LAS CRUCES -- Austin Trout flashed that same calm smile Wednesday night ... the same one he showed when he was making that heart-pounding ring walk last Saturday night in Madison Square Garden.
This time, though, Trout was truly relaxed -- inside and out -- as friends and fans celebrated his career-changing victory over Miguel Cotto with a reception at the Hotel Encanto. It was jam-packed, standing-room only.
They showed a replay of the 12th and final round, with Trout putting an exclamation point on his dominating unanimous decision victory by peppering a tired Cotto. Moments later, they showed famed announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. reading the judges' decisions -- 117-111 on two cards, 119-109 on a third.
"We had to go to some ugly places to get here," the WBA world junior middleweight champion said of his long journey, a journey that meandered all around the world before reaching the mecca that is Madison Square Garden. "Get comfortable, prop your feet up. We're going to be here for a while."
Trout and his team were on the podium -- trainer Louie Burke, athletic performance specialist Shukree Shabazz and camp coordinator Moose Gomez.
"I want to thank these guys and their families," Trout said. "Everybody has to sacrifice for me to pursue my dreams."
Burke, too, thanked the families: "They suffer as much as we suffer, they take every punch just like we take every punch. We trained for two months for this fight."
And the group moved to the altitude and isolation of Ruidoso for the entire month of November.
"I want to thank Austin for the privilege of working with him," Burke said. "It's been a joy watching him grow up from a 10-year-old to the best boxer in the world, in my opinion."
There has been plenty of talk about Trout's next fight, a possible showdown with popular Mexican fighter Saul "Canelo" Alvarez.
"I'd like to challenge the businessmen of Las Cruces to come up with the money that would bring Canelo to Las Cruces," Burke said. "I guarantee Aggie Stadium would be filled and there wouldn't be a hotel room empty in Las Cruces for a week. It would take two million dollars. But the eye of the world would be on Las Cruces for that week."
Shabazz, a former New Mexico State football player, said, "Austin was raised by this community and you all did a great job. He was my little brother before he was my boss."
And Gomez, who is also Burke's assistant, said, "Austin Trout is just an amazing, amazing person."
Trout took questions from his adoring crowd, that smile always firmly in place ... answering each question with care and ease.
When asked what was the last thing Cotto said to him, Trout responded, "He just said, 'Good job.' "
When asked what meant more, his winning the world title over Rigoberto Alvarez in February 2011, or his win over Cotto on Saturday night, Trout said, "My world title means the world to me. Becoming world champion was cool, but beating a legend in the Garden was really special."
When asked about the crowd, the 15,000 adoring Cotto fans, in Madison Square Garden, Trout said, "They booed like crazy when I came out. They cheered their heads off when he came out. But by the fifth or sixth round, they had nothing to say."
Someone asked what it was like being in Madison Square Garden: "When I first got in there in the ring, so many thoughts were racing through my head. Ali and Frazier fought here. Sugar Ray Leonard fought here. Some greats never even got a chance to fight here. Then I told myself to stop thinking, that it was time to focus."
Perhaps the cutest question of the night came from a tiny girl in a martial arts uniform: "What do I have to do to be a world champion like you someday?"
Trout quickly responded, "Three things -- believe in yourself, work hard and be determined to do it."
The world champion then found a spot in the corner and signed autographs and posed for pictures for everyone in attendance. It has been a whirlwind since he reached El Paso International Airport around 10:40 p.m. Monday night. He stayed at the airport until 12:30 that night, signing and posing, too.
Smiling all the way.
Bill Knight may be reached at email@example.com; 546-6171. Follow him on Twitter @BillKnightept