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Trout Out-Boxed Cotto Better Than Mayweather Did

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Saturday night, in what was one of the biggest upsets of 2012, Puerto Rican superstar Miguel Cotto {37-4 with 30 Kos} tasted defeat at Madison Square Garden for the first time in his boxing career after being out slicked and outpointed by unbeaten American Austin Trout {26-0 with 14 Kos}.

To say Miguel Cotto lost this fight because he grew old overnight would be criminal. Austin Trout defeated Miguel Cotto because of strategy and technique. Let me ask– was there any mention of physical decline regarding Miguel Cotto prior to the fight? As a matter of fact, most of the talk heading in was that the untested Austin Trout may indeed be in well over his head, so much so that many were already contemplating and plotting Miguel Cotto’s next opponent.

To blame Cotto’s defeat on anything other than a superb show of boxing skill really does take away from a masterful display by Austin Trout. For that reason, I’m going to highlight some of the techniques that Austin Trout performed brilliantly in defeating Miguel Cotto.

While I thought Austin Trout won this fight based on a superior set of skills and a better game plan, his physical attributes must be addressed.

Miguel Cotto vs Austin Trout

Notice the difference in height between Austin Trout and Miguel Cotto. It’s not often you see a height differential like this outside of watching the Klitschko brothers feast on smaller heavyweights.

At 5’10’’ and with a 73’’ reach, Austin Trout was at a huge physical advantage over Miguel Cotto, who at 5’ 7’’ with only a 67’’ reach, was always going to have to try and get inside on his larger opponent. It mustn’t be forgotten that not too long ago, Miguel Cotto was competing at 140 pounds. Cotto has moved into the junior middleweight division with age. During his physical prime, he was either a natural junior welterweight or a natural welterweight. On the other hand, Austin Trout is a natural junior middleweight, with wide shoulders and a wide back,  who’s fought in the division all his life. Because he’s still only 27 years-old, it’s not inconceivable to think that he could one day fight as a middleweight. Add to this the fact that Cotto fights small –hunched over on his lead foot- then he really was up against it physically. However, Trout’s size would have counted for nothing if he didn’t know how to put it to good use.

Left hand to the stomach

Right from the opening bell, Austin Trout began working behind his southpaw jab, as well as throwing a straight left hand into the pit of Miguel Cotto’s stomach. First, Trout would be on his back foot, looking to maintain the distance using his jab. As Cotto came forward looking to get inside, Trout would first occupy him with either a feint or a right hand, before dropping low and firing his straight left hand.

Miguel Cotto vs Austin Trout

Cotto is standing flat footed inside his usual high guard. Notice how Trout first occupies Cotto with his right jab before dropping low and landing his straight left hand between Cotto’s elbows. It was never Trout’s intention to land his right jab, only to take the eye away from the real attack.

Miguel Cotto vs Austin Trout

Again, Cotto is standing in his usual high guard. Trout throws his right jab up top to first occupy Cotto, before dropping low and landing his straight left hand.

Miguel Cotto vs Austin Trout

Here’s Cotto in his high guard again. Trout taps Cotto’s gloves with a right jab to keep Cotto’s guard high and tight. With Cotto still peeking out behind his high gloves, Trout drops low and fires another left hand into Cotto’s stomach. This time, Trout has changed the arc of the shot. Instead of it coming in straight, he swept it around. Trout continued to make little adjustments to his offense throughout the fight.

Here’s one last look at that left hand to the stomach

Screen shot 2012-12-03 at 12.13.26 PM

Cotto contiuned to peek out from behind a very high guard, and Trout continued to take advantage. Again, Trout dropped low and swept his left hand between Cotto’s elbows and deep into his stomach.

The importance of Trout’s left hand to the stomach cannot be over stressed. For me, this was the key to Trout’s success. The straight left hand to Cotto’s body did two things.

