Words: Robert Delgado – Los Angeles
Photos: Esther Lin/Showtime
Defending WBA junior middleweight champion of the world, Austin Trout, is hoping a win over challenger Delvin Rodriguez – whose stock is currently high following his two dust-ups with Pawel Wolak last year – will elevate him from title-holder to emerging star. Trout takes on Rodriguez on Saturday, June 2 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California but Delvin believes his experience against southpaw fighters will make a difference when it’s time to trade.
The bout between Trout (24-0-0, 14ko) and Rodriguez (26-5-3, 14ko) may not be the headlining fight on a Showtime bill that also includes Antonio Tarver versus Lateef Kayode, Winky Wright against Peter Quillin and Leo Santa Cruz taking on Vusi Malinga, but Austin believes it will be the one most remembered by those at the gate and fans watching at home: “It’s going to be a great night of fights and I feel like me and Delvin are going to be the show-stealers.”
Breaking down his contest with Rodriguez, Trout said: “We know Delvin is a very high-action, fast-paced fighter, so we’re going to have to take that pace and step it up a notch. We need to keep our combinations moving and our footwork. We need to use our feet. We don’t want to stay right in front of him, but we don’t want to run either.
“I think this is the hardest fight to date that I’ve had in my career. Delvin is a world class fighter. I’ve watched him on TV as a fan and I know the type of challenge that’s coming forward. This is the toughest fight of my life [because] Delvin doesn’t fight the same every fight. He changes his style and he adapts. He’s a smart fighter. I don’t think I’ve ever fought anybody that has the diversity that Delvin does.”
Trout, though, prepared for a multi-dimensional prizefighter by varying the styles of those he sparred with during training camp: “We [got] ready with a bunch of different styles of sparring partners. In case he wants to box, we work on cutting the ring off. If he wants to bang, we have an idea that we want to do for that. We make our own camp diverse.”
Rodriguez concurred with Trout’s assessment about the quality of their match-up: “It’s going to be a great fight. I have respect for him; he’s an undefeated champion [but] I’m hungry for a world title. I just got to do what I do. I have to go in there and put my combinations together. I haven’t had any problems against lefties. He has good movement, always aware of where he is in the ring [and] a fine champion [with] a lot of skills. I’m facing someone that I know I can’t make any mistakes [against] and I definitely cannot look past him.”
Whilst Rodriguez is solely focussed on what he will be looking at from the blue corner to the red on fight night, Trout is hoping the Showtime appearance could lead to unification fights in the future: “I want to get the rest of those belts,” he said.
“To be the true champion, you have to have them all. I’m looking at Canelo [Saul Alvarez], I’m looking at K9 [Cornelius Bundrage] and, of course, everybody is looking at Floyd [Mayweather], but first I got to get past Delvin to make any of this possible. I look at Delvin as the gatekeeper. He’s the one who’s going to let me in or deny me. I have to get through him to get those other belts.”