By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Austin Trout has succeeded in hostile territory.
The WBA 154-pound champion beat Mexico’s Rigoberto Alvarez by unanimous decision in Guadalajara to win the then-vacant title in February 2011. He previously topped Panama’s Nilson Tapia by majority decision in Panama City.
Those are among the reasons Trout isn’t intimidated by the thought of meeting Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night (9 p.m.; Showtime). Puerto Rico’s Cotto (37-3, 30 KOs) has fought at the Garden seven times over the past seven years and has been boxing’s draw there in the 21st century.
Trout (25-0, 14 KOs), a southpaw who was an alternate on the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team, is ecstatic Cotto took the fight, no matter where it’ll take place.
“He’s doing what other champions in his weight class won’t do, and that’s take on the challenge of fighting Austin Trout,” Trout, 27, said during a press conference Wednesday at the Garden. “Even if that means to unify, some people still won’t do it. So I thank Miguel for this opportunity, because all we ever wanted was just a chance.
“Really, that’s all I need — just one chance. Saturday night, I plan on making history, and not in the form of letting Miguel be a five-time world champion, but in the form of being the only person to beat Miguel Cotto in New York. I’m going to be the first to do it.”
Cotto clearly could’ve chosen a lesser challenge for his first fight since undefeated pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. out-pointed him May 5 in Las Vegas, and still done big business at his home away from home. Trout, of Las Cruces, N.M., also embraced a huge challenge, because Cotto is notably better, even at 32, than anyone Trout has fought during his seven-year pro career.
“They mentioned they were in Panama and beat a Panamanian guy, they were in Guadalajara and beat Rigoberto Alvarez,” Cotto said. “Now they’re in New York and they’re not going to have any of them in front of them. They’re going to have Miguel Cotto and the story’s going to be different.”