Andrade.
He claimed stoppage wins in his first eight contests before finally being taken distance in a six-round contest by journeyman Julio Perez. He remained active over the first two years in the paid ranks and by the end of 2007 he was 13-0.
Fifteen months later, and now unbeaten in 16, Trout faced the 9-4 Martin Avila for his first professional title. A fourth round knockout landed him the lightly regarded WBA International title.
As 2009 came to a close Trout had improved to 21-0. Although he was yet to claim any scalps at world or even fringe world level, the unbeaten prospect was ranked with the WBA and was patiently awaiting his shot.
Unfortunately for Trout this wouldn’t materialise for nearly 18 months. Issues outside of the ring had led to the longest period of inactivity in the young prospect's career.
However finally, in February 2011, Austin Trout received his title tilt. At the Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, in a show promoted by future world champion Canelo super welter title.
In a lopsided mismatch Trout coasted to victory with all three judges giving him the decision 119-108.
Although on paper he was a world champion, Trout still was untried and untested at anywhere near elite level. Instead of going on to face top contenders, his first three defences of the WBA trinket were tame to say the least.
Firstly he took a points decision versus David Alonso Lopez whose record stood at 40-12. A stoppage win over the 15-4-2 Frank LoPorto followed before another points decision gave him the win over Delvin Rodriguez. Rodriguez had himself already been beaten on five occasions.
This run of average fights was to end however and Trout’s label as a world champion was about to become legitimised, and on the biggest possible stage.
On 1 December 2012, in his fourth defence, Trout was given the unenviable task of facing former three-weight world champion and Puerto Rican superstar, Miguel Cotto.
Cotto was coming off the back of his unanimous decision loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr but was still very much an elite level fighter. His only other defeats had come at the hands of Manny Pacquiao and a controversial stoppage defeat against Antonio Margarito.
The fight took place in front of 13,000 people in Cotto’s boxing backyard, Madison Square Garden.
Although the underdog in the fight, Trout was able to use his fast hands and technically fantastic footwork to manoeuvre Cotto around the ring whilst landing with the straight left on multiple occasions. Cotto wasn’t without success in the fight but was unable to trap his opponent against the ropes and throw his powerful left hooks to head and body. Trout even managed to visibly hurt the future Hall of Fame fighter in the second half of the fight.
In what was a huge upset, Trout won via a wide unanimous decision.
He had beaten a superstar. The idea that Cotto was perhaps past his prime was also quashed when eighteen months later he became a four-weight world champion with a ninth round stoppage of arguably the top middleweight in the world at the time, Sergio Martinez.
Trout instantly called out the WBC super welter champion, Canelo Alvarez. His wish was granted just five months later.
The contest was to be both men’s first unification fight. A win for Trout would be life changing. He would be deemed genuine elite level and he would get paid like it too.
Trout started well in the early rounds, before gradually finding himself on the end of more and more of Alvarez’s power shots. He wasn’t able to use his speed and movement to mesmerise Canelo as he had done to Cotto.
In the seventh round Trout was floored for the first time in his career after walking into a straight right hand. Thereafter he was unable to work his way back into the fight and, although he remained competitive throughout the 12 rounds, he lost his unbeaten record as well as his title.
A points loss to the Mexican superstar was no embarrassment, but unfortunately for Trout a second successive points decision loss followed, this time to the technically gifted Cuban Erislandy Lara for the Interim WBA title. Again Trout was knocked down, this time in the 11th before going on to lose a wide decision.
Trout was able to put together a four-fight win streak in the two years after the Lara defeat before again challenging for world honours. This time he faced the unbeaten IBF champion Jermall Charlo.
A third unanimous decision loss was the outcome. The scorecards read 115-113, 116-112 and 116-112. The fight had been close as Charlo badly tired in the second half of the contest, allowing Trout to take control. However, a third straight defeat at world level left Trout's career in limbo.
Luckily however, Charlo moved up to middleweight, letting the IBF title become vacant, leaving Jarrett Hurd to win the vacant belt with a TKO of Tony Harrison.
Hurd is by far the least accomplished world champion Trout will have faced. Although unbeaten in 20 contests, the New Mexican must see the untested 20-0 Hurd as his best possible chance of returning to the winner's circle.
A win on Saturday could propel Trout back to the big time, while a loss will likely curtail a once exciting career.