Five keys for Austin Trout
Plotting a path to victory in Friday's junior middleweight bout with Daniel Dawson
Former junior middleweight world titlist Austin Trout returns to the ring Friday, looking to put a difficult 2013 behind him.
Trout (26-2, 14 KOs), who reached the highest of highs with his December 2012 victory over Miguel Cotto, suffered a pair of defeats in the last 12 months against two of the best fighters in the division: Canelo Alvarez and Erislandy Lara.
The native of Las Cruces, New Mexico, will headline the season finale of ESPN's "Friday Night Fights" in a 12-round bout against former title challenger Daniel Dawson (40-3-1, 26 KOs) of Australia at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California (ESPN2; WatchESPN, 9 p.m. ET).
If Trout, 28, looks to return to the title picture at 154 pounds with a victory, he should consider these keys to victory:
Establish the jab
|Although not known as a power puncher, Trout has good size for a junior middleweight and a long reach. Because of that, the undisputed key to his success in recent years has been his big jab. Trout looks to set up his two and three-punch combinations with his jab and will likely need it to ward off the advances of the aggressive Dawson. If he can get off first with his jab and control distance, Trout will have his best chance to control the tempo and execute his plan.
Fight your fight
|Trout has been very candid about the things he did wrong in his one-sided defeat to Lara last December. By coming in with a game plan built upon aggressive pressure, Trout played directly into Lara's hands and was routinely countered with clean, stinging left hands. Trout was the first one to admit after the loss that he attempted to be something inside the ring that he wasn't. Staying true to his true style against Dawson as a tricky counter fighter who times his combinations appropriately will be a major key.
Build an exit strategy
|Trout is not the kind of fighter with enough pop to end the fight with one punch in the early rounds. But he's an accurate puncher who can wear opponents down with a series of clean left hands, as he did to Cotto in the late rounds of their 2012 bout. Although Dawson has proved to be a durable fighter throughout his career, he hasn't fought an opponent of Trout's class in over four years. If Trout starts early by setting Dawson up for the later rounds, he may find himself in position to score his first victory by stoppage since 2011.
|As he showed against Cotto, Trout is at his best when he's controlling distance and using his reach to score from the outside. Despite being the shorter fighter on Friday, Trout will enter the fight with nearly three inches of advantage in reach. One of Trout's favorite weapons is the step jab to the body, which routinely causes his opponent to reset. Trout was very successful in this regard in the early rounds against Alvarez, when he put points in the bank by going downstairs and used his footwork to retreat from any counter fire.
Be bold; but don't force it
|Trout has plenty of motivation to want to make a statement against Dawson. After announcing himself as a real player in the division with his victory over Cotto, he saw his stock slip considerably after two defeats that followed. Fighting on a large showcase with a chance to reinstate his status as a title contender should bring out the best in Trout. While he should look to impress considering the platform, Trout needs to make sure he stays within his own limitations to avoid being surprised.
MORE BOXING HEADLINES
- Arum: Pacquiao-Mayweather fight imminent
- Luis takes it to Dargan, scores decision win
- Former heavyweight promoter Kushner dies
- McCain: Time to talk legalizing sports betting
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
- Bernardo Osuna retweeted
- Brian Campbell retweeted
- Brian Campbell retweeted