Saturday, April 10, 2010

Boxing column, April 10, 2010

By Felix Chavez
El Paso Times
EL PASO — While undefeated junior middleweight Austin Trout waits for his chance to fight the elite at 154 pounds, he is gaining some valuable experience in Youngstown, Ohio, training with middleweight king Kelly Pavlik.
Pavlik meets Sergio Martinez on April 17 in Atlantic City, N.J., in what is expected to be a hotly contested battle.
Trout has waited and waited for Japan’s Nobuhiro Ishida to defend his World Boxing Association interim title against the No. 1 ranked Trout.
So instead of waiting for Ishida, Trout has gotten in some valuable work with Pavlik. Trout is a valuable resource for Pavlik because of his quickness, solid boxing skills and craftiness in the ring. If Pavlik is able to hold off Martinez, then part of the credit should go to Trout.
Spending time as a sparring partner with Pavlik is better for Trout in the long run. Instead of facing an opponent, who won’t offer much in terms of experience, Trout gets to go against a champion who has fought some of the world’s best middleweights.
Trout can use that experience in his first big fight whenever it might come.
On May 7 in El Paso, featherweight Antonio Escalante returns to the ring to put his 23-2 record on the against rugged Carlos Ricardo Rodriguez of Argentina and his 22-3 record.
Escalante is now in the top five of two of the governing bodies in the featherweight division and he hopes to land a title shot later this year.
You can’t say Escalante doesn’t fight the top guys. In his career at 122 and 126, he’s battled the likes of Cornelius Lock, Miguel Roman, Mike Oliver, David Martinez, Gary Stark Jr. and Mauricio Pastrana.
Escalante still has plenty to prove after his last fight with Roman, which turned out to be one of the top fights on ESPN2 this year and one of the better fights on any television for that matter.
Roman came with his best effort against Escalante back in February and gave Escalante all he wanted. Escalante responded with a solid effort, but he’s going to have to step it up a notch at featherweight.
Escalante deserves a title shot and hopefully gets one by the end of the year. With that being said, Escalante can build on his positives and improve on a few things.
The positives are his work ethic, punch output and solid overall offensive game. Escalante must continue to improve his defense and become less of target for the bigger and stronger featherweights. That means more head movement and taking better angles when he gets in the ring.
Escalante has come a long way in his young career and is certainly a fan favorite in the borderland and probably is a fan favorite of those watching his fights on TV. If Escalante can make some key improvements in the coming months, he’s got more than a fair chance of winning a world title.

Felix Chavez can be reached at fchavez@elpasotimes.com; 546-6374