Five keys for Austin Trout
Plotting a path to victory against Miguel Cotto
Austin Trout (25-0, 14 KO) will defend his junior middleweight title against Puerto Rico's Miguel Cotto on Saturday in New York (Showtime, 10 p.m. ET).
Born in Las Cruces, N.M., Trout is a lesser-known champion who has yet to face any of the bigger names in his division. Still, he's considered a solid fighter, one who possesses good technique and height. Fighting Cotto (37-3, 30 KO) will be the most important moment of his career to date, and he'll surely be motivated to fight on the big stage of Madison Square Garden and legitimize his belt against an icon.
Here are five keys for Trout against Cotto:
Reach and jab
|Trout will have to use his natural advantages -- his height (5-foot-9½) and reach (72 inches) -- against a smaller opponent in Miguel Cotto (5-7), who for the first time in his career will be facing a legitimate junior middleweight. Trout should commit himself to establishing the jab early in the fight to set the pace the rest of the way.|
|Trout isn't the favorite, but that's good for him. He acknowledged in the prefight buildup being very motivated for his first bout against a world-class fighter. Sometimes when a low-profile fighter is liberated from the weight of expectations, his confidence actually grows -- and this should be the case for Trout. He's a predictable fighter, but if he follows a smart game plan, he can use the surprise factor to tilt the fight in his favor.|
Persona non grata
|Trout is defending the title in his opponent's house, where he will be harassed by a vocal Puerto Rican crowd. But he's no stranger to these situations. In 25 fights, he has been the local fighter only twice in his native Las Cruces. Trout twice fought for titles against Mexican fighters in Mexico, against David Alonso Lopez and Rigoberto Alvarez (Canelo's brother). He has also fought in Canada and Panama. It's a disadvantage for many fighters, but for Trout, being the visitor is a source of motivation.|
|In addition to the motivation he draws from facing a legend, Trout will be putting his future on the line Saturday. He has said it himself: A loss would be devastating. And that's why he will come out with teeth bared, aiming not only to win but to win big -- or by knockout. Cotto is essentially fighting at home, and we all know who gets the nod on the judge's cards in a close fight involving a hometown guy. Trout knows it, too.|
Punches in bunches
|Trout's style isn't all that pleasing to the eye, but he can be vexing. If he complicates things for Cotto early, his youth could become a deciding factor in the second half of the fight. Trout will have to establish his punching line with his jab, throw straight hands and volleys, always working from the middle of the ring. If he can pull it off, he will be facing an increasingly tired and frustrated opponent who will be ripe for the taking if Trout applies the right pressure and combinations.|
Bernardo Pilatti is a contributor to ESPNdeportes.com.
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