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Miguel Cotto vs. Austin Trout: Preview, Prediction for Junior Middleweight Bout

Kevin McRaeFeatured ColumnistNovember 29, 2012

Miguel Cotto vs. Austin Trout: Preview, Prediction for Junior Middleweight Bout

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    Miguel Cotto has become synonymous with Madison Square Garden and boxing in New York City.

    The former four-time World Champion has fought in the Garden on seven previous occasions, winning all of them, and will try to capture his fifth world title against Austin Trout on Saturday night.

    Trout, the WBA junior middleweight champion, has taken the long road to boxing's biggest stage. Even as the defending champion, he is—without a doubt—the party crasher.

    But it's Miguel Cotto's house, and it's his party.

    For Trout to walk out of the arena with his WBA title still around his waist he will need to turn in the performance of his career.

    It will also require him to walk into the lion's den—in an environment the likes he's never seen—and turn back a future Hall of Famer in his backyard.

    That is not an easy task for any fighter, especially given the guts and determination that have become the hallmark of Miguel Cotto's career. 

    Who will emerge victorious when Austin Trout defends his WBA 154-pound title against Puerto Rican legend Miguel Cotto? 

    Read on as we breakdown the fighters, the fight and give you the inside scoop on whose hand will be raised on Saturday night.

    Kevin McRae is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted all quotes were obtained by the writer personally

What You Need to Know: Miguel Cotto

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    Miguel Cotto (37-3, 30 KO) is a future Hall of Famer. He has won four world championships in three different weight divisions and will seek to add a fifth title this Saturday.

    He is one of the greatest fighters to ever come out of Puerto Rico, a huge accomplishment given the number of tremendous boxers the island has produced.

    This will be Cotto's eighth fight in New York's Madison Square Garden, where he is undefeated. But he is coming off his third career loss, a decision to Floyd Mayweather in May.

    In his career Cotto has established himself as a must-see attraction. He is a warrior in the truest sense of the word and never gives less than his all in any fight.

    In his illustrious career he holds victories over notable fighters including fellow future Hall of Famer Shane Mosley, Zab Judah, Paulie Malignaggi and Antonio Margarito—whom he defeated in his last fight in the Garden.

    Two of his three losses have come against the recognized best pound-for-pound fighters of this era—Mayweather, and Manny Pacquiao.

    The third, a TKO defeat by Antonio Margarito in 2008, has come under a great deal of scrutiny after Margarito was discovered attempting to load his hand-wraps in his next fight.

    Cotto is all-action, blood and guts and will leave it all in the ring on Saturday night.

What You Need to Know: Austin Trout

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    WBA junior middleweight champion Austin Trout (25-0, 14 KO) has taken the long road to the biggest fight of his career and logged a lot of miles along the way.

    A standout amateur fighter and a 2004 U.S. Olympic boxing team alternate, Trout is an example of a fighter who had to pull himself up by his bootstraps. Nothing was handed to him, and what he earned didn't come easy.

    When Trout turned pro, he had to literally become a world traveler to secure meaningful fights. Nobody was in a rush to face the him and stops in Canada, Panama and Mexico were necessary to secure a world title bout.

    That shot came in 2011 when Trout went to Mexico and captured the vacant WBA junior middleweight title against Rigoberto Alvarez, the elder brother of fellow 154-pound champion Canelo Alvarez.

    But even with a title, Trout found it hard to secure bigger fights, earning him another title as one of boxing's most avoided fighters.

    It is this, more than anything else, that will motivate him to perform at his best and win the fight.

    He's worked his entire life to get here, and feels that this is likely his one and only shot. 

Miguel Cotto: Advantages

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    ADVANTAGES: 

    The Crowd

    Miguel Cotto summed it up perfectly in the final press conference for the fight held on Wednesday at The Theater at Madison Square Garden:

    “Trout mentioned he’s been all around the world winning but come Saturday night he is facing Miguel Cotto not anyone else.”

    Miguel Cotto has been on this stage many times before in his career, and specifically, he's fought before his hometown crowd at MSG on seven previous occasions. He will get a tremendous boost from the 20,000-plus fans who will virtually all be in his corner.

    This type of atmosphere can both give a boost to the fan-favorite fighter and psych out the other guy. Austin Trout has been a road warrior throughout his career, often going into hostile environments, but nothing like he's going to see on Saturday.

    Experience

    Miguel Cotto is an established star in boxing. He has fought the best and he has beaten the best. His level of competition is light-years ahead of his opponent. 

