By Thomas Gerbasi
Austin Trout didn’t mind being one of the elder statesmen on the dais during the press conference to announce his Oct. 14 bout with Jarrett Hurd at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Among the six junior middleweights in attendance that day, only Erislandy Lara, at 34, was older than the 32-year-old Trout, who noticed the fire in the eyes of the young guns – Hurd and Jermell Charlo (27), Erickson Lubin (22) and Terrell Gausha (30) – that surrounded him.
“I see that in a lot of these guys' eyes - I do see that hunger,” he said. “They don't look hungrier than me, though. (Laughs) I don't know what it is. But I do see that these guys are here to not just make a name, but a legacy for themselves as well. But it ain't gonna be at my expense.”
None may have that fire burning more than Trout, who went from being the classic “high risk, low reward” southpaw to becoming a world champion and then a perennial contender at 154 pounds over the last 12 years. Now, the big fights are a given for “No Doubt,” who has shared the ring with the likes of Miguel Cotto, “Canelo” Alvarez, Lara and Jermall Charlo.
“It's a blessing, especially me having three losses under my belt,” said Trout, 30-3 with 17 KOs. “Granted, those losses were against the top guys in the game and two of them were controversial. Even with that, they try to write you off, and the fact that they brought me back as one of the top guys in this game, it confirms what I already knew.”
There were those that believed Trout’s defeats to Alvarez and Charlo were closer than the judges had them, and when you toss in his career-defining victory over Cotto in 2012, there’s no surprise that the New Mexico native stayed in the title mix at 154 pounds. Add in wins in four of his last five bouts, and a meeting with the talented and unbeaten Hurd was a natural. Yet while many see this as Hurd’s coming out party, Trout’s more than eager to crash that party and take his opponent’s IBF title.
“The thing about experience is, you can't fake it, and you can tell when it's real or not,” he said. “It's something you can't explain. It's almost like the ‘it’ factor. You can't weigh it, so in a fight like this where physically, we match up pretty well, it might be that extra ‘umph’ that puts you over.”
The 20-0 Hurd, who has stopped his last six opponents, including Tony Harrison, Jo Jo Dan, Oscar Molina and Frank Galarza, is a star on the rise, but Trout has been to the mountaintop. He’s won the big fights, lost a couple, and he’s battled the best of his weight class. And after coming up the hard way, he’s got a mental toughness that’s hard to break.
“I've always been a very strong-minded person,” he said. “I've never had problems with my mind breaking and that strong mentality has helped that. Plus I have good handlers - Al Haymon has helped me and my Bob Spagnola has been with me since the beginning. They legitimately care for my well-being. You see my circle, it's small and we like to keep it that way. You get too many influences, they might pull you in the wrong direction and my people have me going the right way and I think that's what helps my longevity.”
It’s clear that Trout is still all-in when it comes to his fight career and, at 32, the best may be yet to come. But there are still tests to be passed. So I asked Trout about the $40 million lawsuit he filed against the WBO in August, claiming that the sanctioning body violated the Ali Act. What if the WBO showed up with a $40 million check, saying, “Yeah, Austin, you were right, here’s the money.”? Would Trout still show up on Oct. 14?
He smiles from ear to ear.
“Absolutely. I've never been in this necessarily just for the money. I've always been in this for legacy. I want to be one of the greats. I want to be talked about, even if it's just for this time. That would be a win for me. So I would definitely show up and I wouldn't even touch the money because I still gotta stay hungry.”