Cotto Fishes for Trout
Lou Eisen / November 30, 2012 - 10:48am
On Saturday, Dec. 1, Puerto Rican boxing legend and future first ballot Hall of Famer Miguel Cotto will step into the ring at Madison Square Garden in New York to challenge the young and exciting Austin "No Doubt" Trout for his WBA super-welterweight championship. It is a real testament to Cotto's greatness as a champion boxer that fans will pack the Garden to the rafters while cheering themselves hoarse for their hero, Cotto. At this point in his career, titles are almost incidental to the Puerto Rican fist-fighting legend. The thrill for Cotto will be beating one of boxing's young studs in front of a raucously pro Cotto crowd.
Cotto will also have the spirit and memory of his slain compadre and fellow Puerto Rican national treasure Hector "Macho" Camacho" on his mind and in his heart when he faces off against Trout in New York city. Cotto must now pick up the fallen torch from the slain boxing legend and carry it high when he enters the ring to do battle with his younger and quicker foe. Cotto is a four-time world champion in three different weight divisions. He has won world titles at junior-welterweight, welterweight and junior-middleweight. Cotto has done so much for the sport of boxing that is positive and he has always conducted himself in a professional manner in and out of the ring. His fan base includes all ethnicities and all religions. Fight fans love Cotto because he always comes to fight his heart out every time he steps into the squared circle.
Cotto gave Floyd Mayweather Jr a much tougher fight than most boxing critics expected. That fight was much closer than the scorecards indicated. Cotto lost that fight but gained more fans for the manner in which he waged war with Mayweather Jr. He never gave up, he never backed off and he kept throwing shots until the final bell. How can you not love a fighter that leaves it all in the ring every time he fights?
Even in defeat, Cotto has always managed to remain magnanimous towards those very few men who have claimed victories over him. That is the sign of a true professional. It is also a refreshing sight to behold in an era where mutual respect in boxing between fighters seems to be almost non-existent. Cotto is favored in this fight but Trout definitely has the requisite skill set to cause Cotto grief all night long. For one, Trout is a southpaw and, even experienced veterans like Cotto still have problems facing southpaws. Trout also has explosive hand speed and Cotto has historically had problem with guys that have fast hands. Trout also has a considerable advantage in age but that edge might be quickly negated if Cotto, as expected, comes into the fight in his usual outstanding condition.
Cotto is an expert when it comes to cutting off the ring on his opponents. Trout's mobility and foot speed may hamper Cotto's ability to trap him on the ropes and pound away at his body. One thing to look for is to see whether or not Cotto will follow conventional wisdom for facing a southpaw by circling away from Trout's power hand. This will involve Cotto remembering to keep his lead (left) foot outside of Trout's right foot when they are facing each other. Trout will be trying to use his mobility to prevent Cotto from doing so, thereby creating more angles for his left hook.
Who is Austin Trout? Well, he is from Las Cruces, New Mexico and he is 27 years of age. He sports a pro record of 25-0 with 14 knockouts to his credit. There are not too many recognizable names on his boxing ledger. Probably the best-known person he has fought is Delvin Rodriguez, who he defeated by a unanimous 12 round decision, this past June at the Home Depot Center in Cason City, California. Trout won the vacant WBA junior middleweight world title by defeating Rigoberto Alvarez via a 12 round unanimous decision in Mexico in February 2011. As his record indicates, Trout does have some pop in his mitts but probably not enough to make Cotto respect him for any length of time in the fight.
Trout's trainer Louie Burke has stated that Team Trout has been after Cotto for two years to make this fight happen. Trout was simply not well enough known before to make this fight a viable economic enterprise. Burke insists that Trout matches up favorably against Cotto because he is a southpaw and he has speed of foot and hands. Trout's manager, Bob Spagnola said it is unfair for the media to question the quality of Trout's previous opponents because no one wanted to fight him for a long time. Spagnola commented on that when he said, "We never had any chosen fights. We were never in the position to call guys out. We always had to take whatever we givn and be happy with that. That will all change this Saturday night in New York when Austin gives Cotto a beat down."
Cotto has never responded to threats or intimidation in his career because he has heard it all before. He knows that most of it is to sell tickets and nothing more. The question remains though, does Trout really have a legitimate chance to beat Cotto? Well, for starters, Cotto is 32, which makes Trout the younger man by 5 years. Trout has a 2 1/2 inch height advantage, standing 5'9 1/2 inches tall. Trout's wingspan is 72 inches, once again giving him an advantage over Cotto of 5 inches. The question always asked about such physical statistics is, do they really matter once the fight starts?
The simple answer to that question is, it all depends on Trout. If he chooses to fight tall and use his reach advantage to keep Cotto on the outside so he can dominate him with his superior hand speed and mobility then yes, the physical advantages matter. However, if Trout decides to fight Cotto in close, which would be a huge tactical error on his part, then his edges in reach and height fly right out the window.
Trout has seemed content in the past to box his opponents from a distance rather than engage in a toe-to-toe slugging contest. That would be a wise move against Cotto. However, we don't know how fighting in New York in front of 20,000 rabid and vociferous pro Cotto fans will affect him in the ring. Another intangible to consider is, will he be intimidated by fighting in the fabled Madison Square Garden where world champions from John L. Sullivan to Muhammad Ali have showcased their fistic wares? We won't know until he steps into the ring.
Trout will have a very tough time winning a decision in New York against Cotto. That is almost impossible to accomplish. Just ask Joshua Clottey about that. Trout would be wise to keep turning Cotto all night long, thus never giving him a chance to set his feet to punch. Trout would be well served to fight Cotto from a distance and use his considerable reach advantage and hand speed to mark up Cotto's face from the early rounds on. In boxing speed triumphs power every time out.
For his part, Cotto will be forcing the action trying to trap Trout against the ropes so he can pound his body in an attempt to slow him down and take away his mobility. Can Trout take a punch from a big league bomber like Cotto? The simple answer is we just don't know. Trout has never faced a fighter with Cotto's power before. You can be sure that Cotto will be trying to test Trout's chin all fight long. Fight fans know that Cotto has an outstanding chin and that he still takes a good rap. Cotto will be trying to make Trout reach, which would make him off-balance and therefore much more susceptible to Cotto's big right hand.
Cotto has been in big time fights many, many times. This is the first big fight with massive media exposure for Trout. In New York, Trout will be one more small fish in a very big pond that is controlled by a shark named Cotto. It is entirely up to him whether he sinks or swims.