When Austin Trout agreed to fight Erislandy Lara at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Saturday night, he knew having a chance to regain the WBA junior middleweight title wasn't going to be the only thing on his mind.
Trout, a native of El Paso, Texas, who resides in Las Cruces, N.M., has a strong connection to Brooklyn. His mother, MJ Johnson, and grandmother, Wilhelmina Johnson, grew up in Brooklyn and graduated from Sheepshead Bay High School.
Trout's connection to the borough grew even stronger May 26, his wedding day. But his grandmother died of a heart attack at the wedding shortly after he and his wife exchanged vows.
Being able to fight a quality boxer in Lara for a championship in Brooklyn was no small thing for Trout. "I don't think it's a coincidence," he said. "Not only do I get to fight in her hometown, but I get to fight for my belt."
Unfortunately for Trout (26-2), his Brooklyn connections couldn't carry him to victory. Lara (19-1-2) used his quickness and a solid jab game to score a 118-109, 117-110, 117-110 win.
Said Trout, "My preparation was fine. He was just a really slippery fighter. I had trouble getting my shots off . . . I'm coming right back. Who can say they fought high-caliber fighters like Miguel Cotto, Canelo Alvarez and Lara back-to-back-to-back? . . . His style is tricky, but I don't sign up for easy fights.''
Although Trout and his mother were pleased with the opportunity to return to Brooklyn and visit family, they knew the trip was going to have a different feel. "[My mother] was happy, but when the fight got closer, we both knew it wouldn't be the same going to Brooklyn without going to her house in Sheepshead Bay," Trout said of his grandmother. "But she is here in spirit. I'm a big believer in faith."
He said her death taught him a valuable life lesson. "I lost my belt about a month before she passed. So I was going through that loss," Trout said. "Then I lost my grandmother. It made me realize losing a belt was nothing compared to losing a loved one. It made me a stronger man in the sense in that I know where my priorities are."
Juan Dominguez improved to 16-0 with a unanimous-decision win (78-74, 79-73, 79-73) over Camilo Perez (9-2) in a featherweight bout. Light heavyweight Marcus Browne (8-0), a 2012 Olympian, scored a first-round knockout of Kevin Engel (20-9). Welterweight Sadam Ali (18-0) defeated Jesus Selig (12-2-1) with a sixth-round stoppage.
Sakio Bika (32-5-3) retained his WBC super middleweight title after battling Andre Dirrell (26-0-1) to a split-decision draw (114-112, 116-110, 113-113). Bika was knocked down in the fifth round but held the edge in punches landed (170-167) and power shots (143-138). Super welterweight Julian Williams (14-0-1) scored a third-round TKO over Orlando Lora (29-5-2).