MADISON SQUARE GARDEN, NEW YORK — Austin Trout went entered the ring first last night as a mostly unknown and unrespected 154 titlist. This morning he’s the talk of the boxing world, having become the first man to defeat Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden. The fight was very good, but Trout clearly showed who was the better man and added his name as a force at light middleweight. Have we seen the last of Miguel Cotto, who’s now gone winless in 2012? Onto the news and notes from last night.
Trout’s Straight Left to the Body: This was probably the most important punch of the fight. From the first round, Trout was stabbing Cotto in the pit of his stomach with this punch. With a five-inch reach advantage, the shot kept Cotto at mid and long range. And it was one of the reasons Cotto didn’t have much snap on his punches in the later rounds. Cotto was right in that he had lots of experience with southpaws, but he never met one with Trout’s size, length and commitment to body punching.
Roughing Up the Bruiser: Like many, I expected Cotto to get inside and rough up Trout as the fight went on. Starting in the third round, it seemed like that prediction was coming true. Cotto was able to get Trout on the ropes and repeatedly landed hooks to the body that forced Trout to hold (sometimes excessively). Although Cotto was still being outworked for most of the third through the sixth, he was landing the harder shots in exchanges. Perhaps realizing how much he towered over Cotto, Trout began manhandling Cotto in the trenches while mixing in uppercuts through the guard and to the stomach. This was another factor that contributed to Cotto’s fatigue and had him looking completely spent in the championship rounds.
Did Cotto Underestimate Trout?: During the final press conference, Cotto flat out said Trout was nothing special and spoke about how the potential fight against Canelo would be great for boxing. You can’t help but wonder if he completely overlooked the man in front of him. Cotto looked absolutely lost out there from about the eighth round on. Nothing consistently worked. Trying to go inside got him smothered and bullied. Outside left him a sitting duck to be outboxed with Trout’s underrated southpaw jab and get potshotted with straight lefts and right hooks. Trying to fight off the backfoot and counter had Cotto eating shots on the ropes and having to retreat further. You could see the discouragement on Cotto’s face and confidence building in Trout’s body language as the fight progressed.
Cotto Is an Old Fighter: Don’t even focus on the physical aspect of all the mileage Cotto has on him from the wars. Look at it from the mental aspect. Did you see the same killer instinct from years past? The same guy that fought through adversity to take out Jose Torres and DeMarcus Corley? The same one who showed no mercy to Yuri Foreman? Or even the guy who in May gave Floyd Mayweather all he could handle? I say emphatically no. Miguel Cotto looked mentally worn out in those later rounds. The mental edge/killer instinct that was one of his trademarks has been significantly dulled. He just couldn’t dig deep to truly get himself back into it. This is a man who has spoken openly about retirement in the last few weeks, a clear indicator that his heart is not completely in boxing anymore. The biggest example of this came in the ninth when a Trout shot on the belt line made Cotto turn away and act like he had been hit low.
The Scoring: There were people on Twitter last night who said the scoring was too wide. Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaeffer echoed those sentiments in the post-fight press conference. I know fights can be very different in person than on TV, but from my couch I didn’t give Cotto a single round after the sixth. Miguel was being outworked (clean punching), controlled by Trout’s gameplan (ring generalship), couldn’t land much clean outside of sporadic hooks to the body (defense) and had every attempt to pounce on Trout turned back (effective aggression). If you go by the four criteria points used to score fights, Trout ran away with this fight in the second half.
What’s Next for Both: Before storming off from the ring, Cotto stated that he “probably” will fight again and stated he wasn’t finished yet. I do believe 2013 will be his last year as a fighter. His name is still big in boxing so he’ll command nearly any fight he pleases. Schaeffer said in the post fight interview that the Canelo fight is still possible for Cotto, despite Trout calling out Canelo himself after the fight. The circumstances of their last fights are totally different, but let’s hope Trout doesn’t get the Timothy Bradley treatment over the next few months. The man deserves his due; we all lauded about how well Cotto did against Mayweather and Trout just beat Miguel much more decisively. I seriously doubt Trout gets Canelo — he’ll probably at best have to look at a unification showdown with Cornelius “K9″ Bundrage as a viable fight.
The Canelo Jinx Strikes Again: If you hear Canelo wants to fight you next, be very afraid and make sure he’s nowhere near the arena on fight night. Cotto joins Paul Williams, James Kirkland and Victor Ortiz as potential Canelo opponents that have had their careers derailed for various reasons. Maybe this is Fate’s way of telling Canelo he needs to face a tough fighter like a Austin Trout before he’ll get a superstar.
What are you thoughts on last night? Too wide scoring? Should Cotto hang it up?