  • It wore Cotto down and sapped his stamina. Cotto seemed to fade towards the final stretch. Trout’s left hand to the stomach was the reason why.
  • Because Trout set an early attack pattern of going low, once he began to bring his attack back upstairs, Cotto wasn’t ready for it. This is something Floyd Mayweather does extremely well. Although they may not be aware of it, an opponent will usually make slight adjustments to their stance or guard in order to compensate for a low body attack. Once they do, it makes it easier to for an opponent to land an attack back up top and more difficult for the recipient of the attack to read it

The uppercut

As the fight progressed and Cotto began to slow down some, Trout started to throw well-timed uppercuts through Cotto’s guard.

Miguel Cotto vs Austin Trout

Trout used the same method of attack as before. First, Trout occupied Cotto with a right jab, before threading his left uppercut through the center. Cotto’s high guard leaves him vulnerable to uppercuts. This tactical adjustment was an astute observation from Trout.

Miguel Cotto vs Austin Trout

Here’s another variation of Trout’s uppercut. Cotto’s in his high guard. This time, Trout occupies Cotto with a lead left hand. Just as Trout’s left hand is extended, he comes back with a right uppercut/shovel hook {the angle is slightly different, but what’s important is that it’s still coming from underneath} before dropping his left hook into Cotto’s stomach. At this stage in the fight, Trout’s attack variety was outstanding.

This next sequence captures Austin Trout’s punch variation perfectly.

Screen shot 2012-12-03 at 12.17.07 PM

Here, Trout lands a left uppercut before bringing the same arm back and landing a left hook. Mike Tyson was famous for landing the hook to the body followed by an uppercut through the center, but this is an even tougher combination to pull off. Sure, Cotto’s high guard gives him more time, but this type of attack still requires a lot of hand speed and precision.

Although Trout began to land with some pretty unconventional combinations {on display above} the technique involved in the simple things he did was also noteworthy.

Screen shot 2012-12-03 at 12.18.07 PM

Notice Trout’s left glove as he’s threading his jab through Cotto’s high guard. If Cotto tries to counter with a right hand, Trout’s left glove is in position to block it. Also, notice how Trout is moving to his right to gain an outside angle for his straight left hand. As both men release their shots at the same time, Trout’s straight left hand finds the target whereas Cotto’s left jab sails wide.

Defense

It wasn’t just offensively where Austin Trout shone Saturday night. He also did an excellent job on defense. Miguel Cotto is a converted southpaw in that his power hand is actually his left hand but he chooses to lead with it out of an orthodox stance. Therefore, Cotto’s primary offensive weapon is his left hand and in particular, his left hook the head and body. For the most part, Austin Trout did a terrific job of eliminating Cotto’s left hook threat.

Miguel Cotto vs Austin Trout

Here, Trout is on his back foot while Cotto is looking to close the distance and land his left hook. As Cotto throws his left, Trout catches him on the way in with a right hook before reversing his direction and retreating. This tactic was a favorite of another slick southpaw, Pernell Whitaker.

Screen shot 2012-12-03 at 12.20.45 PM

Here, Trout uses his right hand to gauge the distance between himself and Cotto. As Cotto tries to land a left hook, Trout simply takes a step back and allows Cotto’s left hook to fall short. Cotto was well out of range, but because Trout was touching him, he felt that Trout was hittable. This is a tactic often used by Wladimir Klitschko.

As I mentioned earlier, Cotto is a converted southpaw. Because his lead hand is his power hand, he seldom uses his non dominant hand -his right- and if he does, he’s not all that effective with it. As almost anyone with an incline of boxing knowledge will tell you, the best weapon against the southpaw is the straight right hand. This hurt Cotto a lot Saturday night.

Screen shot 2012-12-03 at 12.21.58 PM

This is an excellent sequence highlighting a few things. First, notice Cotto’s body shape as he’s firing the jab. He’s standing upright and his head is central. By contrast, Trout is dipping low and has taken his head away from the center line and to the outside of Cotto’s jab. As Trout lands his straight left and Cotto’s jab misses the target, take a look at what Trout does next. He rolls under and out to the right of Cotto. This is a stroke of tactical genius against a converted southpaw. Usually, a southpaw will move to his right, away from an orthodox fighter’s right hand. Here, Trout is moving to his left, away from Cotto’s power left. Throughout the fight, Trout spent a lot of time moving to his left to avoid Cotto’s left hand.

