AUSTIN TROUT: 2012 FIGHTER OF THE YEAR

December 16th, 2012 By Frances Martel

Austin Trout Wins The Year

New York, NY- In politics, we define cultural shifts by game changing moments—the minute Theodore Roosevelt decided to found the Bull Moose Party; Ronald Reagan refusing to exploit Walter Mondale’s “youth and inexperience;” President Obama’s race speech. Boxing has these moments, too—and used to have them with far greater frequency. The fact that we have not had one since Lennox Lewis (41-2-1, 32 KOs) fought Vitali Klitschko (45-2, 41 KOs) tells you all you need to know about the so-called “death” of boxing. Rumors of boxing’s demise have always been greatly exaggerated, however, though never as soundly put to sleep as they were the night Austin Trout (26-0, 14 KOs) retired Miguel Cotto (37-4, 30 KOs).

TROUT GOT NO RESPECT FROM COTTO OR BOXING ESTABLISHMENT

Trout came into the fight an underdog physically, entering the ring with a fighter in the running for the greatest of his generation– a generation that includes names like Shane Mosley (46-8-1, 39 KOs) and Joe Calzaghe (46-0, 32 KOs), one should note. But the psychological disadvantages Trout faced eclipsed any logistical shortcomings he may have exhibited before the fight. Agreeing to fight Cotto, the definitive Puerto Rican boxing champion of this decade, in Madison Square Garden, on a night in part dedicated to the memory of Hector “Macho” Camacho (79-6-3, 38 KOs), set the scene as one of the most aggressive away games possible. Trout couldn’t have found himself a more hostile environment fighting Ricky Hatton (45-3, 32 KOs) in Manchester. Yes, the audience received his victory with a grace uncharacteristic of the boxing home crowd, but Trout had no reason to expect that warmth, even as someone under the employ of their hometown hero. And if the crowd felt a particular appreciation for the man who had, for all intents and purposes, just ended Cotto’s career, they had good reason—Trout had humbly taken all kinds of disrespect from a fighter he admired greatly before stepping into the ring with him, from the egregiously low payday to the fact that, as champion, Cotto forced him to walk into the ring first.

THANK AUSTIN FOR RETIREMENT OF COTTO, ARCE, POSSIBLY PACQUIAO

Many will argue that Trout-Cotto’s twist ending was the most exciting factor in the whole fight, and that other fighters have made a more potent bid for Fighter of the Year. After all, Trout is cut from the same cloth, technically, as Bernard Hopkins (52-6-2, 32 KOs), Winky Wright (51-6-1, 25 KOs), and Floyd Mayweather (43-0, 26 KOs)—not exactly purveyors of a crowd-pleasing boxing style. Others will note that this has been a year of upsets long before Trout stepped into the ring with Cotto—between Josesito Lopez (30-5, 18 KOs) and Vyacheslav Senchenko (33-1, 22 KOs), the competition in boxing dragon-slaying is stiff. To those naysayers I counter that neither Victor Ortiz (29-4-2, 22 KOs) nor the aforementioned Hatton had the kind of reputation in the boxing community that Cotto earned. Neither fighter had to come back from a beating at the thuggish (and chalk-covered) hands of Antonio Margarito (38-8, 27 KOs); neither were known for having the kind of chin Cotto was famous for. What’s more, Ortiz never reached the elite level that Hatton and Cotto, older though they may be, ever did—he was never more than an Andre Berto (28-2, 22 KOs) carbon copy with a cute backstory for Jim Lampley to sell.

Juan Manuel Márquez and Mexican President Enrique Peña-Nieto

AS MARQUEZ’S OPENING ACT, TIMING WAS EVERYTHING FOR TROUT

And then there’s the biggest elephant in the room in the “fighter of the year department”: Juan Manuel Márquez (55-6-1, 40 KOs). It took him four tries to beat Manny Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs) badly enough that even the judges couldn’t fudge the numbers, but he finally, a week after Trout’s victory, handed Pacquiao that one-way ticket back to his game show studio and the Philippine Congress. And yet, without Cotto’s demise shortly before, would Márquez’s victory have felt as poignant? Trout’s victory ushered in a sea change, a passing of the guard in our sport that snowballed with Márquez’s victory and, just this weekend, Jorge Arce’s (61-7-2, 46 KOs) retirement at the hands of this generation’s greatest Filipino champion, Nonito Donaire (31-1, 20 KOs). Trout’s victory is far bigger than his own career—it is a victory that herald’s in a new era of boxing.

CANELO-TROUT IS THE NEW MAYWEATHER-PACQUIAO

The greatest thing Trout has achieved in his victory for the sport of boxing, as so many fighters who destroy moneymakers (and the possibility of a money-making fight in the future) so, is to thwart the plans of the promoters in having Cotto step in the ring with bright young thing Saul “Canelo” Álvarez (41-0-1, 30 KOs). Only 22, Álvarez has established himself as the new face of the game in the light middleweight division—a face visibly distraught at watching the money he could have made beating Miguel Cotto to a pulp slip out of his hands like so much sand. And what is the fun of boxing in the post-Don King era if not cheering for promoters to lose chances at making more money? But what Álvarez has lost at the hands of Cotto reemerges as a new opportunity—the chance to fight Trout for far less money and far more glory. And we all know that in the world of boxing, a shot at glory that doesn’t come with the equivalent purse is fight that won’t ever happen, especially if one of the fighters has a coveted undefeated record. And yet Álvarez-Trout will undoubted become the most wanted fight of 2013 on the part of fans that will likely spend years demanding the novel idea of a fight with an unpredictable outcome. Yes, fans got their new Mayweather-Pacquiao, a week before they bid Pacquiao adieu for good, and they have only Austin Trout to thank—how could he not be the 2012 fighter of the year?

