All went according to plan for Austin "No Doubt" Trout (30-2, 17 KOs) on Tuesday night against Joey "Twinkle Fingers" Hernandez (24-4-1, 14 KOs) at the Hollywood Palladium in Hollywood, California.
The former WBA World super welterweight titleholder cooly picked apart Hernandez in the squared circle, dominating the bout and overcoming a bodyslam to the canvas in the fourth en route to a knockout win in the sixth round.
A rare match between two southpaws, Trout made it four wins in a row, picking apart Hernandez with the jab and working the body with aplomb. The 29-year-old is now one step closer to returning to title contention after the easy victory. He stated his intentions after the match, per PBC:
Trout was a big headliner and solid titleholder around the beginning of the decade, but back-to-back losses to Canelo Alvarez and Erislandy Lara in 2013 saw him lose his title and take a big step down in competition.
Needing convincing victories to get back into title contention, Tuesday night was likely the kind of performance Trout envisioned when choosing Hernandez as his opponent and headlining the debut of Premier Boxing Champions on Fox Sports 1, per ESPN.com's Brian Campbell:
I don't want to force anything or try to make things that won't come naturally because that's how you end up looking back. But at the same time, I do understand the necessity of not just winning, but looking good. Really, at the least, giving the people a good fight. If Joey is much more than people think -- which I think he is -- then it's going to be much more of an interesting and exciting fight. But I will come out with my hands raised, I do now. How it will happen, that's up to Joey.
True to his word, Trout let the match unfold at a leisurely pace as he seized up Hernandez. The Las Cruces, New Mexico, native established his jab and sat back at a comfortable range. Hernandez tried to bob and weave his way in close to Trout but had difficulty throwing combos without getting popped by the jab.
Hernandez grew more lively in the third, bouncing around the ring, throwing more one-twos and taunting Trout. The extra sizzle was to no avail, as Trout—the one actually letting his hands go—punished him repeatedly with jabs and a right hook. PBC captured a highlight of Trout's big right hand:
Then the fourth round came, which saw Hernandez commit one of the most bizarre, cynical fouls you'll ever see in a boxing match. After a big swing-and-miss from Trout, the two boxers went into a standard clinch.
Hernandez, perhaps auditioning for a spot in the WWE, wrapped Trout in a bear hug, lifted him up and threw him to the mat—a classic bodyslam. But it certainly didn't score points with the crowd nor the referee, who immediately deducted a point. PBC provided a look at the infraction
UCNLive.com's Steve Kim couldn't help but enjoy it:
Trout shrugged off the foul with a laugh and went right back to picking apart Hernandez with his jab. His work rate increased in the middle rounds as his confidence grew. Jabs and right hooks were soon followed by overhand lefts and more shots to the body.
Composed, balanced and totally in control, Trout poured it on in the sixth, eventually finishing off Hernandez in the center of the ring with a flurry of blows punctuated by a left hook to the body.
The bout lacked action early on, but credit goes to Trout for upping the pressure when it looked like he could've sleepwalked to victory after an easy first three rounds. Maybe Hernandez's heel turn in the fourth helped wake him up.
Trout built up Hernandez as a quality opponent before the match, but the latter's clownish antics in the fourth round and poor performance might diminish the boost Trout is expecting from this fight.
Hernandez is now 1-3 in his last four fights. Julian Williams, who blanked Hernandez on the scorecards in April, has been touted as a potential opponent for Trout. According to Campbell, Trout has said if the networks make it happen, he will "definitely oblige him and take him out while at the same time propelling myself to either be a champion or put myself in line for a championship."
With Hernandez looking like damaged goods, Williams might be the fight Trout needs for a title shot.