Miguel Cotto vs Austin Trout

In this sequence, Trout is occupying Cotto with his right hand before gaining a dominant angle yet again for his straight left hand. As Cotto is throwing his jab, Trout manages to get his lead foot on the outside of Cotto’s lead foot and fires a straight left hand. Because Trout has the outside position, his straight left lands whereas Cotto’s jab missed the target. After connecting, Trout rolls under and out towards Cotto’s right. Even though Cotto throws a right hand as Trout is rolling under, Trout knows that there’s less danger present by exiting towards Cotto’s right instead of his left. Manny Pacquiao also had a lot of success against Cotto by employing this tactic.

All in all, I thought this was a remarkable display from Austin Trout. Sure, Miguel Cotto had his moments, namely when he landed a left hook that seemed to wobble Trout momentarily and also there were a few occasions during the fight when he managed to pin Trout up on the ropes and get in a few good shots, but for me, this was Austin Trout’s night. Even when Trout was up on the ropes, he did a good job of rolling and slipping Cotto’s shots.

From where I was looking, the biggest problem Cotto was faced with was he needs to set himself and plant his feet in order to let his shots go. Yes, Cotto does plenty of bouncing around between punches, but he struggles to let his hands go unless his opponent is either pinned up on the ropes or is right in front of him. Most of the time, Cotto’s weight is over on his front foot. Because of this, should a fighter move off quickly, Cotto struggles to get off.

Needless to say, because Trout was always backing up and moving side to side, Cotto found it tough to get set, and in turn, get off. When Cotto did manage to close the distance and was just about to throw, Trout would either feint him into covering up or occupy him with the jab before landing some shots of his own, or he would simply move off to a different angle. Either way, Trout prevented Cotto from landing with any regularity.

Miguel Cotto has been beaten before. But I’ve never seen him out slicked like this. Not even Floyd Mayweather managed to out box Miguel Cotto the way Austin Trout did Saturday night. And that’s saying something.

 

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Michael Dutchover Remains Undefeated in Ontario, Calif.

Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.

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Michael Dutchover

ONTARIO-Calif.-Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.

Lightweight prospect Dutchover (11-0, 8 KOs) knocked out southpaw Aguilera (14-4-1, 4 KOs) in the fifth round with a barrage of body blows that left the Costa Rican limp at the Doubletree Hotel.

For two rounds Aguilar used an awkward counter-punching style that had Dutchover a little tentative. But once he figured out that combination punching was the key, he opened up with barrages and floored Aguilar with body shots at the end of round four.

That signaled doom for Aguilar.

The fifth round saw Dutchover target the body with impunity as Aguilar tried holding, running and covering up with no success. Referee Wayne Hedgepeth signaled the fight over at 2:31 of the fifth round giving Dutchover the win by knockout.

In a bantamweight clash Santa Ana’s Mario Hernandez (7-0-1, 3 KOs) and Mexico City’s Ivan Gonzalez (4-1-2, 1 KO) fought to a majority draw after six back and forth rounds.

Hernandez targeted the body against the taller Gonzalez who relied on long range counters. Both found success but neither could prove superiority after six turbulent rounds.

After six rounds one judge saw it 58-56 for Gonzalez but the two other judges saw it 57-57 for a majority draw.

Other bouts

South Central L.A.’s Ruben Torres (7-0, 6 KOs) extended his undefeated streak with a knockout over Mexico’s Eder “El Koreano” Amaro (6-6, 2 KOs) in a lightweight fight. But it wasn’t easy.

Amaro switched from southpaw to orthodox and was matching Torres for two rounds until the taller local fighter began blasting away to the body and head with precision. Many in the crowd cheered “Koreano” in unison but it couldn’t help once Torres zeroed in.

At the end of the fourth round Amaro could not continue and the fight was stopped giving a knockout for Torres.

