When junior middleweight contender Austin Trout unanimously decisioned Miguel Cotto for a career-defining victory on Dec. 1 of last year, the southpaw’s great grandmother, Dorothy Johnson, and grandmother, Ann Johnson, were both in the audience along with family members at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Dorothy Johnson celebrated her 88th birthday by watching Trout’s performance, while Ann Johnson witnessed her grandchild end the Puerto Rican icon’s unbeaten run at The Garden at 7-0 before a crowd of 13,096 fans.
Trout’s 11-year-old daughter, Kaira Trout, had confidently predicted that her “dad is going to beat up Miguel Cotto.” during an open workout two days prior to the fight.
“Happy birthday ‘Nanna’ Johnson,” Trout said during the post-fight press conference. “Dorothy Johnson, you’re 88 years old and 88 years strong.”
But while Dorothy Johnson will be on hand nearly a year later when Trout (26-1, 14 knockouts) returns to New York to face fellow left-hander Erislandy Lara at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Dec. 7, Ann Johnson will not. She passed away as a result of a heart attack on May 26, as Trout was being married to his wife, Taylor.
“It happened actually during the wedding,” said Trout. “She saw us walk [down the isle,] and then, God took her. It was a heart attack. … It was beautifully tragic, to be honest.”
Coming off a unanimous decision loss to Canelo Alvarez in April, Trout will be spiritually motivated by the memory of Ann Johnson, as well as the support of the many family members who live in or near Brooklyn.
“It’s still going to be great coming back, especially to Brooklyn, because that’s where my family is from,” said Trout, a 28-year-old resident of Las Cruces, N.M.
“I will be dedicating this fight to my grandmother, who was born and raised in Brooklyn. She’s no longer with us because she passed away in May of this year, but her spirit is going to definitely be in the building.”
“That’s what they’re saying. I know that they may be trying to save face, because I know that they don’t want to fight Lara,” said Trout. “Now, I also know that they don’t want to fight me again. But at least that’s what they’re talking about, and I’m hoping that they’ll keep their word.”
Although he initially conceded defeat to Alvarez during his in-the-ring interview after the bout, Trout has had different thoughts after reviewing the fight.
“Watching the fight again, definitely not. Did I lose? Definitely not. I don’t see how he won the fight. That was a draw, at best. Not to mention the open scoring,” said Trout, who was announced as trailing on all three judges cards after four rounds. “I was just starting to get into a rhythm, and hearing the scores, that sort of messed with my strategy. If not for that, coming out in the fourth round, going into fifth round, it was just about to be a long night for him.”
It was back in July during separate interviews with RingTV.com that members of the Lara and Trout camps said the possibility for a fight was there, with both men being advised by Al Haymon.
In his last fight, Lara (18-1-2, 12 KOs) rose from knockdowns in the fourth and ninth rounds to score a 10th-round stoppage of Alfredo Angulo, which followed a disputed draw with Vanes Martirosyan in November of 2012.
“I have definitely gained a lot from watching his last two fights, because Lara don’t like to fight,” said Trout. “If you give him space, and if you let him dictate the pace and allow him to dictate what he wants to do, then he’s going to have a field day with that. But you need to impose your will on him, and if you do that, then it’s going to be a bad day for Lara. His conditioning, in my opinion, is questionable.
“I’ve seen him get gassed in almost every fight that has gone the distance … I think that he looks for the easy ways out. Like in the Vanes fight, he was looking for the head butt to stop it. He’s not as durable as I am, so I think that my heart and my will are going to be the key factors in this fight. So I’ve gained a lot in watching film on him. The one thing that I’ve definitely gained is confidence, every time that I watch him.”
Like Trout, Lara’s return to the East Coast means he is coming back to the site of one of his best performances, that being the Cuban’s majority-decision loss against former two-time welterweight titleholder Paul Williams in 2011, which many ringsiders and boxing insiders thought Lara had won.
“I agree that he won that fight, but I’m not going to be walking straight in with my right hand down so that he can catch me with that left hand,” said Trout. “I’m going to be getting out of the way, and I’m going to be moving my head a lot more than Paul, and I’m going to be using my jab a lot more than Paul. I mean, those are two key things that Paul could have done so that he could have won the fight easily, in my opinion.
“Him saying that he’s going to knock me out, that’s funny. But he’s supposed to think that, whatever his statements may be. But at the same time, I’m going to hurt him. We both can box, but he relies only on his boxing ability, whereas I feel that I’m more versatile and that I can box and mix it up also. We both have good, straight lefts. But the main difference is the heart. I believe that I have way more heart and more will than he does.”
“I’m not sure what his jaw can take, but if I can stop him, then I’ll stop him,” said Andrade, who will face Martirosyan on Saturday on HBO. “We fought back in the day, as amateurs, and I beat him then.”
Although Trout acknowledged the loss to Andrade, he said that another meeting would turn out differently.
“This ain’t the amateurs. This is professional boxing,” said Trout, “and I’m going to professionally whup his ass if we ever get in there together again.”
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]