By Sean Crose
Austin Trout may have seemed like a man who had fallen from on high before his appearance on ESPN2s Friday Night Fights. Trout didn’t see it that way, though, and – truth be told – he had good reason not to. ESPN2 appears in a wide number of households, after all. Since he had lost two major fights in a row, Trout knew well that he could end up on worst broadcasts than the one where Teddy Atlas leaves his mark.
Trout’s opponent on Friday was Daniel Dawson, a man with over forty wins and twenty six knockouts on his resume. While he may not have been premiere competition, Dawson was solid competition, nonetheless. Still, Trout had to look good if he wanted to get back on track with his career. The man simply had no choice.
That being said, Trout looked crisp from the start, tossing off sharp punches and efficiently avoiding the blows of his opponent. Todd Grisham announced from ringside that Trout was a 26-1 favorite walking in. That was no surprise, but it was no big shame, either. Trout simply needed to tuneup, an opportunity to regain his confidence and to look sharp.
Dawson showed up to fight, though, and he started off the night trying to look as game as possible. Yet Trout was all movement and control – until that is, he was dropped in the third. The way the man stumbled across the canvas, he looked more like a comedian than a pro athlete.
To his credit, Trout got right back into the fight, but the point had been made. Trout, who was supposed to be on the comeback trail, who was supposed to be in an easy fight, had ended up on the floor. That would have been bad enough – but then the man got knocked down again.
“Get your feet under you, son,” said kindly trainer Benton in Dawson’s corner. What the man truly needed, however, was to get his head on straight. For this did not look like a fighter who had defeated Miguel Cotto and who had given Canelo Alvarez a real run for his money.
It was clear in round four that Trout was in a fight with a dangerous foe. Dawson’s punches were clearly affecting the man, leaving a lot of doubt regarding the guy they call No Doubt’s future. Dawson was able to stay calm, though, and managed to put up a solid performance in the fifth.
Teddy Atlas was right in pointing out that Dawson had become too patient. He knew he could drop his opponent. He had to make opportunities happen, however, instead of just waiting for them to come along. Trout wasn’t looking good, but it was clear he could still win the fight.
As the bout progressed, it was Trout who was landing the cleaner, crisper punches. He was also in control of the fight’s tempo. Dawson was game and tough, but if he were truly going to win, it would be because Trout got lazy or somehow lost focus.
Dawson was down in the eighth, the result of a whole lot of serious Trout punches. The underdog was no longer on the verge of a huge upset, he was now a human punching bag. It began to seem like it was only a matter of time before referee Jack Reiss would stop the fight.
Reiss let the bout continue, but it was all over. Trout continued to beat his man up en route to taking a ten round decision. The question now is, where to from here for Trout? This author isn’t too quick to write the man off. There are those who felt Trout beat Alvarez, after all. And there’s no shame to losing to the likes of Lara. The man had better protect his chin, though. His career literally depends on it.
For the record – it was a great end to a great year for Friday Night Fights. Well done, ESPN.