Junior middleweight Austin Trout says that his opponent Saturday night, Erislandy Lara, lacks both, and Lara, in turn, says that those two elements will determine which of the fighters will be victorious in their southpaw clash at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Showtime.
Lara (18-1-2, 12 KOs) rose from knockdowns in the fourth and ninth rounds of his last bout to score a 10th-round stoppage of Alfredo Angulo in June, which had followed a disputed draw with Vanes Martirosyan in November of 2012.
Trout (26-1, 14 KOs) was floored in the seventh round of his last fight, a unanimous decision loss to Canelo Alvarez in April.
But in returning to the New York City area, Trout is back where, on Dec. 1 of 2012, he scored a unanimous decision over Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden. That career high was followed by the low of falling to Alvarez.
Like Trout, Lara’s return to the East Coast means he is coming back to the site of one of his best performances, a majority-decision loss against former two-time welterweight titleholder Paul Williams in 2011, which many ringsiders and boxing insiders thought Lara had won.
Below, RingTV.com polled 12 boxing insiders as to what will transpire between Trout and Lara, who have engaged in a bitter war of words in advance of their matchup.
Erislandy Lara UD 12 Austin Trout: Erislandy Lara is something of an enigma. His skill is always evident, but it lacks a finishing touch. Still, Lara’s many years as one of Cuba’s most accomplished amateurs gave him an education in how to score.
Lara will do that against Austin Trout with instinct and punches that the judges notice. And favor. Trout will be there in the end. Trout is slick enough to stay away from the power in Lara’s left hand. But that won’t be enough to overcome Lara’s advantage in a victory that will keep the Cuban in line at the 154-pound division’s pay window.
Record: 27-9 [Kovalev KO 6 Sillakh]
Erislandy Lara W 12 Austin Trout: On paper, this looks like a very close fight. In the ring, I don’t think it will play out that way. Erislandy Lara is one of the best southpaw boxer-punchers in the world even if he doesn’t always look like one.
Lara’s 2011 domination of Paul Williams earned him a great deal of respect from fans even though he got a raw deal from the judges. Lara also showed recently against Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo that he can handle adversity and come back to win with one well-placed punch like the dominant Alpha Dog that he truly is.
In Austin Trout, Lara will be facing a clever lefty but one without much pop in his punches. If Trout can’t hurt Lara or slow him down with his offense, there will be little to stop the talented Cuban from dictating the tempo with his superior skills and more aggressive attack.
Unfortunately for him, Trout is earning a reputation as a B-side fighter and rare is the supporting act who upsets the Al Haymon applecart. Lara wins by unanimous decision and solidifies his claim as the best junior middleweight titlist not named Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Record: 23-10 [Kovalev TKO 6 Sillakh]
Austin Trout UD 12 Erislandy Lara: I think Austin Trout will win this all-southpaw collision, but it won’t be easy.
Erislandy Lara is fiercely determined and full of fight, but I think the American will keep his shape, stay composed and land the more precise work.
A lot will depend on Trout’s mental strength after his first loss to Canelo Alvarez, but I think he’s set to rebound in style.
Record: 16-9 [Kovalev TKO 5 Sillakh]
Erislandy Lara UD 12 Austin Trout: It’s another one of those fights that could come down to a coin flip as both display impressive boxing skills. However, Erislandy Lara seems to me like a more difficult puzzle to figure out.
Austin Trout has been impressive when it comes to out-thinking his foes, but Lara is one of those fighters that needs someone very special to pull him out of his shell. I just don’t think Trout will have the patience over the course of 12 rounds to capitalize on the very slim gap that Lara allows his opponents to take advantage.
The difference here will be which one of these two educated Southpaw’s will be able to impress the judges over the course of 36 minutes. For that reason, I have to side with Lara, who looks more impressive when winning a round than Trout.
Trout needs this a little more, considering the loss to Canelo Alvarez, which may force him to make more mistakes and allow Lara to scrape by with a unanimous decision.
Record: 13-1 [Kovalev TKO 9 Sillakh]
Austin Trout SD 12 Erislandy Lara: This 12-rounder between skilled southpaws in their physical primes could go either way. Erislandy Lara looked sensational in his last fight against another left-handed opponent, but was robbed of the unanimous-decision win he deserved over Paul Williams.
Austin Trout isn’t nearly as easy to hit as Williams was, but Trout also will find it difficult to out-box the crafty Cuban. Unlike Lara, Trout hasn’t demonstrated he can out-maneuver another top southpaw, but he’ll do just enough to earn a narrow win and reclaim an interim version of the title he lost to Canelo Alvarez.
Record: 22-6 [Kovalev KO 5 Sillakh]
Rich Marotta, KFI Radio, Los Angeles
Erislandy Lara is a mover and boxer. Austin Trout is patient and while he can hit some, is certainly not a huge banger. Trout was impressive in his defeat to Canelo. I think his better power will give him a slight edge in a distance fight.
Record: 22-11 [Pacquiao UD 12 Rios]
Austin Trout SD12 Erislandy Lara: In this 50-50 matchup between outstanding counter-punching southpaws, the question I have is which fighter plans to lead.
I think the answer is Austin Trout, who will be rewarded on the scorecards against Erislandy Lara for displaying the more copious aggression as the judges look for anything to distinguish the fighters after 12 close rounds.
Record: 18-8 [Pacquiao W 12 Rios]
Erislandy Lara W 12 Austin Trout: This is a difficult pick. Erislandy Lara and Austin Trout are both skilled fighters. Lara showed some chops in his fight with Alfredo Angulo. He’s crafty and can use angles.
Trout defeated Miguel Cotto, but lost to Saul Alvarez in his last bout. The loss to Alvarez will motivate Trout to be at his best on December 7.
The key to this contest is quickness. Lara has the faster hands and feet. I think he’ll do just enough to win a razor close decision.
Record: 15-5 [Kovalev TKO 10 Sillakh]
Erislandy Lara W 12 Austin Trout: Austin Trout throws more than Erislandy Lara, but the Cuban is more precise and hits harder. Lara should be able to counter Trout effectively and snare enough of what could be many close rounds.
Record: 25-9 [Kovalev KO Sillakh]
Erislandy Lara UD 12 Austin Trout: Erislandy Lara and Austin Trout are two of the most competent boxers in the 154 pound class. They both show patience, both are southpaws and when you miss, they make you pay for your mistakes.
However, Lara shows a favorable left power hand and is more adept in terms of solving problems inside the ring. But also lacks character when not motivated.
Trout is not as innovative as Lara in terms of skills. But Trout is equally strong and may expose Lara if Lara is not active enough or inspired.
Lare and Trout will propel themselves to the highest boxing order and showcase a considerable amount of guile and heart. Lara will simply be the more improved fighter of the two and take away a close but unanimous decision.
Record: 6-2 [Kovalev KO 7 Sillakh]
Austin Trout W 12 Erislandy Lara: A meeting of slick southpaw’s isn’t usually a cause to rejoice, but this seems to be an interesting cross- roads fight that neither can afford to lose.
The winner will be well-placed, having won the vacant WBA title, while the loser wont be on anyone’s list of prospective future opponents. These two are the kind of fighters nobody wants to fight, and if they don’t have a title, why would they?
Record: 16-7 [Kovalev KO Sillakh]
Abe Wiggington, guest/fan, Houston, Texas
Though with Floyd Mayweather Jr. expecting to make his decision shortly on a fight, if Floyd is not going to fight Manny Pacquiao or Gennady Golovkin, I would like to see him in with Trout or Lara would instead of Amir Khan.
There is no love lost between these two. According to Ronnie Shields, Lara’s trainer, they hate each other. Both guys are very talented and will give each other problems.
Shields has mentioned that Lara likes to go for the KO and does not pay attention to the counter punch. Lara rose from two knockdowns to stop Alfredo Angulo. Trout is coming off a loss to Canelo Alvarez. I have the fight being a draw.
By the slim score of 6-5-1, the experts give the edge to Erislandy Lara to win Saturday’s junior middleweight clash of southpaw over Austin Trout.
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com