Austin Trout took on 25-1 underdog Daniel Dawson of Australia this past Friday on ESPN. The result was supposed to be a one-sided win for Trout, and to look at the scorecards, it was, but Dawson convinced most of the viewers, and maybe even Trout himself, that he had a shot to win. Scoring two solid knockdowns in round three after unquestionably losing the first two rounds, Dawson started to find his range and began landing with greater accuracy and effect. Trout was hit with two hard straight right counter shots, the punch traditionally thought of as kryptonite for a southpaw style like Trout’s. Indeed, it was in this case, as Dawson had trouble landing anything else of consequence up until that point in the fight, but afterward was able to position his feet better, counter more often, and move in on Trout, whose normally sturdy defense was less evident that night.
Teddy Atlas pointed out that Trout was not fighting in his usual defensive, counter-punching style. Instead, he was pursuing Dawson, and in between punches, leaving himself wide open for straight punches. While he was hit with two very hard shots, Trout showed impressive heart by recovering quickly from the knockdowns. He was clearly hurt by both shots, but managed to stabilize himself enough after both that Dawson was discouraged from pursuing a quick finish. It could be that Dawson might have changed the result of the fight if he were a better finisher, but he left Trout to rejuvenate for long enough that when an awkward tie-up led to a knee injury for Dawson, Trout was able to capitalize and score a knockdown of his own, taking over the fight from then on and dominating the scorecards as he was expected to. On the other hand, we’ll never know how the fight might have gone if the injury had not occurred. Dawson certainly seemed to have enough to keep up with Trout before that happened.
Trout had said before the fight that he didn’t care about being exciting in that fight and that he only wanted a win. He sure had a funny way of showing it. He seemed to keep his guard wider than in previous fights, and his punches looked less straight and controlled, not to mention that he was coming forward rather than drawing his opponent in for a counter shot. While his only two losses were consecutive and fairly one-sided, Trout had only been knocked down once in each, and they were delivered by two of the best fighters in the weight class. Dawson, a stepping stone, managed two serious knockdowns that could very easily have led to a stoppage, or even a decision win had he not been injured. You have to wonder if two losses in a row were too much for Trout, being previously undefeated. If he’s changing his style this drastically, or at least straying significantly from it, he might not be as disciplined as he seemed in his best moments against Alvarez and Lara. It could be that those fights happened to highlight his strengths, and that he was never meant for that level of the sport. It’s good for his confidence that he was able to get a win and move forward, but if he takes tougher competition next time, fans might see a more vulnerable Austin Trout than they expected. His “No Doubt” moniker seems all too contradictory for the time being.