Days before stepping into the ring to defend his World Boxing Association super welterweight title against Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden, Austin Trout was looking to get the respect that comes with the belt he won two years ago.
The basically unheralded Trout — who goes by the nickname "No Doubt" — boasted, "I'm the present and future of the sport."
Trout was facing some pretty long odds in defeating his opponent in the boxing arena which might be called Cotto's house.
Cotto's 7-0 record in the Garden and the hostile pro-Cotto crowd of 13,097 could attest to his popularity in his home away from home.
In an entertaining and action-packed fight, that was pretty much even up until the final rounds, Trout (26-0, 14 KOs) backed up his words and beat Cotto (37-4, 30 KOs) in a 12-round unanimous decision.
The 27-year-old Trout managed to dominate the final two rounds and won easily on all three scorecards. Two judges had it 117-111 while the third scored the fight 119-113 — all for Trout.
After the fight, fans waving Puerto Rican flags booed the judges' decision that denied their native son another title.
Trout, whose game plan was not to stand in front of the 32-year-old Cotto, was satisfied with the win.
"I've been preparing for this fight for my entire life,' said Trout after the bout. "Fighting Miguel Cotto is a dream come true, it was the hardest fight of my career."
Cotto, who regained his composure after a hard Trout left hand in the first, still had Trout on the ropes with a wild flurry in the 10th round that had the crowd roaring with approval. But it was Trout's southpaw style that prevailed by not giving Cotto any clear open shots.
"I had to show him I was the bigger guy and push him back a couple of times to show him he had no advantage," said Trout.
Trout landed 238 punches, according to Compubox, while Cotto landed 183. Trout also landed 192 power punches to 154 scored for his opponent.
It was a tough day for Puerto Rican boxing fans in general. Earlier in the morning, the family of Hector "Macho" Camacho buried one of the sports legendary competitors in the Bronx and twelve hours later, they watched one of their favorite sons fight what could be his last bout at Madison Square Garden.
Cotto initially left the ring in disgust after believing he won the 154-pound fight. It was his second straight loss. He said he would evaluate his career after some time off and a little rest.
For Trout, it could be the start of a new love affair with the old arena.
"I hope they bring me back to New York," he said. "I love fighting in the Garden."
For Cotto — who might have heard the final bell in a place that hosted so many of his greatest moments — the cheers were still ringing after the fight.
Asked if he thought he had won, Cotto, while blowing kisses out to the crowd, said, "Who do you think won the fight? Just listen to those fans."