Miguel Cotto faces Austin Trout in an intriguing WBA junior middleweight title fight tomorrow night on Showtime, live from Madison Square Garden. Is Trout catching Cotto at the right time, or will the Puerto Rican superstar prove to be too much?
Miguel Cotto should have too much experience and gas left in the tank for Austin Trout to pull off the upset. In general I never predict a guy will win a fight this big when his previous opposition has been so limited. And when I make the rare exception it's because said fighter has looked absolutely sensational in previous outings. Trout hasn't particularly stood out in any of his previous "big" fights. Trout didn't knock out Rigoberto Alvarez. He didn't knock out David Lopez. And he didn't knock out Delvin Rodriguez. Odds suggest he won't knock out Cotto. And even if Trout gives Cotto a close fight, is he really going to eek out a decision at Madison Square Garden? I highly doubt it.
Other than losing to the best boxer on the planet (which he did better against than most expected) Cotto has only lost to fighters that applied pressure and broke him down with power shots. Cotto does rather well against technical boxers. Trout is a technical boxer. And although Trout is a southpaw, so was Zab Judah. Besides his natural size and youth I don't see what Trout brings to the table that Cotto isn't already accustomed to. Cotto will likely take this by unanimous decision.
Austin Trout is a good guy and everyone loves him and isn't it nice that he's finally getting a shot at the big time. I've almost been swayed to pick him through sheer "oh my god, what a good dude!" sentiment around the internet. But I have to stick with what I think. And that is that Miguel Cotto is a better fighter with more experience at this kind of major stage fight. And for all the talent Trout has and all the credit he deserves, when Cotto is on, he's still an elite level fighter. Yeah, he lost to the best fighter on the planet (Mayweather) but he put up a hell of a fight doing it. I just don't think Trout is quite on that level and, as long as Cotto is in the right place, he should take it by decision. But, given that I've been wrong on almost every pick I've ever made here, that might bode well for Austin. Cotto by decision.
Miguel Cotto is still a terrific fighter, but Austin Trout is pretty good himself, and he's got some things going for him here. For one thing, he's 27, five years Cotto's junior, and a much fresher fighter overall. Cotto has taken some punishment over the years, Trout has not. Trout is also a southpaw, and a rangy one at that, who can control a fight's pace nicely. He's not a high-octane fighter, and he knows his comfort zone. He's willing to live in it, even if he's met with a jeering crowd.
He's also 5'10" and a real junior middleweight, while Cotto is 5'7" and really pushing himself fighting over 147. He's 3-1 at the weight, but he's also fought exclusively other ex-welterweights (Mayweather, plus shot versions of Margarito and Mayorga) and Yuri Foreman, who will never be considered a physical fighter.
So the question becomes, is Miguel Cotto still just too good for Austin Trout, even with Trout's advantages? And I'm not totally sold on the answer to that, but my gut feeling is that he is. Cotto is a far cry from the likes of Delvin Rodriguez and Rigoberto Alvarez, both competent, solid fighters, but not Miguel Cotto. I do think Austin Trout has a legitimate shot at the upset in this fight, but he won't get it. Hopefully Cotto can make this a crowd-pleasing fight, because Trout's not concerned with that. He's coming to win, and if it has to be dull, he'll take it. I like Cotto by decision, something along the lines of 8-4 or a competitive 9-3.
This is the kind of fight I wish would get made more often: it's not particularly eye-catching in terms of glitz and won't make too many headlines, but it's an interesting style clash between a guy who's been there and done it, against another who's fresher, younger, ready to step up and, above all, has earned his damn shot. Austin Trout feels as far away from the tired old Margarito/Mayorga formula as it's possible to get.
What's more, I rate Trout. The Rodriguez fight stank, but he only picks up a share of the blame, and he did the job pretty decisively. Go back as far as Alvarez - and, I'll admit, that was the first Trout performance that I saw in real time, as it were - and he hasn't put much of a foot wrong since. Technically he's sound, he's smart, and he won't be out of his depth here, as the doubters would have you believe.
The problem, for me, is that I think many people picking the upset are thinking this is some kind of crossroads fight that would be the case two or three years from now, with Cotto, nearing the end, paired against the hungrier, younger fighter. That may ring true of Trout already. It doesn't for Cotto. Trout can't stop him, so he needs to put on a clinic to win at MSG. He'll find success in patches, and may sweep a few of the cards in, say, the first four or five, but the guy in the other corner is still all there. Once Cotto closes the gap, it'll be a question of how the fight is won, and not who it's won by. Cotto TKO10.
Trout's a clever southpaw with size and youth on his side. He should have a decided advantage in the middle of the ring - and if he can keep the action there, he can win this fight comfortably. I don't think Cotto is close to the same fighter these days as he was 4 or 5 years ago - and his strong showing last time out had more to do with Mayweather's aging legs than a true return to form. When Mayweather rested along the ropes, Cotto was able to plant his feet and rip left hooks. He won't get those same opportunities against Trout, and that's going to drastically limit what he's able to do.
I think Trout will win 9 or 10 rounds - but will that be enough to sway the judges at MSG? I'll say, yes, but just barely. Trout by split decision.
Trout is a curious choice of opponent for a man of Miguel Cotto's stature and position. Yes, I will applaud him for taking on a talented, in-his-prime contender like Trout. However, Trout is bigger, faster, and stronger than Cotto, while also a better boxer from a distance. His southpaw stance will not do Cotto any favors either.
The feeling I get is that this will be a disappointing fight, a chess match with more feinting than actual punching. It won't be Cotto's fault but Trout will try his best to make this a boxing match, not a brawl. Look for Trout to stay on the outside, pecking Cotto with his jab while trying to catch him with uppercuts when Cotto rushes in. If that is unsuccessful, he will hold. I'll take Trout on decision in a stinker. Don't be surprised if Cotto still gets Canelo in the spring, nevertheless.
Final Tally: Miguel Cotto 4, Austin Trout 2.