Anonymous Austin By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (June 9, 2011) Doghouse Boxing - Tweet
You probably didn’t know that Austin Trout- best known for serving as a sparring partner for the likes ofAntonio Margaritoand Sergio Martinez in recent years- holds a version of the WBA junior middleweight title. If that’s the case, it’s also likely that you didn’t realize Trout makes the first defense of his titlethis Saturday nightin San Luis Potosi, Mexico versus David Lopez. Trout won this belt by easily outpointing Rigoberto Alvarez in February in Guadalajara, Jalisco.
However, the amiable lefty from Las Cruces, New Mexico is still an anonymous figure even to boxing’s hardcore loyalists. If he walked down the street wearing his black WBA trinket, the most likely response would be “Hey, who’s that guy with that big belt around his waist?”
"Yeah, most definitely; I’m not as known as I’d like to be," admitted Trout, whose record stands at 22-0 with 13 knockouts. "My biggest problem has been my lack of exposure and it’s still the biggest problem." Still, ask any fighter; having one of those supposedly “meaningless” belts is anything but meaningless. It does change your career outlook, if not your life. "It has changed my life, not drastically like some would think but it’s all for the good. I mean, you definitely have to work harder, no more fighting bums. Recognition, I see my name on the internet and my name thrown in the mix of these big players. It’s very flattering and it’s also very humbling."
hen asked if he is known for helping the likes of the“TijuanaTornado” and “Maravilla” or being a beltholder, Trout admits, "Probably being Tony’s sparring partner or even Sergio Martinez’s sparring partner. I got a lot of buzz from doing that. I wouldn’t say more buzz from being a world champion but I was in camp with Margarito and Martinez more times than I’ve been champion."
At age 25, it was time Trout moved beyond being the southpaw who was brought into camp to help world-class fighters prepare for lefties.
"I think it was a perfect time; I don’t think I had ’Sparring Partner Syndrome’ because I used the sparring for my own benefit, to make myself better," he said. "I wasn’t really concerned about how good they were getting; plus, I wanted them to do good because it reflected good on me but I think I got more out of it than they did."
Between November of 2009 and until the time he faced Alvarez this past February, Trout was a fish out of water as he tried unsuccessfully to face Nobu Ishida, who at the time, was the interim WBA junior middleweight titlist. "Basically he ducked me for a year," explained Trout, who was the mandatory challenger at the time. "My promoter at the time was Empire Promotions and they pulled a fast one on me, making me step aside but it ended up working out for the good. I ended up being the champ but I would have rather gotten it sooner than later."
Eventually, Ishida was defeated by Alvarez, brother of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, who holds the WBC version of the 154-pound title. Trout would go south of the border and easily outbox Alvarez to capture the title. Now the question is how will he capitalize on it? After “The Empire” quickly crumbled, he joinedGreg CohenPromotions. Cohen left the company several months ago to start his own company and it will be his job to deliver lucrative fights for his client in the near future.
"I believe he can," said a hopeful Trout, a solid boxer with good all-around tools. "[Cohen]’s keeping me busy, which is the number one thing for me. A lot of promoters have these guys just sit down, just wait for the big things to come and instead of doing that- because we’ve been talking for the big names but the big names aren’t talking back- so instead of just sitting around just waiting for a big, huge fight, we’re going to go and travel and fight these...I wouldn’t say little fights because it’s still making good money for me and that’s the big thing for me- to stay busy. The busier I am, the sharper I am, the better I’ll be."
Cohen says, "Listen, the game plan is we’re going to keep him as busy as possible and make it so they can’t avoid us. Austin wants to fight all the big names in the sport. Anytime we’ve tried to negotiate a deal, we’ve been given insulting offers and obviously I have a fiduciary responsibility to my fighter. I can’t have him be underpaid for high-risk fights. Not that this here is an easy fight because he’s in a very tough fight this week but at least he’s getting paid properly for the type of opponent he’s fighting."
Trout and Cohen will fight all around the world and make up for the lack of a big fight, with volume, if need be. Quite frankly, they have no other choice.
"The first order of business is to get him on premium cable in the United States," said Cohen. "If we’re not able to do that, absolutely. Boxing is a world sport. You’re a world champion; there are places outside of the United States where fighting for the junior middleweight championship of the world means a lot of people appreciate it and we’re going to keep Austin as one of the most active champions in the world."
Cohen bristles at the notion that his nascent promotional firm cannot get its foot in the doors at HBO and Showtime. "Y’ know what? It’s a pretty insulting question; I’ve been in this sport since 1988. I’ve had dozens of fighters fight on HBO and Showtime- do your homework on me. You ever hear of Cedric Kushner Promotions? I was the majority owner of that company. We hadShane Mosleyfor eight years. I’ve hadShannon Briggswin the heavyweight championship. I hadIke Ibeabuchi; I had David Tua andHasim Rahman. I think the people atHBOand Showtime know me pretty well."
So just how close is Trout to getting into the ring with the likes ofMiguel Cotto(probably never), “Canelo” orPaul Williams?
"I think he’s on the radar screen; he’s been approved to fight on their networks but it’s a matter of making deals with other promoters who are willing to put their fighters in with him as well," Cohen points out. "We would’ve loved to have fought Paul Williamson July 9th but y’ know, we wouldn’t fight Paul Williams when he makes three times the amount as Austin Trout when Austin’s the champion. That’s not appropriate. We’d be happy to fight ’Canelo’ Alvarez today for any amount of money. There’s plenty of fights we’re more than happy to take but it takes two to tango."
Whether Trout had his choice of marquee opponents, he says, "It’s between Saul Alvarez and Miguel Cotto. I can’t tell you which one I want more but those are the two biggest ones that I feel like would be perfect for me right now."
But for the time being, Trout’s just another skilled guy whose low profile doesn’t fit into the “risk vs. reward” quotient that is so vital in making these fights come to fruition. The reality is that he’ll just have to put in the work and keep building his résumé and profile like another southpaw junior middleweight of the past,Winky Wright, who broke through after years of globetrotting and anonymity. Trout understands that the hard work has just begun.
"My ultimate goal is to be the undefeated,undisputed champion," he states. "Just having a belt is not enough and I understand that. Now, don’t get me wrong; I am extremely proud of the accomplishment in attaining the world title. It’s something I dreamed about for a year but nowadays, I understand it’s not enough. Now, if I get all the belts, I think that would not just be enough but that would get me in the status to be considered one of the greats likeManny Pacquiao.