by David P. Greisman
Austin Trout has several things going for him. He is undefeated, a titleholder in the junior middleweight division, a boxer who has recently signed with powerbroker adviser Al Haymon and who is being featured on the Showtime television network.
But what the 26-year-old still doesn’t have is a name that resonates with those who follow the sport.
That, says Trout, is where Delvin Rodriguez comes in.
Trout, 24-0 with 14 knockouts, will face the battle-tested Rodriguez (26-5-3 with 14 knockouts) this Saturday, June 2, as part of a Showtime quadruple-header. Rodriguez is a name fight fans are already familiar with, a face that has appeared on television several times, a man who has been in numerous entertaining bouts, including two battles last year with Pawel Wolak.
If Trout wants to be better recognized in boxing, he needs to start by beating Rodriguez, with this one bout potentially opening more doors in the future.
Trout spoke with BoxingScene.com late last week.
BoxingScene.com: We’re getting closer to your fight with Delvin Rodriguez. How’s your training camp going?
Trout: “Camp is good, man. I’m ready to wind this down. We’ve been working hard. It’s been a good camp.”
BoxingScene.com: What are your thoughts on Delvin Rodriguez as an opponent?
Trout: “You know, he’s a perfect opponent to make a statement in this packed class. He wants the title, I want his name. I think he’ll bring the best out of me. And I’ve been wanting somebody to bring the best out of me, especially to be on TV. It’s just perfect.”
BoxingScene.com: What about Rodriguez do you think will bring the best out of you?
Trout: “You know, he’s a crafty fighter. Not only does he throw a lot of punches, but he changes styles. We’ll get to see my defense. You’ll get to see my adaptability. You’ll get to see my toughness. I’m going to have to use all my tools and attributes to beat this man. That’s why I feel like he’ll bring the best out of me.”
BoxingScene.com: What kind of style do you think he’s going to bring? I know we’ve seen him in two straight wars with Pawel Wolak, although he had two different styles for both of those fights.
Trout: “I don’t know. I think he might be a little bit more reluctant to go to war with me. I think he’s going to try to box a little bit more. I think after he figures he can’t outbox me, he’s going to end up having to go and bang it out, but I think he’s going to have a couple of different styles throughout the fight.
BoxingScene.com: It might not be the best idea for him to go to war with you, considering your style, though.
Trout: “Right, I don’t think it’d be the best fight for him, but I don’t think he can outbox me either, though.”
BoxingScene.com: How do you see the fight going, then?
Trout: “I think it’s going to be a good close contested fight for the first half of the fight. After I feel like I have him figured out, then I think I can pull away come the later rounds for a late stoppage, or definitely a unanimous decision.”
BoxingScene.com: Obviously you see a difference in class between yourself and Delvin Rodriguez. Where do you see Rodriguez fitting in among the other fighters at 154 pounds to the point of the kind of statement a victory over him would make for you?
Trout: “I believe he’s up there. For me to get the Kirklands and the Canelos, I have to get through Delvin. I feel like Delvin could definitely beat James Kirkland. I feel like he’s up there with the contenders, but I don’t feel like he’s necessarily a champion. For people to take me seriously as a champion, I have to beat this contender.”
BoxingScene.com: How much tape of him have you watched?
Trout: “We’ve watched quite a few. Before I even knew I was fighting him, I used to watch him on ESPN as a fan of the sport. I’ve seen a lot of Delvin’s fights. One thing is he doesn’t have a problem with southpaws. He knows how to fight southpaws.”
BoxingScene.com: Do you think his style has possibly taken a lot out of him to the point that he’s more vulnerable in this fight with you?
Trout: “I think he’s a little bit more battle-worn than I am, definitely. I think this is his shot, though, so I think you can never underestimate what a man is going to do when his dream is right there within his grasp.”
BoxingScene.com: You’ve been on Showtime before, but this is a bigger stage. What’s that going to be like for you?
Trout: “You know it’s going to be just like another day at the office. I’m not going to be intimidated or star-struck. I don’t feel like the lights are going to get to me. I’m just looking at this as the most important fight of my life, and it really doesn’t matter what stage it’s on, I have to go in and perform to the best of my abilities.”
BoxingScene.com: It’s interesting that you say it doesn’t matter what stage it’s on, but it’s also the biggest fight of your life. With that kind of expectation, if not pressure, on you, how do you deal with that to make sure you fulfill the victory in this biggest fight of your life?
Trout: “I’m doing that right now, in camp. I’m training hard, working on the game plan, working on our adaptability. I think all the work we’re doing now is going to transfer over into the fight.”
BoxingScene.com: How long have you been waiting for a big opportunity like this, and what does it mean to be fighting on a major card and get the attention that has long eluded you?
Trout: “Man, my whole career. I felt like I should’ve been on TV every fight of my life. But it’s not my plan, it’s God’s plan. Being able to get this type of coming-out party, we waited a long time.”
BoxingScene.com: What does a victory over Delvin Rodriguez do for you, then, in terms of exposure?
Trout: “I can finally get the public behind me. I think the public is like ‘Well, we’ve heard of this guy, but we haven’t seen this guy. I’m not totally sold on Trout.’ I need the public to be sold on Austin Trout.”
BoxingScene.com: And because of that, does this fight have to be entertaining in a certain way and end in a certain way?
Trout: “I think it’s going to be entertaining regardless. I’ve never really seen Delvin in a boring fight. I’m not going to go off my game plan or do things to make it entertaining, but I’ve never been the type to just run or coast either. If I’m winning, I want to knock him out. If I can’t knock him out, I’m just going to keep trying until I can. That’s just how I fight.”
BoxingScene.com: I know fighters always say they’re focused only on this fight, but I have to ask this anyway — what fight should be next, what fight do you want next after Delvin Rodriguez should you win?
Trout: “I want all the belts. I want to be undisputed, undefeated champion. So any beltholder, I would love to have him next, understanding that the powers that be probably won’t let that happen. I’ll take anybody that has a bigger name than me, and that’s a long list. After Delvin, I know my name will be a little bit bigger, so anybody that has a bigger name than mine, I’m ready for the challenge.”
BoxingScene.com: Anything else you’d like to say?
Trout: “I just thank God for the opportunity. The timing has been perfect, which is why I truly believe this is God’s plan. If you believe in fate, believe in God, whatever you believe in, I truly believe that this is my time. I’m taking this opportunity in my own hands. I’m going to take it and run with it.”
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter at twitter.com/fightingwords2 or on Facebook at facebook.com/fightingwordsboxing, or send questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org