Another fight in Texas, another controversial result. In the April 20th edition of Showtime Championship Boxing, junior middleweights Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (42-0-1, 30 knockouts) and Austin Trout (26-1, 14 knockouts) engaged in a 12-round contest for the vacant Ring title. Being one of the most anticipated match-ups of the year, many had expected a fight that was as even in the ring as it was on paper. It was definitely a close fight, but the score cards told a different story.
After answering the opening bell, both fighters started off in the tentative manner many had expected. With both fighters trying to get a sense for what their opponent had to offer, it was Canelo who was the first to land with anything remotely significant. It was at this point that Austin Trout began pawing out with a jab to set up some more significant straight left hands. This fairly even exchange of punches would be a trend that followed most of the rounds with the occasional power shot by “Canelo” breaking up the routine. This was especially true in the second round after “Canelo” managed to tag Trout with a vicious uppercut that, to Trout’s credit, was largely shaken off.
Every now and then Trout would show flashes of brilliance that would lead one to think that at any moment he would manage to finally take over the fight, but before any of that could happen Alvarez would prevent it with either superior defense and occasionally booming offense. Alvarez managed to further complicate things after he turned the table on Trout and finally managed to become the “jabber” of the bout, frustrating Trout as he managed to get hit for every punch he missed. This would lead to Alvarez landing the occasional massive shot, forcing Trout to attempt to respond with his own. Unfortunately for Trout, it was Alvarez who continued to find his range and success while landing power shots.
This back-and-forth pattern between the fighters continued well into the 7th, until Alvarez managed to drop Trout with a vicious right hand. Where some thought the end was near, Trout managed to recover well and keep the aggressive Mexican at bay. This urgency, in addition to the pressure of open scoring, carried Trout for the rest of the fight,as he refused to lay down for the 22-year old phenom. Aside from a 9th round which saw Alvarez land almost all of his power punches against his opponent’s jab, Trout managed to stay competitive and really force “Canelo” to work for his victory.
At the sound of the final bell, countless people had just as many different opinions on who should be awarded the victory. Does the fighter with the much higher punch output deserve the victory (Trout landed 154 of 769 punches)? Or does it go to the fighter who landed the fewer, but cleaner, more effective shots (Alvarez landed 124 of 431 punches)? On this night, or in Texas at least, effective shots overcomes all. Saul Alvarez was awarded the unanimous decision, but the scores didn’t necessarily reflect just how close the fight seemed at points. The judges scorecards were read as (115-112), (116-111, and (118-109) all in favor of Alvarez. There will no doubt be allegations of “home-cooking”, but there is no ignoring that this was one of those bouts in which an argument could be made for either fighter.
With his win over Trout, Alvarez expressed his desire to set up a fight against pound-for-pound king, Floyd Mayweather. Whether the bout ends up being as competitive or even materializes as Alvarez expects, one can’t ignore the potential allure the fight would garner with Alvarez’ new sense of legitimacy. As for Trout, all that’s left to do is regroup and get back as soon as possible. With a performance as close as he had, Trout’s future still looks bright. A rematch with “Canelo” seems inevitable, but whether that happens sooner or later is the question we’re all left to ponder.