Austin Trout makes a stop on Capitol Hill ahead of title showdown against Jermall Charlo

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Last week, Austin Trout stood on Capitol Hill alongside legendary heavyweight champion Larry Holmes and nearly had to pinch himself.

Austin Trout and Joey Hernandez

Austin Trout prepares to dig a right hand into the body of Joey Hernandez during their fight in September. Trout used a vicious body shot to score a sixth-round knockout. (Suzanne Teresa/Premier Boxing Champions)

“Starstruck is definitely the phrase I would use,” said Trout, a 30-year-old former 154-pound world champion. “Larry Holmes had some priceless stories. I told [mixed martial artist] Phil Davis, ‘This is gold right here, hearing this legend’s wisdom about the game.’”

Trout and Davis were among a group of professional athletes—which included former two-division title winner Paulie Malignaggi and Heisman trophy winner and NFL great Herschel Walker—attending an April 26 news conference in Washington, D.C., on brain research in sports.

At the gathering, which also featured boxing enthusiast Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Dr. Charles Bernick of the Las Vegas-based Cleveland Clinic’s Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health addressed a new requirement by the Nevada State Athletic Commission that all fighters undergo brain testing.

“We’re shared our experiences toward the prevention of brain injury,” said Trout, who occasionally moonlights as an analyst for Premier Boxing Champions fights. “The fact that they wanted my opinion meant a lot, that I’m on the right track.”

Austin Trout (30-2, 17 KOs) is preparing for his return to the ring May 21 against 154-pound champion Jermall Charlo (23-0, 18 KOs) at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).

A lifelong resident of Las Cruces, New Mexico, Trout will be in pursuit of his fifth consecutive victory and his second stint atop the 154-pound division. He won his first world title in February 2011 and made four successful title defenses, capped by a victory over Miguel Cotto in December 2012.

I’ve had chaos in life and in boxing. But there’s a saying that chaos comes before order. Everything’s led me to this next opportunity. Austin Trout

Trout’s reign ended in April 2013, when he lost a unanimous decision to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, currently recognized as one of the world’s top pound-for-pound boxers. The loss to Alvarez—Trout’s first after a 26-0 start to his professional career—was followed in December 2013 by a unanimous decision loss to Erislandy Lara in a fight for an interim 154-pound crown.

Wedged in between the first two losses of his career was a day of extreme highs and lows for Trout. On May 26, 2013, he married his wife, Taylor, then saw his 69-year-old maternal grandmother, Ann Johnson, die after suffering a heart attack at the wedding.

“I feel like 2013 was necessary to grow as a man of God. It made me a better man outside and inside of the ring,” Trout said. “I’ve had chaos in life and in boxing. But there’s a saying that chaos comes before order. Everything’s led me to this next opportunity.”

Trout, who is in his fourth straight camp with trainer Barry Hunter at Headbangers Boxing Gym in Washington, D.C., realizes that not every former champion gets a third shot at reaching the top of the sport. For that reason, he’s grateful for the chance to fight the unbeaten Charlo—and he intends to make the most of it.

“I’m better than when I fought Miguel Cotto, Alvarez and Lara,” says Trout, who is coming off a sixth-round knockout of Joey Hernandez in September. “I’m seeing things now that I didn’t before, I’m a more aggressive, stronger puncher, and I’m placing my shots better.”

“I’ve said it before, but I really see this as the fight of my life. I’m blessed for this opportunity.”

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