By Jake Donovan
Miguel Cotto has never lost before at Madison Square Garden – or anywhere in New York.
Austin Trout has never fought before at Madison Square Garden – or anywhere in New York.
Both statements mean about as much as the fact that prior to November 24, Ricky Hatton was undefeated in the U.K.
The more being, you still have to fight it out in the ring.
Cotto (37-3, 30KO) attempts to start a fifth title reign in a career spanning three weight classes. The Puerto Rican superstar enters on the heels of a competitive points loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. this past May. The loss ended a 154 lb. title which lasted nearly two years, including his revenge 10th round stoppage win over Antonio Margarito at the Garden exactly 52 weeks ago.
He enters Saturday’s fight as the challenger for the first time since facing then-unbeaten Yuri Foreman in June ’10 at Yankees Stadium in Bronx, NY. Cotto emerged victorious on that night, battering a mobile Foreman in nine rounds to claim a 154 lb. belt.
Trout (25-0, 14KO) attempts the fourth defense of the belt he won nearly two years ago on the road in Mexico. The 27-year old southpaw is no stranger to performing in hostile territory, winning big in Canada, Panama and Mexico long before taking a clear decision over Rigoberto Alvarez in Feb. ’11.
Saturday night marks his third straight appearance on Showtime, having also scored televised wins over Delvin Rodriguez and Frank LoPorto in his past two fights, with the LoPorto bout serving as a showcase in his birth town of El Paso, Texas. Prior to that fight, Trout won two straight in Mexico, winning a decision over David Lopez four months following the title win over Alvarez.
Does Trout have what it takes to overcome Cotto’s considerable hometown advantage to win at the Garden?
Does Cotto have one truly great performance left in him, or has the 32-year old seen the last of his championship days?
Which way does the Boxingscene.com staff lean?
Read on to find out…
PREDICTIONS – AUSTIN TROUT VS. MIGUEL COTTO
Austin Trout may be a good boxer with a good jab who has won on the road (Beating Saul Alvarez's brother in Mexico to win the vacant title) but going to MSG against a dramatic step up in class such as Miguel Cotto is a whole different animal. Cotto surprised a lot of people with his performance against Floyd Mayweather in May. While he lost the fight he hit Floyd more than he has been hit since the 1st Castillo fight. I expect Trout to have early success before Cotto figures him out and slowly breaks him down. Cotto by TKO in 10.
– Ryan Burton (Cotto)
With my pick, make sure to lay down cash betting against the opposite! That said, going against the grain a bit on this one. It will be tough for Trout to “just” win a decision in NYC against Cotto. I believe he’s aware of this and will truly rise to the occasion. Not to mention the fight now comes with the kiss of death – Golden Boy preparing a future fight (Saul Alvarez-Miguel Cotto being planned for next year) before the one in front of them is in the books. One day they’ll learn. Trout by SD.
– Jake Donovan (Trout)
Trout is a nice talent who's climbed the ladder successfully enough, but it's my guess he'll be surprised at the distance between his and the very top rung at 154. Cotto, even after a few losses, remains a resolute and skillful grinder who'll chip away at anything less than the highest level pound-for-pound foe. Trout doesn't pass that litmus, and, though he may indeed lead after six rounds, the guess is he won't be standing after 12. Cotto KO 10.
– Lyle Fitzsimmons (Cotto)
This is the classic veteran vs. up & comer. Many have counted Cotto out before only for him to comeback with great back to back performances (even in loss). Trout has not been overly impressive but can box tremendously. The key for Cotto will be to apply pressure and smother the younger Trout but if Trout can find his groove he can completely out box Cotto. I expect Trout to hit the deck earlier but work his way back only to lose a razor thin probably controversial split decision to Cotto.
- Tim Kudgis (Cotto)
Austin Trout W12 Miguel Cotto. While Miguel Cotto surprised most observers by giving Floyd Mayweather his toughest fight in years, I still believe his best days are behind him. Austin Trout is a tricky southpaw with the type of style that can disrupt Cotto's offensive gameplan. I think Trout takes a tactical affair.
- Ryan Maquiñana (Trout)
Trout is coming to fight. He is young, strong, and a champion. He's naturally larger than Cotto. He's also used to fighting on the home turf of his opponent. Those strengths will serve him well and make this a rough and tough fight, but it's unlikely they will guide him to victory. Cotto has too many advantages. He's been in championship fights for years on end. He's undefeated in New York and Madison Square Garden, where 20,000 Cotto faithful will be present to cheer him on. Cotto also handpicked Trout as the 154 pounder with a belt that he wanted to beat, thus giving him greater bargaining power for a fight with Saul Alvarez next May. There will be blood, and Cotto may have to swallow some of his own, but with a $10-15 million payday in the balance against Alvarez, I see Cotto bringing forth enough grit for a hard fought UD,
- Richard Najdowski (Cotto)
I started out, at the announcement of this fight leaning to Trout. The problem is, the closer it gets to fight time, it's hard to think of a single time Trout impressed against a single opponent who really measures up to what Cotto has done a) generally and b) at 154 lbs. I like Cotto to outjab Trout and score enough heavy stuff to pick up another alphabet strap. Cotto by decision.
– Cliff Rold (Cotto)
Cotto UD - While there's no doubt Austin Trout (pun intended) is preparing for this fight like never before, I still think Cotto's experience and skill set will be too much. Trout is making a huge leap in quality of opponent and while I think he gives Cotto some problems, Cotto will eventually begin to breakdown Trout late in the fight. Cotto has looked great under Pedro Diaz and I think we'll see another good performance.
- Luis Sandoval (Cotto)
I don't really believe in what I haven't seen much before. I have seen Trout fighting twice - against Frank LoPorto and against Delvin Rodriguez. Against Rodriguez he was hardly impressive but very effective, and LoPorto was too weak for the fight to matter something. So, Austin Trout is a USA Mystery Man. I don't think he has power to hurt Cotto, and his skills and speed aren't enough to outbox and to outsmart the four-time world champion. Cotto won't hurt him bad but his punch load will be a decisive factor in the fight. Cotto UD
– Alexey Sukachev (Cotto)
Total: Miguel Cotto 7, Austin Trout 2
The Trout-Cotto super welterweight title fight headlines live on Showtime from Madison Square Garden in New York City (Saturday, 9PM ET/6PM PT). The evening also features a 10-round middleweight bout between Daniel Jacobs and Chris Fitzpatrick, as well as a featherweight showdown between unbeaten Jayson Velez and fringe contender Salvador Sanchez II.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox