Austin Trout gauges the distance between winning and losing

Last time out, Austin Trout caught Luis Galarza with a right in the seventh round. It was a stiff shot with some mustard on it, and it sent Galarza bouncing from one side of the ropes to another. It looked like he got clobbered by the Hulk the way he turned into a human pinball.

Austin Trout and Erislandy Lara

Austin Trout tries to find the range during his loss to Erislandy Lara in December 2013.

Trout wasn’t buying it, however. He only caught Galarza on the shoulder, plus he wasn't wearing his purple pants.

“It was like I didn’t hit [him],” Austin Trout said about the May 9 fight in Hidalgo, Texas. “I thought he was trying to bait me, so I told myself, ‘I’m not going to rush into this.’ One thing I do need to work on is keeping my distance. I was getting anxious, getting smothered. If I chose my punches a little more carefully, I believe I could have gotten him out of there sooner.”

True, Galarza was on him in that fight, but Trout took his time and worked his way inside to gain a seventh-round stoppage. This is why distance, Trout said, is the most important technical aspect of boxing that’s wildly underrated by all but the most astute students of the sport.

“It’s very important to know the arm length, how tall a person is. Those stats there are super important physically. That’s why the jab is the most important punch in boxing,” Trout said. "The jab is to get the distance. If you can impose your distance on somebody and fight where you’re comfortable at, you can make the fight so much easier.”

Case in point was in one of Trout’s two losses, when he fought Cuban technical wizard Erislandy Lara in December 2013. Fighters don’t usually have a tough time naming their favorite tilt. Trout doesn’t hesitate a millisecond to name this one his least favorite, like the thing was made of broccoli, DMV lines and that “Rude” song.

It’s Lara’s absolute command of the distance game that made it a long night for Trout.

“Lara, even through he’s a couple inches shorter than me, he’s got a long reach,” Trout said. And it’s true. Despite Trout being half an inch taller, Lara has a two-inch reach advantage.

“He’ll just sit back and sit back and as soon as you’re in range, he lets that arm go. He’s a master at distance and ring control. I don’t know what they’re doing over there in Cuba, but that Cuban school of boxing, they drill about distance and ring control.”

It made for a frustrating night, one that still haunts Trout. Lara last fought in June, in a whitewashing of Delvin Rodriguez. After Trout has his bout with Joey Hernandez in Los Angeles on September 8 (Fox Sports 1, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT), he wouldn’t mind dancing with “The American Dream” again sometime down the road.

“He’s a squirrely dude,” Trout said. “I am looking for a rematch, because that ‘L’ on my record plagues me.”

In the meantime, get ready for Trout vs Hernandez at our fight page.

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