Austin Trout will defend his WBA junior middleweight title on June 2 against Delvin Rodriguez, part of the big four-fight card headlined by Tarver vs Kayode on Showtime, and he's looking forward to showing a larger audience what he can do in the ring.
To date, the 26-year-old from Las Cruces, N.M., has had trouble finding big fights in the division, and finding much TV exposure in the States. His last fight was televised by Showtime, but as the main event of a "special" ShoBox in November, and it really didn't give the diehards who tuned in but may not have been familiar with him a real good look at his skills and abilities.
That night, Trout (24-0, 14 KO) was matched with a lousy WBA-approved challenger in Frank LoPorto of Australia, who gave his best but was grossly overmatched and so awkwardly incompetent that he made Trout look sloppy in the process. It was kind of like watching Major League hitters face high school pitchers -- a few 79 mph fastballs throw them off a bit, as the timing just isn't there.
This time out, he's facing Rodriguez (26-5-3, 14 KO), a quality contender on a good roll right now who is finally fighting a regular schedule again. Last year, he drew with Pawel Wolak in the Bad Left Hook Fight of the Year, and in December rematched the hard-charging Pole and won a clear, 10-round decision on the Cotto vs Margarito undercard.
It's a matchup of two guys who lack power promoters and have earned their way into better fights. In lieu of getting big money opportunities, they'll fight each other and try to take another step toward the real main event scene.
Trout feels that Rodriguez won't be a significant challenge for him, though, and is happy to be getting a chance to back up his boasts.
"He's a good fighter," Trout says of Rodriguez. "I'm glad to be able to have a fight like this on this stage against an exciting guy like him, but honestly, I don't feel like he's on my level.
"It'll be a good fight. He's a warrior and he brings a hard fight for all 12 rounds, but I think I can get him out of there in the late rounds. It might be closer early, but I'll pull away in the later rounds for sure."
Trout also says training for the fight has gone well.
"Training is going good. I'm tired, so it's doing its job. I'm excited. I can't wait for June 2 to come. I'm working so hard right now and it's all going good. I'm more excited now than I've ever been. In fact, I'm trying to curb it back because it's making my days go real slow."
For a fighter in Trout's position, this is a potential breakthrough fight for fans who really should have seen more of him by now, but haven't. He recently inked a deal with all-around sideline magician Al Haymon, which should help his case greatly, particularly given that we've seen Haymon work Showtime's new hierarchy into featuring pretty much his entire stable of fighters, save for Floyd Mayweather and Adrien Broner.
But it's a fight he can't afford to lose, even with Haymon backing his play these days. And for Delvin Rodriguez, every fight might as well be seen as do-or-die. This is a fight that shapes up to be competitive and could well steal the show on June 2. Trout has an opponent worthy of sharing a ring with him and a stage worthy of the fight. He's got his chance. Now he has to make it count.
Trout also says he'd like to one-up his Haymon stablemate Mayweather from last Saturday's win over Miguel Cotto.
"I'm hoping to get the Kardashian sisters to be my guests of honor at the fight. I saw Floyd had Justin Bieber in his corner. I want to be able to say 'forget Bieber. I got the Kardshians!"