‘’Everybody loves me back here. Everyone shows support and I can’t wait to bring the title back.’’
The date is set. The title is on the line. The stakes could not be higher for Minnesota’s Caleb Truax, who hopes to bring glory back to his home state. Fighting for the first time outside of the U.S, Truax talks exclusively to FightTalk.net on his upcoming world title challenge against IBF Super Middleweight champion, James Degale.
To most, it may seem as if this fight has appeared out of nowhere. The world-title double header announced by Frank Warren left IBF titlists James Degale and Lee Selby without a dancing partner for weeks longer than expected. Announcing an opponent three weeks before fight night is often viewed as bad practice, but Truax insisted that this was far from the case, as he recalled his version of recent events.
‘’I feel good. In the media, it seems like it’s a short notice fight because it’s just been announced for three weeks basically. I have known for just over a month, so I would have had seven weeks preparation come fight night. Everything is going along as scheduled. We got someone flown in from California to get some good work. We are getting good rounds in. I feel good.’’
In boxing, opportunities are few and far between. In an age where business and politics can take precedence over the skill of the fighter, Caleb Truax jumped at the opportunity that many would shy away. The possibility of fighting in unknown territory against an Olympic pedigree champion would strike fear into the hardest of contender; Caleb Truax thrives off the pressure.
‘’I fought in August and was looking for another fight before the year was done. We had our feelers out. A couple of opportunities arose. The first one fell through; then they [Frank Warren] made us the offer and I took it. I can’t turn down a world title fight. Now here we are.’’
Educated, measured, and calculated in his response, the magnitude of the challenge ahead of Truax did not phase the Minnesota man. Confident in his own methods and ability, the former world title challenger maintained his respectful approach as he began to divulge his thoughts on his opponent.
Daniel Jacobs, Anthony Dirrell and Jermain Taylor represent the only blemishes on the 34-year olds record. Household names in the boxing community, propping up a resume that would give today’s current crop of world champions a run for their money. Truax has tasted the top level, now he wants more.
‘’He [Degale] is a real good fighter. He doesn’t get to gold medallist and world champion, the point where he is at, if you weren’t a great fighter. So, it’s a tough test for me and I will have to be at my very best on the night. Then I will be able to measure him against the others I have been in with. He is a southpaw, so he is left handed. I have to prepare for that. I will be ready come 9th December and I am looking forward to showing the UK fans what I am about.’’
College educated and motivated to use boxing to pay off his student loan, Truax entered the game with modest ambitions. Almost 15 years later, the rollercoaster ride of Caleb Truax’s 28-3-2 career as a professional boxer, brings him to British shores. A new a challenge for a man who truly does take everything in his stride.
‘’I am excited man. One of my original goals was to be able to travel to different countries and get paid for it. I have always wanted to go over there to fight. I have never even been there to travel so it is a new experience and I am looking forward to it.’’
‘’The British boxing fans are awesome. They show a tonne of support for their fighters. It will be interesting to see what they think of me. If I beat Degale and take his title they might not like me so much! I will have to bring my A game because they know what is good and they know what’s up. I’m looking forward to it.’’
Many times, have I heard British boxers recall how adolescent pursuits in other sports other than boxing dominated their younger years. Across the pond, the story is no different, as Truax mused over the path that lead him to becoming a professional boxer.
‘’I started boxing late man. I had my first amateur fight when I was 19 or 20. I used to play football and baseball. When I went to college I hurt my knee. I was looking for something to do and I got into boxing. 14 years later, here we are.’’
A path that has lead him to new horizons. Advised by the boxing monolith of Al Haymon, opportunities have opened for the Minnesota man that could only have been dreamed of. But despite the dizzy heights of fighting for a world title in exotic new lands, Caleb Truax always remembers the strength of home and family.
‘’I have the same team since I first turned pro. It’s kind of a rarity these days as everyone jumps around. My head trainer is Tom Halstad. Guys like Ron Lyke [manager and training advisor] have always been there for me. Tony Gregor, Jim Marine and Warriors Boxing have helped me so much over the years. My strength and conditioning coach is Josh Hutton, a local guy who keeps me in shape and has my nutrition sorted before the fight.’’
‘’We are friends in and outside of the gym. We are a family.’’
Teaming with confidence, 9th December cannot come quick enough for the seasoned 168lbs campaigner. An opportunity to shine at the Copperbox Arena and to the wider British audience beckons. His voice did not flinch over the phone as he began to coolly gave the slightest of insights into his game plan for conquering James Degale.
‘’I’m going to try and put a lot of pressure on Degale. I am not too much into predictions, but I predict I am going to win. If I knock him out great, if I have to do to points that is fine too. I just know I’m going to give it my all and leave with the Super Middleweight championship belt. I’ll even get a pint in one of your pubs!’’
The World Boxing Super Series has forcefully changed the dynamic of the Super Middleweight and Cruiserweight divisions for the time being, with many versions of world titles being held by fighters locked into their next two bouts. With WBA and IBO champions, George Groves and Chris Eubank Jr, respectively holding parts of the coveted 168lbs jewellery, a win in December for either man, opens the door for a host of tantalising bouts and unification’s in 2018. Whilst I had the opportunity, I thought it wrong not to quiz Truax on his thoughts on the Sauerland backed, boxing extravaganza.
‘’I think Callum Smith is the favourite. I think Jurgen Braehmer looked good. He beat Rob Brant, a guy from Minnesota, a guy a know very well. Everyone said he was done but he looked fresh at the lighter weight. I think Groves beats Eubank. He has been in the game a long time. Eubank is very fit and throws power punches and Groves has the experience. It will be interesting. We will see.’’
The formidable figure of James Degale stands in the way of Caleb Truax and any dreams of future world title tangles. A hefty obstacle. But an obstacle that is willing to be climbed. The odds are stacked against him, but that’s the way he likes it. Caleb Truax makes his UK debut 9th December, and he is promising a big surprise.
Follow Caleb’s journey on Twitter: @GoldenCalebT
Written by Tom Humber