‘Charlo’s power will surprise Canelo:’ Former Canelo & Charlo opponent Austin Trout breaks down 2023 boxing fight

When the best take on the best in boxing, there are few sporting events to match it. That will certainly be the case when Canelo Alvarez and Jermell Charlo clash at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on September 30. The 12-round bout, plus undercard action, will air on Showtime PPV in the U.S.

Canelo, the defending undisputed super middleweight champion, looks to add to his impressive resume and rubberstamp his pound-for-pound credentials. Meanwhile, Charlo, holder of all the belts at super welterweight, bids to join Claressa Shields and Terence Crawford as two-weight undisputed rulers. With a combined record of 94-3-3, including 30 world title bouts, these fighters have faced the very best.

Many fans and experts have analyzed the matchup and think they have all the answers. However, only one individual can truly say what the strengths and weaknesses of both fighters are. The only common opponent of Canelo and Charlo is the classy former WBA super welterweight champion, Austin Trout. 

MORE: Fightin’ Words: Previewing Canelo vs. Charlo

“For Canelo, it was his footwork [that was a weakness],” Trout told The Sporting News in an exclusive interview. “He’s gotten better. I wouldn’t say his footwork is his strength, but it’s not so much of a weakness.

“Charlo’s biggest weakness is his inactivity. He’s looked good in his last few fights, but he’s just been inactive. On the flip side, Canelo’s been active, but he ain’t been looking good in his last few fights.”

Trout turned pro in 2005 and has amassed a 35-5-1 record. He dropped decisions to both men, losing the WBA title to Canelo in 2013, and a WBC title shot to Charlo in 2018.

Per CompuBox, Canelo landed 124 of 431 punches in their fight (29%), while Trout landed 154 of 769 shots (20%). Trout only landed single-digit shots twice, with Canelo more accurate in power punches (43% compared to 27%). Against Charlo, who landed 130 of 474 (27%) shots, Trout scored 117 of 490 (24%) blows. 

Facing Canelo, Trout was knocked down for the first time in his career in the middle rounds, but he was never close to being stopped. When facing Charlo, Trout was dropped in round three but quickly recovered. He gave Charlo trouble later in the fight but was down again in round nine. His effort was enough for one judge to score the bout a draw at 114-114.

All these years later, who does Trout think was the tougher opponent of the two? 

“I feel like I outboxed Charlo, definitely, but I was on the back foot a lot,” Trout said. “For Canelo, I kind of had to walk him down because he was on the back foot. It was a different tactic for both of those fighters. I will say this: even though Canelo dropped me in the fight, I walked that man down. I was never worried or concerned about his power. Charlo, I ain’t ever come forward on Charlo. I was on the back foot the whole time. That was the game plan… that’s what we had to do to get rounds in the bag.

“Charlo was definitely the stronger fighter. That was at 154. It was maybe four-five years after I fought Canelo.”

After the Trout fight, Charlo lost the WBC super welterweight title to Tony Harrison in 2018 but regained it the following year. He beat Jeison Rosario for the IBF and WBA belts in 2020 and fought Brian Castano to a draw in 2021. He then knocked Castano out in May 2022 to become the undisputed champion. 

Meanwhile, Canelo lost to Floyd Mayweather immediately after facing Trout but bounced back in style by going 17-1-1 and establishing himself as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. The Mexican star became the unified middleweight titleholder and claimed light heavyweight gold before settling as the undisputed super middleweight champion.

MORE: Should Tyson Fury be stripped of the heavyweight title?

It has been a dominant few years for both, and Trout has seen significant improvements in their fighting style since he faced them.

“I think Charlo’s ring IQ has gotten better since I fought him,” acknowledged the former champ. “He’s been able to make adjustments mid-fight. As I said before, Canelo, his footwork has gotten a lot better. He picks his punches. Canelo’s ring IQ has definitely grown since the Mayweather fight, I would say, tremendously.”

Both fighters have recently had issues with their hands. Charlo injured himself while training for a fight against WBO mandatory challenger Tim Tszyu before switching his sights to Canelo. As a result of the opponent switch, the WBO will strip Charlo of their title when the first bell rings, paving the way for Tszyu to face Brian Mendoza in October for the vacant crown. Canelo underwent hand surgery following his third fight with Gennadiy Golovkin, in September 2022.

Returning to action in May 2023, many felt Canelo was lackluster in a decision win over John Ryder. At 33, the four-weight world champ has been through wars and he was soundly beaten by WBA light heavyweight champ Dmitry Bivol in May 2022.

On the latest episode of Fightin’ Words, The Sporting News’ Andreas Hale and Karisa Maxwell asked if the Canelo era is coming to an end. Meanwhile, Trout feels that Canelo’s weight hopping has been more of an issue and is less inclined to close the curtains on the former pound-for-pound No. 1.

MORE: Sporting News Boxing pound-for-pound rankings

“He’s fighting out of his weight class. I don’t think it’s fair to say he’s declining in power,” said Trout. “He’s been fighting in super middleweight and light heavyweight, that’s not his size. I don’t want to say that his power’s declined. Has his skills declined? It’s hard to say. You can’t say somebody who had a bad night but still won is declining. Maybe it was just a bad night. We’ll see. He can’t have a bad night with Charlo because Charlo will win decisively if he does. If he ain’t on his s—, then Charlo’s gonna sneak around and get that fight.”

Per BetMGM, Canelo is a -350 favorite while Charlo is a +275 underdog. Part of the reason Canelo is the favorite is because Charlo is moving up two weight classes to face the Mexican warrior. Historically, that kind of jump has not been kind to fighters, as we witnessed when Kell Brook moved up two weights to face Golovkin in 2016. Will Charlo’s speed and power transition well at super middleweight?

Another factor heading into fight night is Las Vegas, which has been kind to Canelo in recent years. There has been evidence of favoritism for the champion in Sin City (see scorecards for Mayweather, Golovkin, Erislandy Lara, and Bivol), so it’s fair to suggest that “Iron Man” must win this showdown decisively.

Regarding the fight’s outcome, who does Trout think has the edge?

MORE: Remembering Mayweather vs. Canelo 10 years later

“I don’t think that (the weight gain is) going to be a problem for Charlo,” Trout said. “I don’t know how he made 154. He’s bigger than Canelo, in my opinion, naturally anyway. I don’t think the size is necessarily going to be a problem. I think Charlo’s power will surprise Canelo a bit. I’m not saying Charlo’s got more power than GGG, but I think he’s up to par. He hits hard, and he’s up there. 

“Charlo will be the underdog. I don’t know about betting, but in the arena, he’s not going to be the favorite. I don’t think anyone’s knocking anybody out in this fight. I believe Charlo has the ability to win, but again, we still don’t know about that activity. Historically, Canelo does not tend to lose close fights. Do I see Charlo beating the dog s— out of Canelo? Not likely, but I think he can. I think it’s possible. Charlo will probably deserve a win but may not get it.”

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