By Jake Donovan
The thought of pulling out of this weekend’s fight against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez never once crossed the mind of Austin Trout. The unbeaten southpaw has grown accustomed to having the deck stacked against him, just as the boxing community has grown accustomed to major fights in Texas being plagued with controversy.
A promise for fairly proportioned officiating panel never came to fruition, as the WBC – who claims Alvarez (41-0-1, 30KO) as its 154 lb titlist - will claim three of the four officials for Saturday’s 154 lb. unification bout in San Antonio.
The WBA – who recognizes Trout (26-0, 14KO) as its champ – will be represented at ringside only by Stanley Christoldoulou, a veteran ring official from South Africa.
“I'm not worried about the officials or the judging,” Trout noted during a mid-week pre-fight press conference. “I'm not worried about being in a hostile territory. All I can worry about is the opponent that I have in the ring.”
His handlers weren’t quite as cordial when first learning of the news, but have since calmed down and look forward to once again overcoming the odds.
“It’s simple math – two plus two equals four. You have four officials, we were led to believe two each would come from the WBC and the WBA,” stated co-manager Bob Spagnola, who has guided Trout’s career from the beginning. “Instead, we have three officials from the WBC and one from the WBA.”
The incident is just the latest in a long and growing list of everything that has become wrong with boxing in Texas, a sad commentary considering that its rich tradition with the sport. Saturday’s event will take place in front of a sold out crowd of more than 38,000 boxing enthusiasts, which speaks both to the popularity of Alvarez and boxing as a culture in the Lone Star State.
What fans can only hope for is a night free of controversy, though sadly would serve as an exception. From absent drug tests to horribly inept scoring and refereeing, the post-fight commentary from Texas always seems to discuss other than the actual fighting itself.
Further adding to the concern is WBC President Jose Sulaiman going on record to guarantee (in the form of a prediction) an Alvarez victory.
Given the history and the most recent circumstances, it would have been understandable for Trout and his team to take a firm stance on the subject. Instead, the plan is to simply settle all differences in the ring.
“Of course, we’re still going to fight,” comments Spagnola. “Austin is a fighter. We all know that. Austin is a real fighter and, God willing, it won't be close.”
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: @JakeNDaBoxTags: Saul Alvarez , Austin Trout , Canelo-Trout , Canelo vs Trout