Michael Rosenthal

Weekend Review: Trout season

BIGGEST WINNER

Austin Trout: Trout had to be salivating since the day he signed to fight Cotto, a smaller, slower and older opponent with the name recognition to give his career an enormous boost. True to form, Trout (26-0, 14 knockouts) overwhelmed Cotto (37-4, 30 KOs) with his length and impressive boxing ability – as well as his southpaw stance – to win a one-sided decision and enhance his stature immeasurably, leaving him in position for some big-money fights in the near future. I don’t think Trout has the power or fighting spirit to become a special fighter; frankly, he can be boring to watch. At the same time, one might compare him to a prime Winky Wright, another slick lefty who gave virtually everyone he fought all kinds of problems. I’m not sure many elite fighters are going to want to risk facing him, which is both a compliment and a curse.

 

BIGGEST LOSER

Miguel Cotto: I’ll never understand why a fighter as sharp as Cotto decided to fight Trout, who clearly posed too much risk for too little gain. I thought Cotto would find a way to overcome Trout’s advantages because of his own ability and experience but it was a bad matchup for the Puerto Rican, meaning it was destined to be a very difficult fight from the beginning. Plus, a victory over Trout wouldn’t have meant much because Trout wasn’t well known going into the fight. I feel I should applaud Cotto for taking the risk; so few fighters are willing test themselves unless an enormous amount of money is on the line. However, from a business standpoint, it just didn’t make sense. I think Cotto, at only 32, can still beat elite opponents. He just needs to choose them more carefully to give himself a good chance of having his hand raised.

 

WORST MATCHUP

Trout vs. Canelo Alvarez: I think Alvarez would be crazy to take this fight for similar reasons that Cotto shouldn’t have taken it. Yes, Alvarez is bigger, faster and more powerful than Cotto. He’s also not as skillful and less experienced. I can see Trout baffling him with his speed and movement and running away with a clear decision victory. I like an Alvarez-Cotto matchup better. It lost some of its luster because of Cotto’s performance on Saturday. Still, he will be seen as a legitimate test of the young Mexican. And I think he’d put up a good fight because he matches up better with Alvarez than Trout, who is more skillful and quicker than his counterpart. On the downside for Cotto, Alvarez punches a lot harder than Trout does. It’s not difficult to imagine Alvarez ending Cotto’s career with a brutal knockout. Stay tuned.

 

MOST MEANINGLESS

Trout’s title: Sorry but I have to do this periodically. If you consider the WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO major world titles, then there are at least 68 sanctioning-body titleholders. The fact the WBA has added what it calls “regular” champions contributes to that absurd number, diluting the belts to the point where they have lost much of their significance. Trout is the WBA “regular” 154-pound titleholder, meaning he’s the second best in the division (behind “super champion” Floyd Mayweather Jr.), according to the sanctioning body. Still, WBA officials want you to consider Trout a “world champion.” You can; I won’t. Why does the WBA do it? Greed. Fighters must pay to fight for “championships,” meaning the more titles, the more money the WBA makes. OK, boxing is a business; I get it. This is ridiculous, though. And the fact so many people buy into it is insane.

 

MOST CONTROVERSIAL

Freddie Flintoff: Flintoff is a former cricket player and a celebrity in the U.K. who decided to take up boxing at 34 even though he had no previous experience. The 6-foot-4 heavyweight reportedly trained hard with Hall of Famer Barry McGuigan over the past few months, sparring 300 rounds, to prepare for his pro debut against a raw American named Richard Dawson on Friday at the Manchester Arena, where Ricky Hatton’s career ended. Predictably, Flintoff  looked terrible and won a four-round decision. The event created quite a buzz in the U.K., some reveling in the spectacle of a genteel athlete suddenly engaging in warfare while others suggested he was mocking boxing. One complaint is that he took attention away from heavyweight contender David Price, who fought the same night. I say give the guy a pass. He apparently missed the competition and wanted to see what he could do in the ring. Now he knows. A bit of advice to him, though: Quit while you’re ahead. This is a very dangerous sport.

 

RABBIT PUNCHES

The U.K.’s two promising heavyweights did well over the weekend. Price (15-0, 13 KOs) stopped 45-year-old Matt Skelton (28-7, 23 KOs) in the second round on Friday in Liverpool, his ninth consecutive knockout. Tyson Fury (20-0, 14 KOs) nearly shut out former contender Kevin Johnson (28-3-1, 13 KOs) on Saturday in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Will they fight each other? Or will one opt to take the money and face a Klitschko? My money is on the latter. … Danny Jacobs (24-1, 21 KOs) continued his comeback from life-threatening cancer by stopping journeyman Chris Fitzpatrick (15-3, 6 KOs) after five rounds on the Trout-Cotto undercard. Jacobs was out about 19 months after surgery to remove a tumor from his spine. It’s wonderful to see one of the nicest people in boxing back in the ring. … Jayson Velez (20-0, 15) stopped Salvador Sanchez (30-5-3, 18 KOs) in three rounds on the Trout-Cotto card. Velez looks like a fine prospect, skillful, quick, strong. Sanchez is the nephew of the Hall of Famer of the same name. … Former lightweight titleholder Paul Spadafora (47-0-1, 19 KOs) outpointed Solomon Egberime (22-4-1, 11 KOs) on Saturday in Chester, W.Va., possibly his most significant victory since returning from legal and substance-abuse problems. Spadafora, 37, hasn’t faced an elite opponent since he drew with Leonard Dorin in a title-unification bout in 2003. … Great news about back-to-back fight cards on network TV in a few weeks. Golden Boy Promotions and Showtime announced that Leo Santa Cruz, one of the most-exciting young fighters in the world, will headline a card on CBS on Dec. 15. Then, on Dec. 22, Tomasz Adamek and Steve Cunningham will face off in a compelling heavyweight fight on NBC. Reminds me of the good ‘ol days, when you could watch world-class fights on free channels all the time.

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