The former World Super Welterweight Champion believes he has one last title run in him as he prepares to face Terrell Gausha Saturday night on FS1.
Austin Trout reached the peak of his boxing career on December 1, 2012, when he handily outpointed future Hall of Famer Miguel Cotto to establish himself as one of best fighters in the world.
The subsequent 6½ years? Well, as Trout put it, “I’ve been trying to recapture that glory.”
That process has been difficult for the longtime super welterweight contender, who faces 2012 U.S. Olympian Terrell Gausha in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions card Saturday, May 25, in Biloxi, Mississippi, live on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Deportes (8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT).
Trout (31-5, 17 knockouts) is only 5-5 since the Cotto fight, which is hardly the record of an elite fighter. However, there are extenuating circumstances. Consider:
All five of the setbacks came against elite-level opponents – Canelo Alvarez (UD), Erislandy Lara (UD), Jermall Charlo (UD), Jarrett Hurd (TKO 10) and Jermell Charlo (MD).
Only one of the losses – the one against Lara – was one-sided. The others were close, competitive fights that could’ve gone Trout’s way if things had been only slightly different.
And he hasn’t been fighting as often as he would’ve liked the past several years, including a 17-month layoff before the Hurd fight. The rust, he said, has added to already-tough challenges.
The near misses in the ring and the extended time out of it have left Trout feeling as if he wants to punch someone.
He admits that Lara, a slick, experienced southpaw from Cuba, was the better fighter when they met in 2013. The rest? No. You can’t convince him that he deserved to lose to Alvarez or either of the Charlo brothers. And he was fighting Hurd on even terms when he ran out of gas late in the fight.
Imagine how differently Trout would be perceived had he won even one or two of those important fights.
“It’s very frustrating,” he said. “I don’t believe any of those guys are better than I am. And when you lose to someone you shouldn’t lose to, frustration builds up.”
Layoffs are a part of boxing for many elite fighters for a variety of reasons but Trout has had more than his share. The 17-month hiatus was particularly long. And, even today, he will have been out of the ring almost a year when he faces Gausha (21-1, 10 KOs) in a must-win fight at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino.
He has fought only four times since 2015, which isn’t enough to keep him sharp. And he acknowledges that he has allowed himself to fall out of shape during long breaks between fights, which has forced him to devote precious time on fitness instead of strategy during his training camps.
“ I’ve been trying to recapture that glory. ” Former World Super Welterweight Champion - Austin Trout
“I’ve been fighting killers coming off these layoffs,” he said. “(Joey) Hernandez to the first Charlo fight was nine months. (Jermell) Charlo to Hurd was 17 months. I was brought back (for an eight-rounder) in February and then came back in June to fight Jermall Charlo. I needed a couple more tune-ups.
“I haven’t been active. And you get stagnant waiting for fights. That’s why I haven’t been able to get over the hump. That’s my fault. I should stay in camp and try to stay in shape. I have to start over every camp. The inactivity has killed me.”
In fact, Trout is very much alive at 33. He demonstrated as much against then-WBC titleholder Jermell Charlo in June, when two knockdowns – one of which he said was set up by a shove – cost him a chance to win a decision and the championship.
Trout says he has learned from his mistakes. He’s pushing his handlers to keep him more active, he has pledged to spend more time at the gym between fights and he has brought in trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. to work with his longtime mentor and friend Louie Burke as he prepares for Gausha.
The idea is to make one more concerted run at a major title.
“I don’t want to retire thinking about ‘what if,’” Trout said. “I’m 33. I’m still good. I feel I still have top-notch talent. It’s time to get it now, not later. I’m trying to do everything I feel is right for me the rest of my career.
“I do feel the clock ticking,” he went on. “At the end of the day the only one who is undefeated is father time. You never know when you’re going to turn old. I want to make things happen before that happens to me.”
Burke, who started working with Trout when the fighter was 10, has felt his protégé’s pain the past several years. He also thought Trout did enough to beat Alvarez and the Charlo brothers, “which could’ve pushed his career in a different direction.”
At the same time, Burke said that Trout has been able to remain a contender through all his tribulations because of his mental toughness. Burke hopes that quality and the addition of Mayweather will give him the boost he needs to recapture what he had the night he outboxed Cotto.
“I think he can do it,” Burke said. “He doesn’t have bad habits, he so tough mentally and hopefully Mayweather will find something to add. It’s like a fresh start. Maybe that’s what Austin needs.”
For a closer look at Austin Trout, check out his fighter page.