Richard Brewart Jr. (2-0) mowed through Edward Aceves (0-5) flooring him with body shots in the first round then overwhelming him in the second. After seven unanswered blows referee Eddie Hernandez stopped the fight at 1:32 of round two giving Rancho Cucamonga’s Brewart the win by knockout in the super welterweight bout.

Southpaw David Ortiz (1-0) won his pro debut by unanimous decision after four rounds in a welterweight match against San Diego’s Mario Angeles (2-11-2). Ortiz lives in Bloomington, Calif. and is trained by Henry Ramirez. No knockdowns were scored.

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Charr-Oquendo Scuttled When Charr Tests Positive; the Odious WBA Saves Face

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Manuel Charr

Manuel Charr and Fres Oquendo were scheduled to fight in Cologne, Germany, later this month (Sept. 29). Charr would be defending his WBA world heavyweight title, the “regular” version of it, not the “super” version which rests in the hands of Anthony Joshua.

The bout was quickly cancelled when it was revealed that Charr had tested positive for two banned anabolic steroids. The test was performed by VADA, the anti-doping agency identified with Las Vegas neurologist Dr. Margaret Goodman.

The 33-year-old Charr, born in Lebanon but a resident of Germany since the age of three, won the belt in his last start with a unanimous decision over 281-pound Russian behemoth Alexander Ustinov in Oberhausen, Germany. The title was vacant. Charr won the right to fight for it with a 10-round decision over Albanian slug Sefer Seferi. The victory over Ustinov elevated his record to 31-4. He has been stopped three times, by Vitali Klitschko, Alexander Povetkin, and Mairis Briedis.

If it wasn’t for bad luck, as the old saying goes, Fres Oquendo wouldn’t have any luck at all. For various reasons, his fights keep falling out. Before long he’ll be drawing social security. Well, not exactly, but he turned 45 in April and hasn’t fought in more than four years.

Oquendo has competed for this belt before. In his last ring appearance in July of 2014, he lost a majority decision to Russia’s Ruslan Chagaev in Grozny, Russia. As a concession for taking the fight on short notice, Team Oquendo negotiated a rematch clause in the contract, but a shoulder injury prevented Fres from activating it. When the injury healed, he had to go to court to compel Chagaev to fulfill his obligation. But then the Russian retired, muddling the water.

The WBA was legally bound to find Oquendo a title fight and in desperation turned to ancient Shannon Briggs. But the Oquendo-Briggs fight, scheduled for June 3 of last year in Hollywood, Florida, fell out when Briggs’ urine specimen showed an abnormally high level of testosterone.

Fres Oquendo was dogged by bad luck even before these recent developments. His professional record, 37-8, is somewhat misleading as six of his eight defeats were razor-thin including his 2003 setback to Chris Byrd and his 2006 setback to Evander Holyfield. However, Oquendo, something of a cutie, was never a crowd-pleaser and in none of his narrow defeats was there a public clamor for a rematch.

The cancellation of Charr-Oquendo cuts the World Boxing Association out of a sanctioning fee, but one would think that the WBA honchos are actually rather pleased by this turn of events. The fight, more precisely the WBA’s world title imprimatur, would have brought more unwanted publicity to the Panama-based organization.

ESPN’s Dan Rafael, who has the largest platform of any boxing writer, has been a persistent critic of the organization which once recognized 41 “champions” in 17 weight classes. In 2009, Rafael wrote, “(The WBA) has become such an absolute farce that even somebody like me, who follows boxing closely, sometimes has a hard time keeping track of all the nonsensical so-called world title belts the WBA has been doling out at an alarming rate. It almost reminds me of the ladies at Costco who hand out various samples on a busy Saturday afternoon.”

Rafael took note when WBA president Gilberto Mendoza promised to cull the herd by eliminating “regular” titles, and then became more caustic when Mendoza didn’t follow through. Recently, in one short, punchy diatribe, Rafael blistered the WBA as wretched, vile, and rancid.

