By Jake Donovan
Fighters like Austin Trout and Erislandy Lara are special breeds in that they both act upon claims of their willingness to take on all comers, when many others in and around the super welterweight division have avoided the two at all costs. In part, it would explain they’ve agreed to face each other on December 7 in Brooklyn, New York.
You would think from such similar bravery would come a common bond. However, their Showtime-televised bout, which serves as the co-feature to the all-Brooklyn clash between Zab Judah and Paul Malignaggi, has developed into a grudge match where they can’t seem – or don’t want – to agree on any given topic.
Both promise to carry the fight, while under the belief that the other will spend the duration of the bout on their bicycle. Neither seem to think very much of the other, beyond the obligatory appreciation for agreeing to the fight.
“The way it is today, it’s not necessarily the best fighting the best. We’re fighting each other because nobody wants to fight us,” Trout acknowledges of their upcoming vacant title fight.
The showdown with Lara marks his first piece of ring action since dropping a competitive decision to Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez this past April. Trout was forced to spend the next several months mired in legal battles with promoter Greg Cohen, from whom he would eventually split once the lawyers sorted out all lingering issues.
For his first fight back, he encounters an opponent who thinks has him pegged, but whom Trout insists is completely in the dark when it comes to reading a scouting report.
“[F]or him to say that I have no balls, tells me he’s never watched me before,” Trout (26-1, 14KO) believes. “This fight is all about dealing with the opportunities that come your way and I’m going to take advantage.”
Lara (18-1-2, 12KO) hasn’t fought since his off-the-canvas injury stoppage win over Alfredo Angulo this past June. A major upset was in the works as the usually slick Cuban was down twice and caught up in a war, before forcing Angulo into submission due to a grotesquely swollen left eye out of which he could no longer see.
The bout was the closest that Lara came to a loss since his only actual defeat, a controversial decision in favor of Paul Williams in their July ’11 encounter. Most had Lara winning comfortably that night, but he still views his official lone conqueror as his most dangerous opponent to date, or at least much better than the one in the on-deck circle.
Angulo was coming for him and Angulo was touching him. It was fight or flight. Him being a fighter, he fought some but he also ran. He did both and was able to beat him.
“Austin Trout is an OK fighter. He’s nothing special and I believe he’s on his way out,” Lara views of Trout. “He says I have no heart. He will find out in the ring.
“The difference between Austin Trout and Paul Williams is that Paul Williams had balls. He was a big southpaw who would come out and attack you. Austin Trout just knows how to run.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox