Austin “No Doubt” Trout returned on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights to win a unanimous decision against the game Aussie, Daniel “Awesome” Dawson. Trout bounced back from two knockdowns in the third that initially left doubts about his fighting future, but saw him find his confidence and inner beast to dominate the rest of the fight and even knocked down an injured and unlucky Dawson in the Eighth.
This was a must win fight for Trout. Three losses in a row would put serious doubts on his career and more importantly, it could have broken him mentally.
“2013. Well you know, 13 is a bad number and it was definitely a bad year. Um I took my first loss, in April, against Saul Alvarez. Not only that it was my first loss, it was also the first time I touched the canvas, and um, you know, boxing fans and critics are very, very tough on you, you know, especially when you put your heart out in this game and you risk and, you risk everything, and you sacrifice so much, and then for people to write you off because of you know, that night. I followed up with a consecutive loss against Erislandy Lara; you know back-to-back losses is real hard to swallow. You know even your first loss is hard to swallow and the only good part about that year was I got married, and you know so, it’s bittersweet because at my wedding, my grandmother died at the wedding so at the same time the best day of my year ended up becoming one of my worst days.”
At the end of the ESPN interview Trout says he’s back, but his tone and lacklustre eyes are derived from someone trying desperately to convince himself that the chapter of heartbreaks, disappointments and doubts are over.
Considering his situation, Dawson seemed like the right opponent for Trout. Dawson was supposed to be the rope for Trout to climb out of his rut; a 36 years old (Trout is 28) with a 4-inch reach disadvantage and little experience in the top tiers of boxing. He was rocked hard by a 38 year old in his previous fight and had been TKOd by a southpaw (Trout is a southpaw) in his only other fight in the US. Not only that, with a record of 40 wins (26 by KO), 4 losses and 1 draw, Dawson looked decent at a glance and the honourable Trout would feel dignified with the win. What team Trout didn’t anticipate was Dawson’s fortitude and marriage to a solid game plan.
For many, the game plan goes out the window when they get hit, not with Dawson. His toughness which has led him to titles in Muay Thai-Boxing, Kick-Boxing and lesser titles in boxing meant there was no wavering of resolve. Dawson is also a man that knows his limitations. He knew he couldn’t match Trout’s speed and work rate so he spent most of the fight posturing and evading punches in an attempt to lure Trout out of his counter punching comfort zone.
It worked, as Dawson scored a knockdown with a flash counter straight right in the third. However, he had no follow up plan and didn’t jump on Trout at this advantageous point. An embarrassed and bitter Trout came forward to try to even the round but was knocked down again with another counter right. Again a lack of follow up saw Trout surviving the round. This dramatic round saw Dawson landing a total of just FIVE punches!
The rest of the fight was all Trout. He won the next few rounds purely due to Dawson’s inactivity and in round 7, Trout accidentally stepped on Dawson’s foot mid-exchange causing Dawson to grimace and limp away.
Dawson kept fighting but injured (a supposed tear in his calf muscle) and gassed from the accumulation of body punches, was a spent force. Trout smelt blood and stalked and mauled him, knocking him down in round 8 with a check jab followed by a massive left right combination. It was the first time Dawson has been down in his pro boxing career. Dawson got up and showed courage in the face of defeat but there was no contest.
Trout won a unanimous decision, 97-90 on all scorecards. An exciting fight, but unfortunately for Trout, it was due to his vulnerability. Trout seems to have finally found some luck and confidence but it also further exposed his limitations when he failed to knock out the injured and seriously outclassed Dawson.
Respect to the truly Awesome Dawson. He showed the heart of a warrior and almost came through with the upset of the year (25-1 odds at Las Vegas).
Trout using his reach advantage to throw touching jabs to the body and head. Throws a straight left-right-left two thirds of the way in and as Dawson offers little in return, Trout starts unloading a few combinations. A check right hook with a short left sneaking its way between the gloves for the best punch of the round. Dawson stayed compact and evaded most punches with lateral movement or blocked punches with his gloves.
Trout 10-9 round (10-9 Trout)
Dawson is catching most jabs with his gloves. Trout is starting to throw straight lefts to the body and finishing off a few combos with right hooks and uppercuts. Trout at the end of the round gets Dawson on the ropes and lands a nice straight left after missing a few punches. Trout slips near the end of the round as Dawson throws and misses with a few straight rights.
