December will be the month when boxing takes center stage in the sports world, starting on Saturday night when Miguel Cotto challenges for the WBA light middleweight championship against undefeated champion Austin Trout.
Cotto will be looking to redeem himself after losing to Floyd Mayweather in May. Cotto was in talks to be Manny Pacquiao's next opponent before ultimately deciding to give a relatively unknown challenger a main-event spotlight match
Trout will enter the fight as the heavy underdog, but it would be foolish of people to underestimate him. He is a budding star in the sport with a perfect 25-0 record (14 KOs). A win here will jumpstart his career.
Where: Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y.
When: Saturday, Dec. 1 at 9:00 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Showtime Anytime (Subscription to Showtime Required)
Cotto's Keys to Victory
Home-Court Advantage; Power advantage
Cotto was able to get this fight in Madison Square Garden, the arena that has been home to some of the biggest wins of his career. He defeated Antonio Margarito, Joshua Clottey, Shane Mosley, et al. in the world's most famous arena.
The energy and fanfare Cotto receives fighting in Madison Square Garden is off the charts. He has never lost a fight at MSG in his career.
It also helps that Cotto packs a wallop when he swings. He is one of the most powerful light middleweight fighters in the world. It is imperative that he comes out landing big shots to stun Trout, who will have to make adjustments to stay in the fight.
Trout's Keys to Victory
Don't fear the stage; Be the aggressor against Cotto
Trout has won championships before, but he has never gone up against a fighter the caliber of Cotto. It doesn't help that Trout is going into Madison Square Garden, where Cotto will be an overwhelming fan favorite.
There comes a point in every fighter's career where they take that leap from good to elite. This is Trout's moment, it is on him to take advantage of the opportunity that he has been given without getting caught up in the glitz and glamour of the stage.
Trout is generally a defensive fighter. He has good striking and speed, but is more apt to use counter-punching to claim a victory. That strategy isn't going to help him against Cotto.
Instead, for him to earn the biggest win of his career, Trout has to come out and be more aggressive than Cotto. Trout doesn't need to be sloppy and careless, but making sure that he makes Cotto adjust the longer the fight goes.
What They Are Saying
One area that could be problematic for Cotto is in Trout's style, which is southpaw. Cotto used to fight with his left hand as the dominant hand, but now uses the conventional style.
At their press conference earlier this week (via EastsideBoxing.com), Cotto made a point of saying that Trout's style is not going to hurt him one bit.
Fighting southpaws is not difficult for me. Actually, I’m a converted southpaw. I used to fight southpaw, but converted into an orthodox stance. I have already fought many southpaws and didn’t really have any problems with them. I don’t expect to have any problems with Austin either.
A lot of boxers don't like the challenge of fighting soutpaw, but Cotto is ahead of the curve in that regard because he used to fight that style.
In this particular spot, Cotto gets a slight edge. I do think Trout will keep it close with his speed and southpaw style, but Cotto has a power advantage. In a close fight, give the advantage to the fighter more likely to land a one-punch knockout.
Cotto wins via split decision