By any measure, Austin Trout’s three biggest fights came in succession against Miguel Cotto, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Erislandy Lara. Trout defeated Cotto, but lost the next two, along with his 154-pound world championship.
Now the 30-year-old from Las Cruces, New Mexico, finds himself on the verge of another massive fight—this one against undefeated 154-pound titleholder Jermall Charlo (23-0, 18 KOs) on Saturday night at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
Suffice it to say, Austin Trout (30-2, 17 KOs) is hell-bent on achieving two goals against Charlo: evening his record in marquee matchups and becoming a champion for a second time.
“I’m a better fighter than I was for the Miguel Cotto fight,” Trout says. “And I’m definitely better than in the Canelo fight and better than I was when I fought Lara.
“I’m ready to make history and regain the world title.”
Trout enters his eighth career championship bout riding a four-fight winning streak since the consecutive losses to Alvarez and Lara. In his last victory on September 6, Trout knocked out veteran Joey Hernandez with a brutal sixth-round body shot.
That was the southpaw’s third straight fight under the guidance of Washington, D.C.-based trainer Barry Hunter, who seems to have elevated Trout’s all-around game.
Of course, none of the opponents for whom Hunter has prepped Trout have the kind of skills or pedigree as Charlo.
“ I’ve read where Trout says he’s going to bring the action to Jermall, which plays right into our hands. ” Ronnie Shields, trainer for Jermall Charlo
A 26-year-old from Houston, Charlo packs power in both fists, having knocked out 78 percent of his opponents overall, including 16 of the last 17. He was particularly impressive in his last two outings, needing only a combined seven rounds to dispatch Cornelius Bundrage (third-round TKO) and Wilky Campfort (fourth-round TKO).
In his title-claiming win over Bundrage, Charlo recorded four knockdowns, including one with his jab.
If there’s one area where Charlo is deficient, it’s his lack of experience against southpaw fighters. Actually, lack of experience implies he has some, which isn’t accurate: He has never faced a lefty in his professional career.
On the plus side, he frequently works out with the left-handed Lara under mutual trainer Ronnie Shields. As one of only two men to defeat Trout, Lara shared secrets with Charlo in training camp. The two friends also got in some ring work together.
“There is no concern whatsoever,” Shields says about Charlo fighting his first southpaw. “He's sparred with Lara, who I think is the best southpaw in the game right now, and he’s sparred with other southpaws in the gym all the time.”
For his part, Trout admits that Lara “exposed some things I needed to work on,” adding that he believes he’s “in the right place mentally, physically and spiritually.”
Perhaps, but Shields is convinced that Trout—who has been knocked down several times but never knocked out—has no idea what he’s signed up for.
“Lara’s counterpunching was too much for Trout,” he says. “I’ve read where Trout says he’s going to bring the action to Jermall, which plays right into our hands.”
In the lead up to this fight, Shields has gone so far as to say that Charlo "is definitely going to be the first one to knock his ass out." Trout chuckled when he learned of that prediction.
"Everyone has dreams, but I've been known to bust people's bubbles," he says. "No one has been able to knock me out. He thinks [Charlo's] a great man—a better man that Canelo or Lara? He's tripping."
Adding to the intrigue of this fight is the fact that Charlo will square off against Trout immediately after his twin brother, Jermell Charlo (27-0, 12 KOs), takes on John Jackson (20-2, 15 KOs) in the same ring.
Charlo and Jackson will be vying for a vacant 154-pound title, meaning if the brothers take care of business, they’ll fulfill a lifelong goal of leaving the ring as world champions.
And they’d do so some 48 hours after celebrating their 26th birthday.
“We’re not too much into putting pressure on each other,” says Jermall Charlo, who is the older sibling by a minute. “The reward is going to be that both of us will get our hands raised. This is the start of the Charlos building our legacies.”
For complete coverage of Charlo vs Trout, visit our fight page.