This Saturday night, Madison Square Garden in New York City will host what should be another captivating title fight, this time for the WBA Light Middleweight crown. Again, odds makers have installed the challenger as the favorite to exit the ring with another world title.
Four time world champion in three different weight classes Miguel Cotto (37-3, 30 KO’s) is currently listed as high as a -250 betting favorite against undefeated titlist Austin Trout (25-0, 14 KO’s), who will be defending his WBA gold for the fourth time.
Obviously it’s Cotto who enters the ring as the headliner for this event and we can expect a celebratory atmosphere at the Garden. The Puerto Rican boxing icon continues to be one of boxing’s biggest draws especially when fighting in front of his legion of loyal fans in NYC.
Five of his last eight fights have taken place inside historic MSG or Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. So it’s no secret which of the two fighters will have the home crowd in their favor. It may be an enormous advantage for Cotto, the challenger, as we’ve seen plenty of judges get swayed in the past.
Cotto last fought in May of this year against the No. 1 pound for pound fighter in the world Floyd Mayweather Jr. Though he lost by a unanimous decision, Cotto did have his moments throughout the bout, something few boxers can claim against Mayweather.
Ultimately, superior boxing skills won out and that is what Cotto will need to avoid against another very efficient boxer like Trout. For Cotto, the game plan has to revolve around forcing Trout to stand and trade. He’ll have the power advantage in this bout and will need to limit the distance and keep this fight in a phone booth, using his skills inside to break Trout down and ultimately land the big shot.
Don’t get me wrong, Cotto has shown us against the likes of Shane Mosley that he’s able to box with the best of them. At age 31, after being in so many wars, his speed won’t overwhelm the 27- year- old Trout.
The champion Trout knows he’ll need to check his ego before walking into the ring and not allow this fight to become a test of wills and chins. Instead, he’ll need to fight smart by using his speed to outbox and outwork Cotto to not fall behind early on the scorecards.
Trout is a southpaw with an impressive amateur background which consists of winning the U.S. National Amateur Championship as a welterweight, and he was also a runner-up for the 2004 U.S, Olympic team. Eight of his last nine victories as a pro have come via decision, with all but one being unanimous. This, coupled with his low KO ration supports the fact Trout does not possess the one punch finishing power of Cotto.
That does not suggest this isn’t a winnable fight for the champion, just the opposite. It proposes Trout will need to use his speed, height, and reach advantages to dictate how the fight will play out.
I have little doubt the betting line is a reflection of perception rather than actual data and definitely not taking into account how these two match up stylistically.
I believe this was a bad fight for Cotto’s handlers to allow due to a lack of upside at this point in his career. Granted he has the chance to win another world title in front of his fans in NYC, but Trout poses too big of a risk. If Cotto is unable to finish Trout by the middle rounds, then he may be in for a very long night against what my research shows to be a very capable opponent.
Look for Cotto to abandon his jab early and land the big shot in hopes of getting Trout out of there, while the champion continues to pile up points and stay out of harms way. Do not be surprised if Trout lands enough of his own blows to open up some of the scar tissues that have bothered Cotto in the past.
The opportunity to hit and not be hit will be there for the taking and though Cotto trumps the title holder when it comes to experience in big fights, watching Trout’s last few bouts in preparation for this column, I’m convinced he’s for real.
Making money betting is the result of isolating value and taking the best of it when it becomes available…ensuring that long-term that edge will produce a profit. Since everything points to the outcome of this fight being more or less a coin-flip, getting +210 on heads or tails is surly he value side.
Pick: Trout +210
If you missed last week’s title fight between WBC welterweight champion Robert Guerrero and Andre Berto, I urge you to catch the replay on HBO as soon as possible.
Berto is no stranger to exciting fights, having gained 2011 “Fight of the Year” honors in defeat against Victor Ortiz. Both men showcased exactly what it means to be a “warrior.” It’s a term that gets tossed around plenty in the fight game, but rest assured if any fighter has ever earned the right to wear that label, it’s the two boxers who squared off and laid it all on the line for the privilege of wearing the WBC strap.
The underdog (Guerrero) offered up the best of it as far as betting the fight was concerned. I noted that historically when the challenger (Berto) is listed as the favorite, it’s almost always a telling sign who the better fighter truly is. But I also stated that at times, the challenger is installed as the favorite due to “name recognition” rather than being warranted based on being the dominant fighter.
V-R Record: 80-48 (63%)
(Over two years at Pregame.com)
Vegas-Runner, a pro sports bettor in Las Vegas, has been featured on CNBC/ESPN. Follow him on Twitter@vegasrunner, at Pregame.com and on AM 1100 ESPN (also FM 98.9) on Fridays and Sundays from 11 pm to midnight when he co-hosts First Preview. Contact Vegas Runner at [email protected].