After a difficult 2013 in which he lost decisions in both of his fights, former junior middleweight titlist Austin Trout took off almost nine months before returning. That sort of layoff, however, is now a thing of the past for Trout.
Trout, who ended the layoff on Aug. 22 with a 10-round unanimous decision win against Australia's Daniel Dawson at the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, California, on ESPN2, will return to the same venue and network to face Luis Grajeda on Dec. 11.
The junior middleweight fight, which was signed on Monday, will be one of the bouts on an ESPN boxing special to honor late promoter Dan Goossen, who died Sept. 29 after brief battle with liver cancer. His company, Goossen Promotions, will put on the show.
"Pechanga Resort & Casino had always been one of Dan's favorite places to put on a show," said Goossen Promotions matchmaker Tom Brown, Goossen's brother-in-law, who is now running the company. "(ESPN's) Brian Kweder came to me with the idea, which I thought was great, and when I went to Pechanga. They were so accommodating they actually moved an event to help us make this special night happen."
Although the other bouts are not finalized, former two-time heavyweight title challenger Chris Arreola (35-4, 31 KOs), 33, of Riverside, California, is slated to be on the card in his first bout since Bermane Stiverne stopped him in the sixth round of their rematch to win a vacant world title in May. The leading candidate to face Arreola is Joe Hanks (21-2, 14 KOs), 31, of Newark, New Jersey, who has lost back-to-back fights.
A third fight also is likely to be added to the telecast, the rescheduled bout between heavyweights Johnathon Banks (29-2-1, 19 KOs) and Antonio Tarver (30-6, 21 KOs), the former light heavyweight world champion. They were scheduled fight on Sept. 29 in Hidalgo, Texas, but the bout was postponed after Tarver fractured his thumb training. Tarver, 45, of Tampa, would be returning from a 13-month layoff while Banks, 32, of Detroit, who also serves as the head trainer for heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, would be coming off an 18-month layoff following a decision loss to Seth Mitchell in their rematch.
Trout, 29, of Las Cruces, New Mexico, is happy to be fighting again relatively quickly since his last bout.
"The worst thing is when you're off for so long and then you have to go back in the gym and learn everything again," Trout told ESPN.com. "This is what I asked for. I'm glad they got me in before the year is over."
Trout is already in training in Washington, D.C., where he has been working out with junior welterweight titlist Lamont Peterson and his brother, lightweight contender Anthony Peterson.
"Things are going good and I am definitely excited to fighting again," Trout said. "It's a blessing. Now I don't have to worry about rust. I can work on getting better instead of having to re-learn some things."
Trout, a southpaw, got knocked down twice in the third round by Dawson, but also dropped him in the eighth round and won by unanimous decision to end two-fight losing streak. In April 2013, Trout lost a decision to Canelo Alvarez in their 154-pound world title unification fight and in December, he lost a more one-sided decision to Erislandy Lara in an interim title bout.
"In that fight (against Dawson) we had to knock some rust off and he showed us what we need to improve on, so we are working on some things," Trout said. "I'm working hard to get my base stronger."
Grajeda (17-3-2, 13 KOs), 27, of Mexico, is coming off a unanimous decision loss to contender Willie Nelson in a spirited fight on Aug. 8 on ESPN2. Trout said he doesn't know much about him.
"I have yet to even look him up," Trout said. "Now that he signed the contract I will check him out. I know he gave Willie a good fight so he's a good gauge for me to see where I'm at. I'm not far away (from another title fight). After this one we should be ready to jump in head first next year."