Thirty-eight-year-old Austin Trout is in that hard spot, of thinking he might have one more run left or sitting back and being able to rest in the knowledge he has had an exceptional career.
Trout hit a career high when he defended his world super-welterweight title against Miguel Cotto in Madison Square Garden, although he lost the belt in his next defence to Canelo Alvarez.
Trout now has 37 wins against five losses and a draw. The defeats have all come in good company, to Canelo, Erislandy Lara, the Charlo twins and Jarrett Hurd.
He defeated Omir Rodriguez in Germany in an eight-rounder earlier this year, when he had his first fight in 10 months on October 14.
Trout is well-schooled on brain health and the risks associated with fighting on too long, but he knows when he retires there is no coming back, so he is reluctant to walk away just yet.
“I felt alright,” he said of the Rodriguez outing. “It’s been a year since I was able to get in the ring, so I always know how I look when I’m rusty, and I always look like an old Austin Trout, especially when he hasn’t had activity. And that’s what I felty like, rusty. A rusty boxer. I was in the gym, my sparring days were good, I don’t really have any bad sparring days and that’s when I’m feeling youthful.”
But there is much to be said for giving up something you have always known. Trout has been boxing for more than 25 years. He was a decorated amateur and he still feels he can beat almost anybody.
“It’s not really a sense of ability, I always feel I can beat most fighters, if it wasn’t just the elite, but it’s my love for the game,” he explained. “Is it as lucrative as it once was? Does my name carry as much weight? It’s kind of some things like that. The answer for me is I still love it, so I’m still doing it. My answer for me is my name is still respected in the game and I don’t want to tarnish that by fighting too long.”
It is a rough spot. What if Trout closes the door and misses on a last, big opportunity. What if he has more left in the tank? Trout has done a lot of brain work with neurologists over the years, but he is so passionate about the sport, he is not keen to close the door just yet, not as a fighter.
“I’m saying that it’s close to time,” he admitted. “I never want to put a timeline on it because, say I should stop before my appointed time and I should keep going for it, what if I’ve got a lot more left and I cut it off to prematurely. I’m just very aware… I’m looking at other things in life… and boxing’s still a part of it, in many ways.”
Trout spent much of his career as an Al Haymon fighter. He admits he did not know who Haymon was when they first met, despite having heard so much about him.
“I was always just in awe of Al Haymon,” Trout said. “The first time I met him, I just thought that boxing’s such a small alumni and I’m sure I’ve seen him somewhere. I’ve been in some of the major camps with some of the major promoters, he’s a major figure. I’m sure I’d run into him but when I got to meet him it was here in Houston and we’re sitting waiting and this kind of skinny, tall black guy walks in, I didn’t know he was a black man at all. Then I saw him, and he said, ‘Hi I’m Al’. And I’m like, ‘Oh shit, this is my guy. What’s up? What’s up, Al?’ And we sat down, he told me his story, I kind of told him my story and that was the day my life really changed. Nobody knew who I was, Al made me a household name. So I want to thank Al Haymon. Shout out to Al.”