Austin Trout (31-5, 17 KO) and Terrell Gausha (21-1, 10 KO), a pair of American standouts after both having won amateur nationals, square off Saturday on FS1. It is the kind of domestic matchup that across the pond might quality for Britain’s Lonsdale Belt.
Instituted back in 1909, lifting the Lonsdale Belt is on the mind of any youngster in the United Kingdom. Winning it outright, after defending the British title three times, is what Bradley Skeete, of London, called a “boyhood dream” after he did just that in 2017.
The United States, after brief claims from the likes of the NABF and the USBA, does not recognize anything similar. Consider: The British title is a national crown and not regarded as anything more. Generally, a European title and especially a world title are seen as a notch or two above the Lonsdale Belt.
So Trout, the premier boxer out of New Mexico, and Gausha, the highest rated junior middleweight out of Ohio, would seem to fit the bill.
Gausha, for all his pedigree, was rushed into a title fight back in 2017. He was floored by Erislandy Lara with the WBA championship on the line, losing by a wide unanimous decision. Originally out of Ohio, and training out of California, Gausha wasted no time signing with Al Haymon after representing the US in the 2012 Olympics.
But he has not lived up to his decorated background, handed a loss in the biggest fight of his life, and proven a sucker for an overhand right. The 31-year-old was dropped by palookas Luis Hernandez (who owns eight losses) and William Waters (who retired with a record of 2-4).
Trout, though, has outperformed his humble beginnings. He is coming off a tight loss. Last summer, he nearly upended Jermell Charlo for the WBC super welterweight title, ultimately settling for a majority decision loss—with two knockdowns taking the fight out of his hands.
Still the New Mexico native has remained near the top of the 154-pound division since a short stint as its ruler in 2012 when he outboxed Miguel Cotto. The WBC considers the 33-year-old southpaw Top 10 in the world.
A look at the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board Top 10 reveals a weight class trying to balance itself out. After a recent masterclass from Julian Williams over Jarrett Hurd, the rest of the Top 5 is either slated for world title matchups (Americans Tony Harrison and Jermell Charlo) or the result of battles that could have went either way. Lara, for example, is still in the upper echelon for his sustained excellence despite Brian Castano extending him to a draw.
In any case, Trout is one of the odd men out. His close cards with Charlo not enough for top-10 placement. That leaves him a nick below world level. But not quite a journeyman or some tomato can, but something worthy of designation. Something like a British fighter felled by a world champion but still good enough to compete for a European championship.
While the sport is already rife with “championships,” a kind of stateside Lonsdale strap would only boost the regional matchmaking leading the charge in the UK, creating more avenues and money for fighters.
Given the two proclaimed American technicians fighting this weekend—one, glory past, the other never achieved—it would be an appropriate weekend to give the concept a shot.