Trout 10-9 round (20-18 Trout)
More of the same in round 3. Dawson’s not throwing enough and staying very compact, unwilling to take many risks, waiting to catch Trout. Trout takes a couple of steps back whenever Dawson swings and then comes back into range to throw his own. Trout’s getting into a rhythm and his confidence and punch output is going up. Suddenly, as trout throws a tentative straight left to the body, Dawson throws a flash straight right and knocks Trout down. Trout gets up and comes back to Dawson with jabs and slowly gets back into his rhythm. At this advantageous point, Dawson doesn’t jump on him and barely throws a punch. As Dawson jumps in, Trout lands a nice right hook on him. Trout jumps in with a right uppercut and follows up with a missed straight left. Dawson counters with another straight right and Trout goes down again! Trout gets up again and with little follow up, the bell ends on a revealing round. Throughout the drama, Trout doesn’t look significantly hurt.
Dawson 10-7 round (28-27 Dawson)
Both fighters circling each other, throwing jabs without any intention. A couple of insignificant power punches thrown from each side. Both fighters seem to be waiting for the other to make the first move. Dawson throws his first uppercut of the fight. Trout is regaining his confidence and starts throwing frequently to the body and head.
Trout 10-9 (37-37)
More of the same in round 5. Trout throwing a few jabs trying to set something up, Dawson circling and trying to catch punches whilst waiting for Trout to make a mistake or leap in. Trout cutting the distance and throwing punches with some intention. Nothing-significant landing for either side but purely due to Dawson’s inactivity, it’s another Trout round.
Trout 10-9 Round (47-46 Trout)
Trout comes out with more energy this round and throws punches with more speed and venom. Dawson throws a few punches in the first half of the round, which Trout easily avoids by taking a step back. Most of Trout’s punches aren’t landing but he does land a few straights to Dawson’s body. Dawson rushes Trout into the ropes and lands a short right and trout quickly clinches. As the ref tries to pull them apart, Dawson holds onto the ropes around Trout. Dawson unloads a combo that mostly misses apart from a straight left. As the round nears the end, Dawson unloads, hitting Trout to the body but Trout counters with a couple of body punches and a nice powerful straight left. The end of the round is punctuated with Dawson on the ropes, rushing off them with a few punches but easily countered with a Trout counter right.
Trout 10-9 Round (57-55 Trout)
Dawson trying to engage a bit more but Trout using distance to throw off Dawson’s momentum. Dawson seems stuck in a game plan that is no longer working. Trout looking more confident, starts to unload power shots on Dawson and is starting to land frequently. Trout seems to have figured out Dawson and is avoiding all of Dawson’s counter straight rights with ease. 40 seconds to go in the fight, Trout accidentally steps on Dawson’s foot in an exchange. Dawson limps away and the ref asks him “what’s wrong? You can’t do this.” Dawson signals that he’s okay to fight and the ref starts up the action again. Trout steps in as Dawson, clearly uncomfortable from the injury, covers up and Trout lands a right uppercut that snaps back the head of Dawson. The end of the round sees more of an exchange but the flurry of punches mostly miss apart from a small counter by Dawson and a couple of straight lefts from Trout.
Trout 10-9 round (67-64 Trout)
Trout has found more energy and his killer instinct. Trout lands a few punches and seeing very little reaction from Dawson, unloads a combination of right upper cuts and straight lefts most of which have effect or land. Trout is feeling the energy and is bouncing around with a good rhythm. He steps in with a check jab followed by a massive left right combination that drops Dawson. The first time Dawson’s been down in his pro career. Dawson gets up and amongst the excitement, Trout edges towards Dawson and unloads with some controlled power punching, most miss but a few land. Dawson is evading and moving away well but he doesn’t look good. Trout lands a nice uppercut but is gassed out and it goes back to a measured pace. Trout’s looking spritely and is stalking Dawson. Dawson rushes in and misses with a few punches, Trout counters and lands a couple more before the end of the round.
Trout 10-8 round (77-72 Trout)
Trout is full of energy and he’s bouncing on his toes to a paced rhythm. Dawson looks spent and Trout jumps all over him after Dawson throws a weak jab, mauling him against the ropes, landing powerful punches through and around Dawson’s guard. Trout’s killer instinct kicks into full gear, pressuring the wounded Dawson and confidently chasing him down with an array of power punches, many of which are snapping back the head of Dawson. Dawson throws a punch here and there and one lands but it lacks any snap. It’s all Trout in terms of effectiveness and Dawson is breathing heavy, winging a few wide and tired punches.
Trout 10-9 round (87-81 Trout)
A continuance of round 9, Trout is stalking Dawson and lands a nice straight to the body. He throws a flurry that mostly misses and at one point Dawson lands a nice counter right. A game Dawson throws a few punches but is countered by Trout. Trout controlling the round with jabs and the rest of the round is a bit of a skirmish which no significance.
Trout 10-9 round (97-90 Trout)
All three score cards are unanimous for Trout – 97-90.