In the end, it was Father Time as much as ring smarts that helped Austin Trout convincingly defeat Miguel Cotto in the successful defense of his WBA junior-middleweight world title. The fleet-footed Trout wisely used every physical advantage he held over Cotto as he boxed his way to a very lopsided 12 round unanimous decision victory in New York this past weekend. The rabidly pro-Cotto crowd sat silently by in stunned disbelief; watching their hapless hero absorb a beating he was helpless to prevent.
Trout, a tall, quick fisted and heavy-handed southpaw took control of the bout from the outset by using his superior ring generalship and hand speed to keep Cotto at bay, never allowing him to get in close enough to land punches of even ordinary significance. Cotto’s countenance was being used for target practice round after painful round as he was unable to prevent Trout from landing double and triple jabs on his increasingly swelling and misshapen features. It wasn’t too long before Cotto’s eyes were beginning to swell, hampering his vision and thereby hindering his ability to defend against Trout’s straight left crosses and follow-up right hooks. In fact, Cotto was having trouble picking up any shots fired at him by Trout straight down the pipe.
Cotto’s game plan going into the fight was no secret. He wanted to corner the taller and speedier Trout against the ropes and rake his body with thumping combinations to the liver and kidneys so as to take his mobility away in the later rounds. Trout never gave Cotto the chance to get started as he nullified Cotto’s vain attempts to get inside by standing at a distance and using his piston-like right jab effectively to punish Cotto with his blinding speed and unerring accuracy.
Speed always trumps power in boxing and nowhere was this more evident than Trout’s ability to throw lightning fast and powerful combinations almost at will to prevent Cotto’s offense from turning the key in the ignition. Trout’s powerful left crosses were consistently coming in behind his jabs, which rattled off of Cotto’s head with increasing regularity as the fight wore on.
In fact, it is rather disingenuous to call the Trout-Cotto match a fight. Cotto would have been required to return an equal amount of firepower on a regular basis for this debacle to have even come close to being considered a fight. This was more of an extended gym workout for Trout, or, to be quite blunt, target practice. Cotto would land the odd rabbit punch or body shot in the clinches, but really not much else of consequence.
Cotto seemed resigned to his fate early on although this did not prevent him from continually trying to figure out a way to slow the indomitable champion down. Trout was in superb physical condition and Cotto’s body attack lacked the effectiveness and strength he has show in previous fights. It was a sad and wistful night indeed for those many fans in attendance old enough to remember Cotto’s magnificent glory years.
Trout deserves credit for being a very smart fighter and he wisely threw his punches in blinding combinations, following up his jabs, with bruising straight left hands and then punctuating his flurries with right hooks to the head. Cotto’s age and his previous ring wars finally caught up with him against the younger, faster and more mobile Trout. Cotto didn’t have the customary fire in his belly that has made him one of the most popular and dangerous ring warriors of the past quarter century.
Try as he might Cotto was outgunned in every round as Trout put on a boxing clinic for all to see. Anyone previously who may not have been a fan of Trout will now undoubtedly be convinced. He is the complete package in the junior middleweight division along with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. His most potent weapon is his brain and when you add that to his potent ring arsenal, he represents a huge challenge for anyone interested in trying to wrest away his WBA junior-middleweight crown.
Trout accentuated his ring strengths by smartly keeping the fight on the perimeter of the ring, holding Cotto in place and at bay with his ramrod jabs and booming straight left hands. Trout is a safety first fighter and if there is really no valid reason to trade with your opponent, then why bother taking chances that aren’t necessary? The fans may not always be delighted with that kind of ring attitude but they are not the ones risking life and limb in the squared circle.
Trout did exactly what he said he would do in the weeks leading up to the fight. He got on his bicycle early and spent the entire bout circling Cotto, making the older man give chase, never allowing a single opportunity to turn the fight into a back alley brawl. That is not to say that Cotto was nothing more than a one-dimensional pug; Far from it. He certainly tried to attack Trout and touch him up at various times in the fight but he was just too old to make a credible stand against a much younger and hungrier man.
Cotto looked painfully slow against Trout and Trout’s speed of foot and hand simply exacerbated Cotto’s inability to let his hands go often enough on his younger and taller foe. In his prime, Cotto was a highly skilled boxer-puncher with crushing power in both hands and the speed and ring wits to beat any type of fighter put in front of him. He was also blessed with the ability to cut off the ring but those skills have long eroded and an argument could be made that Trout won every single round of the fight.
To paraphrase the great Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, Cotto did his best in boxing terms to, “Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” but his star is sadly dimming as age is catching up with him much quicker than he is able to catch up with his opponents. Cotto’s star has lost its luster and will soon disappear altogether from the boxing firmament. Those critics who would simply label Cotto’s performance an off night are denying the obvious. It is fare to say now at the end of his glorious ring career that so many savage and ferocious ring battles have finally caught up with Cotto. Upon retirement, Cotto will not have to wait long until he is inducted unanimously into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
What of Trout? Well, right now he is in the most talented division in all of boxing. Possible future opponents include Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Erislandy Lara, Floyd Mayweather Jr, James Kirkland, Cornelius Bundrage, Vanes Martirosyan and Manny Pacquiao. Yes, he has added the first big name opponent to his win column by defeating Cotto convincingly. Yes, Trout matches up very well against the best fighters in the junior middleweight division, but so does Alvarez. Trout’s southpaw style and quick hands should make for some great upcoming fights with Kirkland and Alvarez in particular because of their contrasting ring styles. If Trout’s conditioning holds up and he can remain injury free, he stands a good chance of unifying the junior-middleweight division.
Cotto, one of his country’s most brave and gallant warriors, was forced by tragic circumstances beyond his control, to defend the honor of Puerto Rico from the fallen hands of Hector “Macho” Camacho. Let’s hope he heeds the lessons of boxing history and goes quietly into that good night.