A raucous atmosphere awaits Miguel Cotto and Austin Trout when they walk into Madison Square Garden on Saturday night to battle for Trout's WBA light-middleweight title.
Cotto (37-3 with 30 KOs) is the savvy veteran and future Hall of Famer who has nothing to lose, fighting in front of a heavily pro-Cotto crowd at the Garden.
Trout (25-0 with 14 KOs) is the upstart youngster who is determined to prove that his name belongs in the same sentence as those considered to be the best fighters in the world.
Let's take a look at what each fighter needs to do to walk out of the World's Most Famous Arena with the WBA light-middleweight championship around his waist.
Keys For Miguel Cotto
The last thing Cotto wants tonight is for the fight to take place in the center of the ring.
Cotto must keep Trout on the ropes so that he can go to work inside, taking away Trout's reach advantage and making the youngster's jab a virtual non-factor.
Turning Trout's long arms into a hindrance by keeping things tight and close is the most important thing Cotto can do to ensure victory.
Allowing Trout to land jabs and keep distance between the two could end with catastrophic results for Cotto, who, while he has superior firepower to his opponent, cannot afford to fight Trout's fight.
Keys for Austin Trout
The champion is looking to do everything that Cotto will try to prevent him from doing.
Trout, who has the reach advantage, simply cannot allow Cotto to force him to the edges of the ring and get inside when he finds himself up against the ropes.
His jab is his biggest weapon, and he must keep his distance so that he can use it effectively against the harder-hitting veteran.
Trout has never faced someone as powerful as Cotto, and finding out whether his chin can withstand a flurry from Cotto is not something that he should be in a rush to discover.
My gut tells me that Trout wins this one, but I can't shake the feeling that this fight is going to come down to the judges' scorecards—and that the heavily pro-Cotto crowd will prove to be the one opponent that Trout can't dispatch.
Cotto wins a split decision.
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