COMMENTS

  1. Great story Frances, only problem is Goldenboy still wants to do Cotto vs Alvarez. They have no interest in putting him in there with a boxer. Thats why guys like Lara and Trout are avoided like the plague. I mean CANELO could have fought Lara, the top contender and they have the same promoter, yet instead he fought a 140 pounder in Lopez. Alvarez is good but the match making is suspect. He has yet to fight a legitimate contender at 154.

    KP on December 17th, 2012 at 9:47 AM
  2. Yeah, I completely agree with that– and it’s a topic for a much longer column, but the extent to which an undefeated status is closely guarded in modern boxing is a really big problem. In every other sport, the best players are routinely expected to lose. How many times has Roger Federer been runner up in a Grand Slam final? Yet the industry expects champions to never, ever lose, and when they do they are considered spoiled goods.

    Canelo did beat (an old, I know) Mosley though, so I expect great things. But he’s 22– at that age, if he wants to be the pfp best, he’s going to have to risk some losses.

    Frances Martel on December 17th, 2012 at 11:25 AM
  3. Blind fans are buying this product called Alvarez.Its not fit for purpose.Its a bullying product.He fights “smaller” opponents,is able to, cos got Big Brother,GBP paying his “small oponents” big money,so they take the fight.Alvarez is skillful,but still learning the trade,outside the top 6 @middlewght.

    one eye on December 17th, 2012 at 12:16 PM
  4. Trout beating Cotto was good because we get a fresh new young face in boxing, but I hardly know anybody that even knew Cotto fought and lost, even though the fight going in was a good matchup. No doubt trout marked the beginning of a new chapter, but JMM vs Pac 4, now that one lit the boxing world on FIRE! Got carried away and felt Marquez should get fighter of the year, but after seeing Donaire just DRILL Arce, broke mathebula’s jaw, and his other decent wins..aww man eff it…..marquez fighter of the year….

    Everyone should just follow Cotto and take on everyone build fans by FORCE. 154 is stacked (molina, lara, kirkland,mayweather,trout, alvarez, shoot if martinez says he can make 154, I wonder if thats true)

    The new mayweather pacquiao is JMM vs Pac V! Not for me, but its what I hear people talking about at work and everywhere else…I seriously agree that they should hang it up…

    For me I think the new Mayweather vs Pacquiao fight (because it will NEVER happen) and it would pit two of the most devistating fighters with a great matchup style, is Donaire vs Mares.

    A Ward Gatti type affair on tap is Matheyesse vs Rios…That wont happen either…

    1200 Techs on December 17th, 2012 at 11:43 PM
  5. Cinnamon, yes he’s a paper champ and hasnt’ really beat any top 154 contender but at his age, he’s very skillful, throws wicked combo, and seems very poised in the ring …Would love to see him take on anybody in the top 5 jr. middleweight. I thought he was lined up to fight Mayweather?? he did call out Kirkland who I believe priced himself out for whatever reason…

    1200 Techs on December 17th, 2012 at 11:52 PM
  6. Cotto was beaten by Pacquiao, Marquez drills Pacquiao… how do you get to Trout? No doubt No Doubt’s a good fighter… but many were picking him to win (including Pedro and KP), and many were saying that Cotto was over the hill post beat-downs by Margarito (even if/though dirty) and Pacquiao etc… not clear from your writing if you are saying that Trout’s win over Cotto is a game-changer, but I don’t see how it could be used to argue, above all else that happened this year or since Klitchko-Lewis, that boxing isn’t dead (which, I agree, it isn’t…) that this fight heralds a new age in boxing, or that it colored Marquez’s win/Pacquiao’s defeat, I think that’s a a bit of a stretch, to say the least…

    Bozo on December 18th, 2012 at 9:44 PM
  7. Good Lord! Fighter of the year for beating Cotto in 2012?? Who’d you have last year? Denis Lebedev? How about Povetkin in 2013 if he gets the Holyfield fight?

    Look, I agree Trout was disrespected in the promotion and I’m glad he won. But putting this guy in the same sentence as Hopkins & Wright when the closer comparison would seem to be Sharmba Mitchell borders on crushing.

    Cotto’s been done for a while (bizzare middle rounds of the Mayweather bout notwithstanding) Clottey beat a fresher version of Cotto 4 years ago only difference is he didn’t get the decision.

    Cotto’s never been a unified champion nor has he ever once beaten “the man” in any of the weight divisions he competed in. His last win against a current world class fighter was over Mosley (which I scored a draw) so the last one I thought he won was Judah … but it’s not 2007 anymore.

    Ten Count on December 22nd, 2012 at 6:48 PM

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