    Power

    It's safe to say that Austin Trout has never been hit with a punch from a fighter like Miguel Cotto. The Puerto Rican star will look to check his chin early in the fight and this will play a large part in determining the outcome.

    Toughness

    We know Miguel Cotto is willing to go into the trenches and put it all on the line to win a fight. He'll box you or he'll go to war with you. Either style is fine by him and he can win both types of fights. 

Austin Trout: Advantages

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    ADVANTAGES:

    One and Only Shot

    Austin Trout feels like there is much more at stake here than his WBA championship. In his eyes, he's not only fighting to keep his title but also to validate his place in the sport.

    “I feel like the powers that be don’t necessarily want me in the boxing game because I feel like I’m a thorn in everybody’s sides. A loss will be the best way for them to get me outta there. So losing is really not an option,” Trout told me on Monday.

    And that's powerful motivation. A win and suddenly you're the next big thing; a loss and it could all be over. All the hard work, hours in training and travel around the world for fights could be gone in one night.

    The Jab

    Austin Trout has a tremendous jab and he's a better boxer than Miguel Cotto. He can make it very difficult for the Puerto Rican legend by keeping the fight on the outside and boxing.

    Cotto also has a tendency to cut and swell, something Trout can use his jab to exploit.

    Size

    Austin Trout will be the biggest man Miguel Cotto has ever faced at junior middleweight. In his previous fights, the only man that Cotto has ever fought who was a legitimate 154-pounder was light-hitting Yuri Foreman. 

    Trout is two-and-a-half inches taller than Cotto and holds a massive five inch reach advantage. This will help him use the jab to try and keep Cotto at distance and keep the fight from close quarters.

    Southpaw/Style

    Trout is a southpaw with a tricky style. His style is not conducive to any of his opponents, even a legend like Miguel Cotto. He is slick, tough and can be very frustrating for the guy across the ring.

Miguel Cotto Will Win If...

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    For Miguel Cotto the key to victory is simple: keep the fight on the ropes and out of the center of the ring.

    Cotto will look to force Trout along the ropes, where he can nullify his jab and superior boxing ability, and then go to work on the inside. 

    There is no doubt that Miguel Cotto hits harder than Trout, and he will need to assert that early. Austin Trout has never been hit by a boxer with Cotto's power, and it will be interesting to see how he can handle this level of firepower.

    But in order to find out, Cotto must keep the fight on the inside where his advantages are substantial. He'll need to take Trout into the deep water and keep him there.

Austin Trout Will Win If...

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    Miguel Cotto wants the fight on the inside, and that's the last place Austin Trout wants to be.

    Trout is a tremendous boxer, a slick southpaw with a long, stiff jab that he'll need to use to keep Cotto at bay and on the outside. He's also going to be the faster fighter by a big margin come fight night.

    If he can do this effectively and stay within himself then he can absolutely win this fight. 

    What Trout needs to do is avoid big exchanges. For one reason, we don't know much about his ability to take a huge shot from a puncher like Cotto.

    But even if he can, with a hugely partisan pro-Cotto crowd, you don't want to give them any opportunities to influence the judges. 

    This leads to a larger question about whether or not Trout can go into Madison Square Garden and win a decision against the hometown fighter. 

And the Winner Will Be...

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    Generally speaking, when an established veteran fighter meets a relatively unknown hungry, young champion one of two things happen:

    1.) The older established fighter reminds us of why he's at the top of the mountain and sends the younger fighter packing.

    Or

    2.) The younger fighter has what amounts to a coming out party, supplanting the veteran, and showing the fans that he's legit. 

    Miguel Cotto looked good in his last fight, despite losing, and many felt that this signaled the beginning of a resurgence. 

    Meanwhile, Austin Trout is a virtual unknown who will stop at nothing to prove that he belongs and has the ability to compete at this level.

    But Trout is younger, and I'd bet he is hungrier at this stage than Miguel Cotto. He's fighting for more, and he has much more to lose.

    A loss for Cotto would likely signal the end of a tremendous Hall of Fame career. But he'll have nothing to hang his head about and can go on knowing that his list of accomplishments is impressive.

    A loss for Austin Trout could mean it's back to Las Cruces, New Mexico hoping for a second shot. Given how hard it was to get this first shot, he'd have no reason to be optimistic.

    Austin Trout will keep this fight in the center of the ring where he will use his superior speed, jab and boxing ability to stifle Cotto's formidable offensive attack. He will look to control distance and stay off the ropes where Cotto would be able to score points.

    It's a very tall task to go into MSG and win a decision against Miguel Cotto. It might be close and it might be controversial—but Austin Trout will win this fight by decision on Saturday night.

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