By Thomas Gerbasi
Faith is a big part of Austin Trout’s life. When that’s the case, sometimes you may not understand why something happens in your life or why prayers go unanswered. But if that’s what you believe, you carry on. So when asked about the two consecutive losses that first cost him his world junior middleweight title and then an opportunity to win it back, and how he was able to accept both with class and humility, he knows the source.
“There’s a prayer that I pray, and I don’t even like praying it,” Trout said. “It’s like ‘God, if it’s not your will for me to win, help me accept that.’ For 26 fights it was his will for me to win, and for the last two it wasn’t, and so I wanted to be able to accept my loss the same way I accept my wins. I don’t sit there and complain and make excuses when I win, and I want to go out losing the same way.”
That’s not the way it goes in boxing though. In this sport, you can see someone get knocked out and still insist that he got robbed by the referee, and no one bats an eye. It’s seemingly part of the game. So when talking about his 2013 decision losses to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Erislandy Lara, it’s certainly unique to hear a top-level fighter simply say that he lost. Sure, there were things going on in his life that distracted him between the two fights, but all he’ll say about it is “I should have taken more time.”
The Alvarez bout, which came on the heels of his 2012 drubbing of Miguel Cotto, was a good fight and a competitive one. The Lara one? It just didn’t look like Trout in there, and he knows it.
“He (Lara) is a guy you’ve got to focus on and you really got to be on your A game to beat him,” Trout said. “My mind wasn’t in it, my heart wasn’t in it – I trained hard for the fight, and that’s what’s really heartbreaking for me because I trained so hard for that fight and there was really nothing I could have done physically more to prepare for that fight. But when your mind’s not in it, you’re already beat.”
Eight months later, Trout is back, facing Daniel Dawson on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights in Temecula, California. It’s a nice return against a quality foe on national television, but he does admit that the rest he had after the Lara fight was a nice one.
“I did need the time off,” he said. “It was kind of bittersweet because I don’t like this whole fighting two times a year thing and I feel like it’s never allowed me to get to my potential of how sharp I really can be. The busier I am, the sharper I get. But coming off the two losses, really when I came off the Canelo loss I should have taken more time. People think that was a lot of time (from April to December), but not only did I have to deal with the loss, but I got married, I had a honeymoon, I had to deal with the loss of my grandmother, had to deal with the litigation (with his now ex-promoter Greg Cohen), so there was a lot in between that.”
Absence does make the heart grow fonder though, and by the time the summer began, he was ready to put the gloves back on.
“I’ve had the itch,” Trout laughs. “I’ve wanted to fight since July, but God knows what he’s doing, and this time off has been good because I got at peace with my Grandma, and I got my family life together with my kids and wife, and it was good. I’m in a good place and I’m back feeling like my old undefeated self. In the gym I’ve been working on my fluidity, and instead of forcing a lot of shots and opportunities like I’ve been doing my last two fights, we’re creating these opportunities.”
And there’s no opportunity bigger than tonight’s fight against someone who can make a name for himself with one huge upset.
“He (Dawson) is a fighter that’s very hungry, which makes any fighter dangerous,” Trout said. “He’s got the will to win, the heart that’s necessary to win, and I’m in no way taking him lightly. I trained really hard for this fight, and in my opinion, I’m more dangerous because I have everything to lose and everything to gain, where he has nothing to lose and everything to gain. And I’m gonna fight my tail off to make sure that I gain everything back and don’t lose anything with this fight.”
If he does get the win, the 28-year-old from Las Cruces, New Mexico would definitely like to fight again before the year is out, and then in 2015, it’s back in the title hunt. But first, he’s got to deal with Dawson, and he’s ready for that task.
“It’s me or him, and it damn sure ain’t about to be me.”