Austin Trout’s mom, Minnesa, and wife, Taylor, had hoped that the former world junior middleweight champion’s unanimous decision win over Jose Sanchez Charles in December of 2022 was going to be his last one. Frankly, there was nothing left to prove. Trout had been to the top of the mountain, beat the likes of Miguel Cotto, David Lopez and Delvin Rodriguez, while also sharing the ring with Canelo Alvarez, the Charlo brothers, Erislandy Lara and Jarrett Hurd. He was even on a six-fight unbeaten streak since a majority decision loss to Jermell Charlo in June of 2018. It was a career well fought and the perfect time to go out.
Or was it? “I found out recently that my mother has been waiting for me to retire,” said Trout. “And my wife has already been telling me, ‘You’re going to be done by 35?’ So both of them both were like, ‘Hey, when are we going to retire? Because we kind of are going through this with you.’ And then I sprung it on them. ‘Hey guys, so about that retirement, it’s not happening. Also, I’m going to go ahead and jump in this bareknuckle fighting.’” Yes, at 38, Trout is now a bareknuckle boxer, preparing for his second trip into the BKFC ring this Friday to face unbeaten Luis Palomino for the promotion’s welterweight title. A year ago, Trout debuted in his new discipline with a fourth-round stoppage of former UFC star Diego Sanchez, and much to his family’s chagrin, he’s all-in. “They were just like, ‘Oh my God, are you really trying to make us age faster than we have to? Even my daughter was like, ‘I don’t like it. This is not what I signed up for. So none of ’em liked it. They were so happy when I came out unscathed in my first fight. And honestly, my mother and my wife, they’re not going to let me do this long if I come back with a messed-up face. So I got to come out of this fight pretty, too, if I want to keep fighting.” Trout laughs, clearly enjoying the opportunity to win another title this week. “It’s not a bad game,” he said. “It helps me feel like more of a complete ninja, so to speak.”
Well, not completely. I ask if he’s been pulled into a mixed martial arts gym yet. “I was just moving with MMA guys today, as a matter of fact,” Trout responds. Well, that shut me up. But is the “No Doubt” Trout also considering a foray into MMA? “No, I’m going to stick to my sports of boxing and bare knuckle.” Yes, boxing is still in the picture, with a win over Omir Rodriguez in Germany last October keeping him busy in the sweet science. So he’s keeping his options open.
“I’m looking for a good fight,” he said “I’m on a six-fight win streak in boxing, but there’s nothing as lucrative as bareknuckle was offering. So if boxing can match that energy, I would be happy to go back Until then, I’m about to be a BKFC champion.” The confidence is clear, yet it’s backed with hard work in the gym to learn the nuances of the sport. Trout isn’t just assuming that success in one discipline will carry into a new one, and that’s a mistake a lot of his peers made when taking the gloves off. “I think they thought, ‘Well, I know boxing, so I don’t need to know nothing else.’ And they didn’t prepare for a bareknuckle fight,” he said. “When there’s different rules and things that are allowed that aren’t allowed in boxing, if you don’t practice it, somebody can use that as an advantage and keep that advantage. There’s a little more to it than just throwing hands. And so I prepared for the holding, the hitting, the dirty boxing, the clinching. And in the first fight, I feel like it helped me out because in the first round I initiated the clinch with Diego and I bodied him in that clinch and he never tried to clinch again, when that was his best bet. Same thing for Palomino. I know he is going to come and try to hold and hit and make it ugly. And so I have to be ready to defend it or to thrive in it. And that’s what we’ve been doing. Yeah, I got hands and I know how to throw these hands, but it may or may not be enough. If it’s enough, great; we ain’t got to worry about none of that other stuff. I’ll keep ’em out with my feet and my hands. If it’s not enough, I’m either going to be screwed or I’ll be prepared. I’d rather be prepared.” That work ethic, world-class experience, and the willingness to still learn makes Trout a dangerous man, even as he closes in on the big 4-0. And yeah, the money’s good, but you get the impression that Trout wants this new title for his own personal history book. And, at the same time, he’s opening the door for other boxers looking to take their stab at a new sport. “It’s not a bad legacy to become a two sport, two-time world champion,” he said. “It’s nothing to scoff at. And bareknuckle is not a sport that everybody’s just jumping on board to try to join. It takes a special someone. I asked some of my fellow fighters if they were down to do that. Most of them were like ‘Hell no, absolutely not.’ So to go and become a world champion in my second fight, in this sport that a lot of fighters are afraid to join, that’s got to say something about my legacy as a whole.”
It does, but if he does pick up a title on Friday, that doesn’t mean he’ll believe he’s mastered the art of bareknuckle fighting. And maybe that is the secret to his success. “Honestly, I’m real hard on myself, so I feel like I still ain’t necessarily got it; I’m just getting better at it,” Trout said. “So I’m still learning. Today, I was in an MMA class and we drilled a lot of close infighting where we controlled the head, controlled the hands, and used the shoulders to create space, little things like that. So I was working it and I was getting in a good groove today with my partner, but I don’t feel like I necessarily have it yet. I still got to work on it, but I feel like it’s gotten better to the point where I’m comfortable in it. It may take years before I feel like I’ve mastered it, though.” Years? Not good news for the ladies of the Trout family. “Well, as long as I love this and I’m healthy, I’m 38 years young, so how long do I feel like I can be doing this? We’ll see. Right now, I feel good. So I’m not putting a number on it.” And who knows, mom might actually come around. Trout tells a story about Miss Minnesa.
“My very first fight, I was 10 years old, and my mother was taken out,” he laughs. “She was crying, she couldn’t handle it. So the first fight I had, she was escorted out of the building. Fast forward to my pro career, and she was my biggest fan. She’s taking buses down to Mexico to watch me fight, and I told her, ‘Ma, please, come on.’ It was the height of the cartel war at the time, and she’s taking buses down to Mexico to watch me fight. She was like, ‘Nah, I can’t miss it.’ So when I told her, ‘Mom, I would rather you not come,’ her response was, ‘Look, I grew up in Brooklyn in the sixties, seventies and eighties. I’m not worried about the cartel war.’” “All right,” said Trout, one fighter to another.