By Jake Donovan
Muhammad Ali was barely four months removed from his first career loss against Joe Frazier, when he faced Jimmy Ellis, a longtime friend and sparring partner. Both fighters hailed from Louisville, with Ellis admitting his lifelong dream of beating Ali in the pro ranks. Ali’s reply was a warning that if Ellis ever “dream about beating me, he better wake up and apologize.”
It’s doubtful that Miguel Cotto will have anything as bold to say to his upcoming opponent, Austin Trout. The two meet on Saturday in the Showtime-televised main event at Madison Square Garden.
The fight is Trout’s first at the world’s most famous arena, and also his first on this level. But it doesn’t mean he hasn’t spent his entire life preparing for this moment.
“In the back of my mind, I’ve always sized up any fighter I’m a fan of,” revealed Trout (25-0, 14KO), an admitted longtime Cotto fan. “When I was a kid, I always fantasized about beating my favorite fighters. I’ve been doing it my whole career.”
Included on the list of legends that have fallen in fantasy land to the unbeaten southpaw are “(Floyd) ‘Money’ Mayweather. When I was in high school, it was Roy Jones Jr. I even go back and visualize beating Sugar Ray Leonard and Pernell Whitaker.
“I have a list of fighters that I admire, and Miguel Cotto is on that list. In my day dream about Cotto – which I feel like I can bring to reality – it’s a win by knockout. It’s a hard, tough fight for a while. But I come out in the later rounds and pull ahead to get that KO victory.”
Trout attempts the fourth defense of the 154 lb. belt he won on the road in Mexico nearly two years ago against Rigoberto Alvarez. The fight was the first of two consecutive trips south of the border, returning five months later to beat David Lopez in his first defense.
On both occasions, Trout encountered hostile partisan crowds, but still emerged victorious. The New Mexico-based titlist is ready to do the same this weekend, even with the backdrop of 20,000 Cotto supporters in attendance cheering his every move.
Trout believes to have the perfect solution to neutralize that aspect of the evening.
“I just have to make sure that I don’t give the crowd nothing to cheer about.”
A Cotto loss would certainly do that. Vyachaslev Senchenko brought immediate silence to the Manchester (U.K.) Arena the moment a body shot dropped and stopped Ricky Hatton in the 9th round of last weekend’s Showtime headliner.
Trout is ready for history to repeat itself… and for his dreams to come true in the process.
“Either way, my hands are raised, whether it’s by decision or knockout,” Trout says, indifferent to the means of how he pulls off the upset. “The visualization is that my hand will be raised (in victory).”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox