(Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, right, punches Austin Trout; photo credit: Showtime)
“Canelo will be here for a long time,” said junior middleweight Saul Alvarez after defeating Austin Trout in San Antonio on Showtime. It’s hard to disagree with him, despite the third person athlete's tic. Canelo by no means destroyed all the doubts over his superstar status on Saturday, but he answered a lot of questions.
In a performance that mixed fearsome power punching and ring control with periods of frustrating apathy, Canelo earned a unanimous decision by scores of 115-112, 116-111 and a perplexing 118-109. Trout, who was more active than Alvarez and won in the eyes of some observers, deserved better than a card like that.
After a tentative 1st round that Trout won with his machine gun jab, a pattern established itself in the 2nd. Trout would throw many more punches than Alvarez, who waited to land the harder, more eye catching shots.
The majority of the fight passed in just such a way, leaving judges and observers to scratch their heads as they tried to score.
In the 4th Canelo’s 1-2 combinations won the round, while in the 5th Trout peppered his man with jabs and the odd left hand. It wasn’t until the 6th frame that a fight truly broke out, as Canelo stood Trout up with two looping rights. Trout flurried back as Alvarez bore down on him, eventually getting the Mexican on the ropes, where he bobbed and bent in an attempted Pernell Whittaker impersonation.
Perhaps buoyed by his success, Trout came out a bit too relaxed at the next bell, eating a rocket right hand that had him doing the hokey-pokey and tasting the canvas for the first time in his career. When he said before the fight that “this fish can moonwalk in outer space,” I don’t think that was what he had in mind.
Canelo, ever patient, declined to recklessly jump on Trout, instead opting for a series of stalking combinations. Trout survived, though, and managed to make the remaining two and a half minutes of the round competitive — a testament to his superb conditioning.
From there the fight reverted back to form, with each boxer trying to win with their right hand. Canelo took the odd round off, hands down and languishing with his back to the ropes but largely able to avoid what Trout was throwing. Trout won a lot of rounds in the second half of the fight because of Alvarez’s apathy and apparent lack of conditioning.
In the 11th round Canelo made his rope-a-dope work, finally deciding to fire back when he made Trout miss. A hellacious right uppercut might have been a fight-ender against a lesser boxer, but it hardly seemed to phase Trout.
With the suspense largely taken out of the final stanza by scoring that was open to the corners of both boxers, Canelo opted to coast. His snappy right hands and intelligent movement nevertheless won him the round.
Thanks to the semi-open scoring, there was no surprise as the official decision was announced.
In beating, albeit narrowly, a highly fancied, legitimate junior middleweight in Trout, Canelo will silence many of his doubters. The big surprise of the fight was his defence. The usually offensive minded red-head slipped, bobbed and weaved his way through the bout. While Trout mostly shut down his vaunted combination punching, the 22-year-old’s concussive power was on display throughout.
Questions remain. Why does Canelo take rounds off? Why was he breathing through his mouth and lowering his hands through the championship rounds? If he can avoid punches along the ropes, then why can’t he counter back?
That stuff can wait, though, as long as he doesn’t fight Floyd Mayweather, Jr. next — because Mayweather will punish him for those bad habits. I don’t know if there’s anyone else who could, though.
A visibly emotional, but still classy Trout offered no excuses: “He boxed better than I thought, he moved better than I thought… he shocked us. He’s a complete fighter.”
But he’s not yet. That’s the scary bit.