By Jake Donovan
Austin Trout’s next title defense – a December 1 showdown with former three-division champ Miguel Cotto – comes with a now-completed two city tour. Neither one of them were anywhere closes to his hometown of Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Of course, the stops in New York City and Caguas, Puerto Rico make sense. The fight will take place at Madison Square Garden, where Cotto has headlined on seven previous occasions. Wednesday’s press stop in Caguas was in honor of Cotto and the Puerto Rican pride brought out in his fights for the past dozen or so years, or at least as long as his name has appeared in the marquee in any given event.
Trout is no fool. He knows he’s here because of his unbeaten record (25-0, 14KO) and current status as a 154 lb. titlist. He is no ratings magnet by any stretch and his last fight – a 12-round points win over Delvin Rodriguez in June – was more of a case of win today, look good the next time.
Still, Trout has never shied away from a challenge and in fact spent much of his down time between fights earlier this year calling out the best fighters in his division. His high-risk, low-reward status resulted in lonely nights spent waiting for his phone to ring until Cotto’s camp came with an offer.
“Miguel Cotto needs no introduction," said Trout during the press tour. “He's a true champion and one of the best fighters of the last 10 years, but I'm the present and future of the sport and this is just the showcase I need to prove to the world that I'm one of the best, pound-for-pound.
“I can't wait to fight in such a legendary place like Madison Square Garden; it's every fighter's dream."
Trout is looking at a career-best payday for the fight, but at the risk of traveling to another fighter’s backyard (or in this case, Cotto’s home away from home) and as a considerable underdog. It’s a role not unfamiliar to the southpaw, who at one stretch spent six of seven fights on the road.
Included among the lot was his title winning effort over Rigoberto Alvarez last February in Mexico, followed by a return trip south of the border four months later for a dangerous defense against career-long spoiler David Lopez.
Trout enjoyed a rare home game last November, knocking out Frank LoPorto in his Showtime debut in New Mexico. This year’s campaign goes coast to coast, with the win over Rodriguez in California now followed up by a road trip to the Big Apple.
The massive support for Cotto come fight night (and leading all the way up to the fight) is of no concern to Trout, who has New York roots and looks forward to making his Garden debut. The goal by fight’s end is not just to win but to make new fans in the process.
“I am not here to lose my belt. On December 1, I hope Puerto Rico accepts me as their champ,” Trout stated in his final words of the tour before heading to training camp.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox