By Rick Reeno
The stage is set for a high-stakes junior middleweight showdown on December 1st at New York's Madison Square Garden.
Former three division champion Miguel Cotto (37-3, 30KOs), returning for the first time since the May defeat to Floyd Mayweather Jr., will challenge unbeaten WBA "regular" beltholder Austin Trout (25-0, 14KOs).
Cotto will have the home-field advantage by facing Trout at New York's Madison Square Garden.
Trout captured the vacant WBA title last February in Guadalajara, with a dominating twelve round decision over Rigoberto Alvarez, the older brother of Mexican superstar Saul "Canelo" Alvarez.
Since the title win, Trout secured three more one-sided victories over David Lopez, Frank LoPorto and Delvin Rodriguez.
"It's what we've been waiting for. It's a breakthrough opportunity. You know Austin, I've never had more confidence in any fighter that I've ever been involved with. This kid seizes the moment. Some guys get the chance on the big stage and they find a way not to win. Austin is the opposite," said Greg Cohen, the promoter of Trout.
"He won his title against Canelo's brother in their hometown of Guadalajara with the crowd screaming and going bananas. A very hostile environment. Austin embraced the moment. He won eleven out of twelve rounds. This is going to be no different. This kid thrives on these types of situations. December 1st can't come quick enough for him."
Cohen tells BoxingScene.com that a win over Cotto will be Trout's coming out party as far as being mentioned among the elite boxers in the world.
"This is what a kid like Austin waited for his whole life. The top three guys in the sport of boxing - Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto - if you beat any one of those three guys you elevate your status. Austin is going to do that. He's going to go in there, do what we all think that he can do. He's going to beat Miguel Cotto and become the next superstar," Cohen said.
"I just think Austin is a younger fighter, a hungrier fighter, he's very fast and I just think Austin will give anybody problems. I'm not saying this because I'm Austin's promoter. I'm not saying this because I'm biased. I honestly believe Austin Trout is on the level of a Floyd Mayweather in terms of his boxing ability. I think Austin will pose a problem for anybody who is the ring with him. I think he can beat anybody."
Cotto is undefeated in Madison Square Garden. All three of his career defeats have taken place in Las Vegas. One of those defeats, against Antonio Margarito, was avenged last year December in MSG. The closest Cotto ever came to tasting defeat at MSG was in 2009, when he fought his way to a split decision win over Joshua Clottey.
Even with Cotto's impressive record at MSG, Cohen is not worried about Trout's ability to walk away with a high profile win.
"I believe the crowd is certainly going to be 99% for Cotto. And I believe it will be a difficult environment. But I think style wise, Austin will probably have the opportunity to clearly win many rounds in this fight. Cotto is a guy who doesn't stop coming. He will be coming at Austin all night. He won't have to be looking for him. And when a guy comes at Austin, that's when Austin is at his best. I'm not worried about the judges. I'm not worried about any external forces here," Cohen said.
"I did have Austin fight Canelo's brother, on a Canelo Promotions card in Guadalajara, Mexico - and Rigoberto was the champion and Austin was the challenger - and Austin won eleven out of twelve rounds on all three judges cards. We've had good experiences in hostile environments."