Let's discuss the obvious—this is not the fight Canelo Alvarez wanted. What was going through the Mexican sensation's mind on December 1, 2012 at Madison Square Garden as he watched the underdog Trout put on a boxing clinic? As the rounds wore on and it became abundantly clear that Miguel Cotto was going to lose in front of thousands of adoring fans, the Showtime cameras kept panning over to Alvarez. He held a poker face, but you didn't have to be a mind reader to guess what was going on behind the eyes. "Not again."
By the end of the night, when the scorecards were read and Trout was declared the winner, The Curse Of Canelo had become a very real thing. If this dude came anywhere near your fights, you were in trouble.
Once again, Alvarez was left in search of a new opponent. Of course, he still could have attempted to make a fight with Cotto; fighters have lost and still been awarded a mega-fight. But there was no doubt that the fight would have lost some of its luster, and Alvarez wanted a fight that would enhance his pound-for-pound status.
Enter Trout, whose stock skyrocketed after the relatively one-sided victory over the Puerto Rican star. His performance was brilliant; he boxed well and showed a willingness to stand and trade, something that was severely lacking in his last contest—a horrid snoozefest against Delvin Rodriguez. He earned the right to take on Canelo, and he was rewarded with the bout after talks between Alvarez and Floyd Mayweather fell through.
Trout now finds himself in the lion's den. He'll be in the ring with a 22-year-old punching machine in front of a hostile crowd looking for blood. Trout is still a relative unknown outside of the hardcore fans. Alvarez could sell out a building filing his taxes. Trout out-boxed Cotto, but beating a faded star who has been in several wars is much different than beating a younger foe who is still craving success at the highest level.
If he's looking for inspiration, Trout shares a few traits with another junior-middleweight—Winky Wright. It was nearly eight years ago when Wright, a fellow southpaw, stepped into the ring with heavily favored Tito Trinidad. The unheralded Wright dominated nearly every second of the fight with his boxing skills and defense. He quieted the crowd early and kept Trinidad completely off balance and confused. Trout doesn't have the defensive prowess that Wright possessed, but he's a very good boxer. He's easily the best opponent Alvarez has ever been in with. Sorry, pounding an utterly shot Shane Mosley doesn't count for much.
Stylistically, the fighters are nearly total opposites. Alvarez is an orthodox fighter with a decent defense and heavy hands. He uses both hands well and enjoys stalking his prey by cutting off the ring. Trout uses a southpaw right jab to establish distance and he counter punches effectively. Fans who expected him to get on his bicycle against Cotto were pleasantly surprised when he stood and traded on numerous occasions in the fight. He would be wise to avoid trading punches with Alvarez, who hits harder than Cotto and is much fresher. One would expect his game plan to involve a lot of movement and counter punching. Utilizing a lead left hand would be an excellent tactic to keep Alvarez from setting up in the pocket.
Last week, we saw a puncher completely befuddled by a more precise boxer. Can Austin Trout pull the same trick with Canelo? If he can pull off the upset, he'll open up the doors to other major fights in the near future. This is the biggest fight of his career; one that will either solidify his status as a pound-for pound-threat, or leave him as another notch on the belt of a young phenomenon. He should take full advantage of the chance in front of him; many fighters only get one.