By Ryan Maquiñana
WBA “regular” junior middleweight Austin Trout is tired of being the last one picked to dance.
While the 154-pound division’s rank-and-file select their opponents, the 26-year-old representing Las Cruces, N.M., is wondering when someone will agree to fight him. After all, he’s got a title belt.
It’s not like he’s kept a vow of silence. According to manager Bob Spagnola, he’s made overtures to anyone with two fists and a name to fight his client, but to no avail.
And the record (24-0, 14 KOs) speaks for itself. An army brat who bounced around from place to place growing up, Trout has seemingly taken a similar path as a pro, traveling to Mexico (three times), Canada, and Panama as the opponent, escaping unscathed each time.
Trout spoke with BoxingScene.com to get his thoughts about a proposed fight with Delvin Rodriguez, why he feels he’s underrated, and Erislandy Lara’s recent disparaging comments about him.
BoxingScene.com: You’re coming off a stoppage of Frank LoPorto on ShoBox. Some critics like to downgrade it because LoPorto wasn’t highly regarded coming into the fight, but how did it feel to finally get your debut on premium cable?
Austin Trout: It was wonderful to get that shot on premium cable. I’ve been under the radar so long, and just getting—I wouldn’t say buzz—but definitely curiosity about who I am, it was a great opportunity to show people what I could do. It’s not like we asked for LoPorto, but that’s how it played out, and I did what I had to do.
BoxingScene.com: You have basically been the forgotten man when it comes to getting a shot on HBO or Showtime Championship Boxing. There are the obvious reasons, but why do you personally think you haven’t gotten that opportunity just yet?
Trout: Premium cable TV gives almost all the dates to one or two major promoters. Not being with them and trying to get on TV is tough because you’ve got to fight their guy. Knowing that you can beat their guy, they’d rather not put you on. It’s the ugly side of boxing. It’s not because I don’t deserve it. It’s politics. Until then, it’s been tough to get that exposure.
BoxingScene.com: Why should the fans care about Austin Trout locking horns with the best of the 154-pounders? Tell them about what you bring to the table in what is becoming an interesting division.
Trout: I’m real smooth. I have defense but I incorporate offense into my defense. I throw a lot of punches. I don’t like to run. I like to use a lot of angles. I’m a very good champion. I’ll fight anywhere anytime and it shows. I’ve fought in Panama. I’ve fought in Mexico a couple times. The fans love me, but the promoters don’t too much. (Laughs)
BoxingScene.com: Going on the road like that to win and then defend your title is not an easy task. Have you had any issues outside the ring during your trips to foreign nations to fight?
Trout: When we go on the road, we take that to heart. We inspect the kitchen. We’ll have phantom orders. We’ll have three different orders to see if they mess up my dish. We haven’t had any issues with food poisoning, but a couple fans have threatened my life. For the most part, though, the fans are great.
BoxingScene.com: In a recent interview on our site Erislandy Lara told David “Los Gatos” Rosenberg that you were a fraud and various obscenities. Would you like to respond?
Trout: Erislandy Lara used some really harsh words to talk about me in his last interview, maybe because I haven’t been giving him much attention. Really, the last time he was talking, we went up to him and said to make an offer, and that’s when the talking stopped. He talks a lot until it gets to negotiations, and then he’s all quiet.
It’s funny when he says he’ll give me a shot. He’s got it all wrong. I give him a shot when I feel like it. I’m the champion. He’s been on TV six or seven times, and that’s when I told him to fight, and his team was quiet. Tell him to get in the rankings, and then we’ll talk about it.
BoxingScene.com: Another fighter in your division you’ve wanted to fight is Carlos Molina, but he’s now signed for Jan. 28 against James Kirkland.
Trout: Speaking of Molina, Lara did lose to Molina on ESPN. For the record, maybe he should beat Molina first before I look his way. Molina deserves a shot before he does.
BoxingScene.com: Kirkland bounced back from a shocking loss to Nobuhiro Ishida, and once upon a time, you were supposed to fight him for the interim WBA title. What happened there?
Trout: I was the mandatory for Ishida for a year, but Rigoberto [Alvarez] got to fight him first. I was supposed to get him first. I beat up Rigoberto, and then Ishida beat up on Kirkland. Now Kirkland is the money man, and I get no credit. Anyway, I’d like to fast forward and get Kirkland now. I definitely think I can knock him out.
BoxingScene.com: Right, but he’s tied up with Molina now.
Trout: That was supposed to be me and Kirkland on the 28th, but I don’t knock his career choice. He wants to stay undefeated a little longer. Molina’s tough though. He’s got the heart, but I don’t know if he has the power to keep Kirkland off him.
BoxingScene.com: Of course, any discussion that involves you must involve Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, the WBC champ who called you out for a unification fight when you beat Rigoberto, his brother. Has it gone past that stage at all, and do you want that fight?
Trout: Yeah, of course, but I haven’t heard anything from their people. People say belts don’t mean anything like they used to, but I’m using this belt as a loudspeaker to call anyone out. I need this fight more than I need this belt, so putting it up is not a big deal for me.
BoxingScene.com: One by one, your peers are finding opponents, and the recent talk has centered on you defending against Delvin Rodriguez, who defeated Pawel Wolak in their rematch. What do you think about a matchup with him?
Trout: I would love to get in with him. He’s coming off a great win against Wolak, and I’ll give him a shot if he wants to. We’ve reached out to his team the past few days, and they haven’t said no yet, so it’s still a possibility.
BoxingScene.com: It’s a longshot that Miguel Cotto will defend the WBA super champion belt, but what’s the status of that as far as him having to technically defend it against the “regular” champion, which is you in this instance?
Trout: Miguel Cotto has to defend his WBA super belt against me in his next fight or give it up, but he’s probably going to give it up before fighting me. They’re already talking about fighting [middleweight titlist Julio Cesar] Chavez [Jr.], maybe for his WBC middleweight belt, but it can’t be for Miguel’s belt.
BoxingScene.com: Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?
Trout: Thank you to the fans for everything, and for all the support. I’m always looking forward. I’m trying to put Las Cruces on the map as far as the boxing world is concerned. I’m not going to be quiet until the powers that be put me on.
Ryan Maquiñana is the boxing correspondent at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America, and Ring Magazine’s Ratings Advisory Panel. E-mail him at [email protected], check out his blog at www.maqdown.com or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.