The list of things Jermall Charlo will carry into the ring for his May 21 fight against Austin Trout: a 154-pound world title, an unbeaten record, a streak of 16 stoppage wins in his last 17 bouts … and the wisdom of a friend who knows what it feels like to beat Trout.
As if often the case, Charlo’s training camp for his showdown against Trout has included workouts at the Houston-area Plex Boxing Gym with Erislandy Lara, a fellow 154-pound champ who, like Charlo, is trained by Ronnie Shields.
In recent weeks, Jermall Charlo (23-0, 18 KOs) has leaned heavily on Lara for two very good reasons: Lara defeated Austin Trout (30-2, 17 KOs) in a title fight 2½ years ago, and he’s a southpaw—just like Trout.
“Me and Lara continue to work with each other, and that’s definitely going to be helpful,” says Charlo, who will enter the ring against Trout at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas two days after his 26th birthday. “Lara and Trout are both southpaws, so [working with Lara is] to my advantage. Ronnie Shields and I feel like they beat Austin Trout once already, and I know we can do it again.”
Shields has been busy lately with both Charlo and Lara, as the latter headlines the May 21 card with his own title defense against Vanes Martirosyan. Also scheduled that night is a clash between Charlo’s twin brother, Jermell Charlo, who risks his undefeated record against John Jackson in a battle for a vacant 154-pound crown (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
While Lara and Charlo train together and pick each other’s brains, Shields is reluctant to put the two champs in the ring together. “I don’t let [Lara] and Jermall spar too often, but they did spar with each other not too long ago,” Shields says. “Lara’s a much slicker fighter than Austin Trout, who is hittable. It’s difficult to hit Lara.”
A lifelong resident of Las Cruces, New Mexico, Trout was dropped in the 11th round by Lara in December 2013 and lost a unanimous decision. It was Trout’s second consecutive defeat, the other coming against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, who floored Trout in the seventh round on his way to a unanimous decision.
Prior to those setbacks, Trout had been 26-0 and made four successful defenses of a 154-pound world title he won in February 2011, the last one being a victory over Miguel Cotto.
Since falling to Lara, the 30-year-old lefty has won four straight fights, stopping his last three foes, all under new cornerman Barry Hunter.
“I know Austin Trout has changed trainers, and that another loss would be very disappointing to him, so he’s coming to fight and bringing everything to get this win,” Charlo says. “But I’ve gotten better and better and stronger and stronger, and this has been one of my best and strongest camps ever.
“I’m ready for the best Austin Trout has to offer. I’m ready for the Trout that beat Cotto, fought Canelo and fought Lara.”
Not only did Alvarez and Lara each put Trout on the canvas, but Daniel Dawson dropped him twice in August 2008, a fight Trout rallied to win handily. Nobody, however, has put Trout down and out.
Might a knockout be on the minds of Shields and Charlo, who has been taken the distance just once since late 2009?
“I never put a game plan together to knock someone out. It is most important that we do the right things to win the fight,” Shields says. “But, of course, with the power that Jermall has, if he hits Austin the right way, Jermall is definitely going to be the first one to knock his ass out.”
Says Charlo: “No way is he getting around this jab I have waiting for him. I’m just going in there to out-skill him and shut his game plan down. I’m planning on taking him out the same way that I’ve taken everyone else out.”