‘Austin powers to victory’ wrote Jack Hirsch, in this, our original fight report from December 1, 2012 in New York City.
THE crowd of 13,096 at Madison Square Garden booed lustily every time Canelo Alvarez’s face was shown on the big overhead screen. The Mexican was in attendance for the expected announcement that he would be squaring off against Puerto Rico’s favourite son Miguel Cotto in a light-middleweight unification fight at the MGM in Las Vegas next May.
All Cotto had to do to make this a reality was to dethrone WBA champion Austin Trout. It never happened as Trout retained by unanimous 12-round decision.
The result in itself was not shocking, as some insiders had tipped Trout, 26-0 (14), to upset Cotto. What surprised many was the wide disparity in the scoring for what was a close fight. Judges John Poturaj and Steve Weisfeld had it 117-111, while Adalaide Byrd turned in an inexplicable 119-109 card, not giving Cotto a round until the 11th. I had Trout ahead 115-113.
A pattern has developed in Cotto’s career whenever he faces an elite fighter – he tends to fade down the stretch. It happened again on this evening. Outside the round Byrd had given him, the man from Caguas captured no other on the official scorecards after the sixth.
Trout understood that because of Cotto’s past success at MSG, and the level of crowd support he enjoyed, the burden was on him to do perhaps a little more than he would normally have to. However, it was not working out that way in the first half of the fight.
Cotto (10st 13 1/2lbs), now 37-4 (30), applied effective pressure. Trout (11st), a quick, slick southpaw who moves well on his feet, was frequently forced to hold. He did briefly stagger the challenger with a left hook in the opening round, but not until Cotto started to tire was the champion able to land cleanly with any type of regularity.
Trout, 27, was busy. He kept pumping the jab and throwing straight lefts to the head and body, but few landed cleanly over the first seven rounds. One that did was a low left in the fifth; time was called to give Cotto a short reprieve.
On numerous occasions the tape would come loose from Trout’s gloves, necessitating referee Charlie Fitch to call time. The pro-Cotto crowd booed, but the relatively fresh Trout gained no advantage from these temporary delays.
Cotto’s best round was the sixth when he reversed roles with Trout and boxed beautifully. Twice Cotto sent the sweat flying off the New Mexican’s head, first from a left hook and later a straight right.
There was a clear role reversal by the seventh: it was Trout moving forward and Cotto in retreat. Austin landed a sweeping left hook but Cotto hit the taller man with two flush rights.
Cotto, 32, faded badly over the last five. He would have periodic moments of success, such as in the closing stages of the 10th, when he drove Trout to the ropes and landed a flurry of blows. But for the most part was getting outmuscled. Trout’s right uppercuts, which missed or were blocked earlier, now found a home.
The crowd tried to lift Cotto. The former champion would temporarily respond, but could not match Trout’s workrate. It was as simple as that. Cotto tried to rally in the final stages, but Trout would not let him get back on top.
Trout, dressed immaculately in a grey shirt and suit, paid tribute to Cotto at the post-fight press conference: “Cotto is a great champion. Just to be able to fight him was an honour. Because it was in Madison Square Garden and there were a lot of close rounds, I had doubts whether I pulled it out. I thought it was closer than the official scorecards. When I heard it was unanimous, I was a little nervous.”
Unlike the unmarked Trout, Cotto’s face was a mass of lumps and bruises. “I am a little disappointed with the decision of the judges,” he said. “They can give the fight to whoever they want, but 119-109 and 117-111 is too wide for what I brought to the ring.
“I am not finished yet. I still have boxing on my mind, but now want to enjoy the holidays with my family.”
Golden Boy Promotions’ Richard Schaefer left the door slightly open to the Alvarez fight still happening. “We will sit down with Cotto and his team to see if it is still a possibility. James Kirkland and Alfredo Angulo are possibilities as well.”
The eight fights on the undercard featured strong talent, but unfortunately for the most part were mismatches.
Jayson Velez (9st), from Puerto Rico and 20-0 (15), looked sensational stopping Salvador Sanchez (8st 13lbs) at 39 seconds of the third round in a scheduled 10 for the vacant WBC Silver featherweight title.
Sanchez, 30-5-3 (18), was never in the fight. The nephew of the late, great former featherweight champion bearing the same name was hit with alarming frequency. Sanchez was game and durable, which if anything worked to his detriment.
Sanchez was dropped right before the bell rang ending round two. Then he was floored twice in the third before referee Harvey Dock stepped in. Velez has the look of a special fighter.
Six weeks after making his emotional return to the ring, cancer survivor Danny Jacobs was back in action again in a scheduled eight. In the opposite corner was Chris Fitzpatrick (11st 9lbs) from Cleveland.
Paying tribute to the recently deceased Hector Camacho, Jacobs (11st 7lbs) dressed in stylish trunks. He also boxed left-handed for the first minute of the bout. The Brooklyn man looked sharp and started to score heavily in the third. Fitzpatrick was durable, but could not mount any sort of offence.
A left hook hurt Fitzpatrick in the fifth and Jacobs, 24-1 (21), started to pour it on. Fitzpatrick stayed on his feet but it was stopped when he got back to his corner at the end of the round.
Fitzpatrick fell to 15-3 (6).
Puerto Rico’s Jorge Melendez, 25-2-1 (24), knocked down North Carolina’s James Winchester, 15-7 (5), in both ➥ ➥ the second and third rounds of their scheduled eight. When he continued to hammer Winchester in the fourth it was stopped at 54 seconds of that session. Both scaled 11st 1lb.
Jeffrey Fontanez (9st 8 1/2lbs), 9-0 (7), outclassed Tijuana’s Pedro Arcos (9st 9lbs), 12-3-1 (9), in their scheduled six. Arcos was down in the first and when he went down again heavily in the second it was halted, the time 1-23.
Michael Perez (9st 9 1/2lbs), 18-1-1 (10) and from Newark, won a unanimous eight-round decision over Mexico’s Fernando Carcamo (9st 10lbs), 10-5 (7). All three scores favoured Perez by 79-71. Carcamo was down in the first and last rounds but made Perez work hard.
Jorge Diaz (8st 10 1/2lbs), 17-1 (10), dropped Houston’s Victor Sanchez (9st), 3-5-1, in the first round of a six and after that the New Jersey fighter outboxed his opponent in a slow-paced bout. All scores favoured Diaz by 60-53.
Eddie Gomez (10st 10lbs), 12-0 (8) and from the Bronx, outscored Puerto Rico’s Luis Hernandez (10st 12lbs), 9-1 (5), over six rounds. Gomez had a point deducted in the final round for hitting low, but won unanimously at 58-55, 59-54 twice.
In the opening fight of the evening, Newark’s John Thompson (11st 2 1/2lbs), 10-0 (3), won a unanimous six-rounder over Port Au Prince’s Elie Augustama (11st 4lbs), 6-6 (3). Scores were 60-54, 59-55 twice.