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Analysis: New Mexico boxers Trout, Maldonado face weighty issue

Austin Trout of Las Cruces, right, easily won a junior middleweight bout Saturday, but his best shot at winning a title could come at welterweight. (Associated Press file)

Back in the 1970s, comedian Steve Martin drew mega-laughs with a routine and an album entitled “Let’s Get Small.”

For New Mexico boxers Austin Trout and Fidel Maldonado Jr., that’s good advice today — advice Trout has already taken for himself and that Maldonado is considering.

Saturday in Biloxi, Mississippi, Maldonado took a battering from rising star Michel Rivera en route to a loss by 10th-round TKO. The bout was contested at the 135-pound lightweight limit.

That same night at the Inn of the Mountain Gods in Mescalero, near Ruidoso, Trout outclassed and overpowered Mexico’s Rosbel Montoya en route to a victory by second-round TKO. The match was made at the 154-pound junior middleweight limit.

Both New Mexico left-handers, though, have expressed interest in moving to a lighter weight class.

Trout, in fact, is already more than halfway there. The former WBA junior-middleweight champion weighed in at a fraction over 149 pounds, two pounds above the welterweight limit, for Saturday’s bout.

If Trout (32-5-1, 18 knockouts) can safely make 147 — and we all know from our own lives that those last two pounds are the toughest — the remainder of the 34-year-old boxer’s career could benefit.

Maldonado, for most of his career, fought at the junior welterweight limit of 140 pounds. Having switched to a vegan diet, he began campaigning at lightweight and has talked about dropping to the junior lightweight limit of 130 pounds.

As with Trout, if Maldonado (27-5-1, 20 KOs) can safely get smaller, the 28-year-old’s career arc could change for the better at 130.

In Biloxi, Maldonado was overpowered by a younger and stronger fighter in Rivera (18-0, 12 KOs). It was a huge and precious career opportunity lost, and the defeat likely brings down the curtain on his hopes to be a factor in the lightweight division.

If he wishes, Maldonado could continue to campaign at lightweight on local shows promoted by Santa Fe’s Pat Holmes. Or, he could rent himself out for good money as “an opponent” at 135 pounds.

But if he still harbors hopes of contending for a world title, of re-inventing himself as a fighter as he approaches 30 years of age, 130 pounds clearly is the direction he should go.

Trout, meanwhile, has already gotten small. After his all-too-easy disposal of Montoya in the premier of the Impact Network’s TV boxing series, he called the roll of top welterweight contenders as opponents he’d love to fight.

At junior middleweight, Trout often was the smaller fighter — after post-weigh-in replenishment and rehydration — in his series of bouts against the best competition the division had to offer.

What kind of future the welterweight division holds for him is unclear at this point, Saturday’s walk-through offering no clue. But, as with Maldonado at lightweight, the junior-middleweight class now offers Trout a limited future — if any.

IMPACT REVISITED: The debut of boxing on The Impact Network, an enterprise devoted to Christian programming, was an act that will take some fixing.

It appears, though, that the network and boxing series creator Steven Marcano have the resources and the determination to do just that.

Trout’s main-event fight against Montoya (17-10-1, 13 KOs, but the loser in seven of his previous eight bouts), was what everyone expected only more so.

If anyone deserves an easy fight, it’s Trout, whose previous 16 opponents entered the ring with a combined record of 420-47-13. But his dismantling of the hapless Montoya did not make for good television.

Far worse was the night’s first televised fight, a heavyweight atrocity between out-of-shape fringe contender Alonzo Butler and doughnut-soft opponent Jesus Alberto Martinez Torres — who, for his own protection and that of future audiences, should not be licensed to fight.

Mercifully, Butler stopped Martinez Torres in the first round.

The telecast did include two relatively competitive (though not close on the scorecards) fights, one featuring unbeaten (22-0) El Paso junior lightweight Abel Mendoza.

For Impact and Marcano, the best news is their determination to jump right back into the fray. Their second show is scheduled for March 7 in Tennessee, with Albuquerque welterweight Josh Torres on the card.

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