Regardless of your opinion, it’s hard not to feel sorry for Fres Oquendo who keeps getting stranded at the altar. No, he’s not fun to watch and a man of his age shouldn’t be taking any more punches, but he has always been an honest workman and by all accounts he’s a very decent man. Born in Puerto Rico but raised in Chicago, Oquendo pitched right in when the island nation of his birth was ravaged by Hurricane Maria. He was personally responsible for relocating Puerto Rican boxing legend Wilfred Benitez and Benitez’s sister, his caregiver, to Chicago where their lives wouldn’t be as hard.

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Bob Arum Hails Terence Crawford (not Lomachenko) as Boxing’s Next Superstar

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Arum says Terence

Top Rank’s Bob Arum says Terence Crawford will become this generation’s Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao–elite boxers who became worldwide celebrity sensations. Arum, who promoted both Mayweather and Pacquiao on the way to their historic crossover statuses expects big things from the undefeated Crawford over the next few years.

“He’s the best fighter in the United States, and he’s so charismatic,” said Arum. “He comes from middle America, and In the next year or so, he will be huge.”

Arum’s assertion is noteworthy for two reasons. First, Arum is also the promoter for Vasyl Lomachenko. Lomachenko is ranked No. 1 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. More importantly, Lomachenko seems to have a groundswell of support behind him both in the media and among fight fans.

Lomachenko has also been heavily featured through Top Rank’s television partnership with ESPN. While Crawford has achieved more in his career than Lomachenko (at least in my eyes) and, as noted by Arum, is a homegrown American talent, Lomachenko seems to be considered the more marketable commodity to that network judging by the amount of promotional materials ESPN has pumped out about the fighter over the last year.

The other reason Arum’s claim about Crawford is interesting is the performance of Canelo Alvarez over the weekend in his majority decision rematch win over Gennady Golovkin. Besides Mayweather and Pacquiao, Alvarez is the clear PPV leader among all of boxing’s current commodities, and his status as boxing’s new money fighter should only grow stronger after the best win of his career.

Still, Crawford is one of the few very elite fighters in all of boxing. He’s ranked No. 2 pound-for-pound by The Ring, the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board.

While Lomachenko and Alvarez are also candidates to become boxing’s next big thing, there’s no doubt Crawford is also one of the few boxers in the sport right now with the right things in place to become the next Mayweather or Pacquiao.

Omaha’s Crawford is in the midst of an historic run. When he stopped Jeff Horn in round 9 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in June, Crawford captured a world title in his third different weight class, welterweight. This after Crawford had already captured two lineal boxing championships, as well as multiple alphabet titles, in both the lightweight and junior welterweight divisions.

By any measure, Crawford is truly one of the best boxers in the sport. Not only does he look the part in the ring on fight night (something more and more writers seem to value most when voting for pound-for-pound lists), but the fighter has already accomplished so much in his career that it seems Arum is doing more than the fiduciary duty of promoting his fighter when he ascribes to Crawford such lofty praise.

Crawford, still just 30 years old, is already halfway to matching Mayweather and Pacquiao’s shared record of most lineal championships. Over the course of his career, Mayweather captured lineal championships at junior lightweight, lightweight, welterweight, and junior middleweight. Pacquiao won his as a flyweight, featherweight, junior lightweight, and junior welterweight.

In order for Crawford to grab lineal championship No. 3, most believe he’ll have to go through welterweight phenom Errol Spence. While promotional entanglements might keep this superfight on the shelf for a while, Arum said he had no problem pitting Crawford against Spence in what would be one of the best matchups in recent memory.

“Absolutely,” said Arum when asked about working with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, who represents Spence, to make the fight. Could any response from him be more exciting? Crawford vs. Spence might be the next superfight in boxing. Both fighters are among the very elite, and unlike what ultimately happened with Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, who fought each other well past their peak years, both would be in the prime of their careers.

Winning that fight would certainly go a long way to making Arum’s vision of Crawford’s future come true. And who knows? Maybe Crawford really is the next Mayweather or Pacquiao. Heck, for all we know, he could even be on his way to doing something more.

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