Austin Trout has probably never been on your TV, despite that he's one of the best young fighters out there right now. The 25-year-old southpaw from Las Cruces, New Mexico, has never had the major promotional backing that helps so many get the exposure necessary to become a star. But he's making his own way.
Trout (23-0, 13 KO) holds a bogus belt the same as many in boxing do. His WBA junior middleweight title was put up for grabs in Mexico against Rigoberto Alvarez, the older brother of Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, in February. Trout hit the road looking to win the "regular" version of the belt from the same "sanctioning" body that considers Miguel Cotto their "super" titlist despite the fact that Cotto has never held a different 154-pound title, and supposedly "super" champions are created by unifying belts from other organizations, but hey, who's counting?
What's not bogus is the way Trout is going about making a name for himself. The road he's traveling is the one that takes the long way to the ultimate destination, which is big main event fights that have been earned -- really, truly earned. Like Glen Johnson and many others before him, Trout is becoming a road warrior.
He went back to Mexico on June 11 to convincingly defeat David "The Destroyer" Lopez, a tough veteran who had been on a long winning streak, and like Trout has never been someone's favored son in the boxing game. Lopez has had trouble finding good fights though he's done more to deserve them than a lot of "star" fighters do. Trout gave him the chance at a major belt, and then Trout won on Lopez's turf.
Now, "No Doubt" is going to head to Australia to face Anthony Mundine on August 24, with his eyes on a November fight against top junior middleweight Sergiy Dzinziruk, according to Lem Satterfield.
Mundine (42-4, 25 KO) is past his prime, but while I have reasonably (in my view) bashed his level of competition over recent years, he can still fight a little bit, and his talent has never been something I've criticized. The fact that he's 36 and starting to have difficulty defeating the one-dimensional likes of Garth Wood tells me that home field advantage or not, Trout should be heavily favored.
But going to Australia to fight Mundine shows the sort of fighter we're dealing with here. Trout was promoted by "The Empire," a company that had great, big hopes in boxing, but clearly put their eggs into the wrong basket(s). Now with that company having folded, Trout has stuck with promoter Greg Cohen, who clearly believes in Trout as the reason to start Greg Cohen Promotions. Sure, he's got veterans like Hasim Rahman and others, but Trout is obviously the fighter on whom Cohen should build his company. Like Trout getting to HBO or Showtime main events, it might take a while, but it's being come by in a far more honest fashion than we generally see in boxing.
Those who saw Trout beat Lopez know that this is not a fighter to be underestimated. If he can defeat Mundine and maybe Dzinziruk this year, he's without question one of the elite 154-pound fighters in the world today. And if all that happened, he'd still probably have never been on your American television. Go figure.