Las Cruces boxer Austin Trout has won a victory in United States District Court.
The victory, though, represents just one round in his long legal battle with the World Boxing Organization.
On Friday, the First Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a ruling by the U.S. District Court in Puerto Rico that would have allowed the WBO to appoint the arbitrators tasked with settling a dispute between Trout and the Puerto Rico-based sanctioning body.
The story was first reported by mmapayout.com.
“This is a big win for all fighters!” Trout (32-5-1, 18 knockouts), the former WBA junior middleweight champion, posted on Twitter.
Trout sued the WBO in 2015, claiming the organization dropped him from its rankings in order to deprive him of a junior-middleweight title shot that, he believed, based on the WBO’s own rules, should have been his.
The WBO had argued, successfully, that the dispute should go to arbitration. Trout appealed the ruling, noting that, according to its rules, the WBO awarded itself the ability to select the arbitrators.
This amounted, Trout argued, to a stacked deck and a violation of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act of 2000.
On Friday, the Court of Appeals ruled that the WBO was not entitled to select the arbitrators and sent the case back to District Court.
Trout’s Puerto Rican attorney, Miguel J. Ortega-Nuñez, in a news release, called the ruling “a great victory for Mr. Trout and boxing in general. However, there is still a very long road ahead in order to bring the Muhammad Ali Act to its full potential. … We are ready for the next round.”
Trout’s dispute with the WBO is rooted in his disappearance from the organization’s ratings in 2015, after the organization stripped Demetrius Andrade of its junior-middleweight title for lack of activity.
At the time, Trout was the WBO’s fourth-ranked challenger. Two of the fighters ranked ahead of him, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Michel Soro, were unavailable. Thus, Trout stated in his original lawsuit, he should have been allowed to fight for the vacant title according to WBO rules.
Instead, the WBO dropped Trout from its rankings, elevated Liam Smith in the rankings and matched Smith against John Thompson in a fight — won by Smith — for the title.
Trout, now 34, won the WBA title by defeating Rigoberto Alvarez (Canelo’s older brother) in February 2011. After three successful defenses, he lost a title-unification bout (WBA-WBC) to Canelo Alvarez.
Since, Trout has had three junior-middleweight title fights, losing all three. None of those bouts involved the WBO.
He last fought in February, defeating Rosbel Montoya (17-10-1) by second-round TKO at the Inn of the Mountain Gods in Mescalero.