At MGM Liquors in Champlin, Minnesota, the man behind the counter packs even more punch than the whiskey on the shelves.
Caleb Truax has worked here since he was an undergrad at the University of Minnesota, successfully pursuing a degree in sociology with minors in political science and African-American studies.
At the same time he was hitting the books, Truax began hitting the pads.
Now, after a hard, circuitous climb up the professional ranks, Truax (25-1-2, 15 KOs) is preparing for the biggest fight of career against Daniel Jacobs (28-1, 25 KOs) at Chicago’s UIC Pavilion on April 24, which will be broadcast on Spike TV at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
Already, the bout has been a game changer for Truax: Because of it, he’s quitting his part-time job after all these years to focus solely on boxing.
“After this fight, I’ll be able to box full time, which will be nice,” says Truax, taking in a Twins game on a recent Monday afternoon before hitting the gym for a training session.
Truax’s fighting style mirrors the man he is outside the ropes: He’s a heady, studious, blue-collar type who gets by on his wiles and work ethic.
He’ll wait an opponent out, parse his game and then gradually press the action to his benefit, looking for any openings to exploit.
He’s spent much time inside the classroom, and that’s exactly what he attempts to transform the ring into.
“I’ve been characterized as cerebral,” Truax says. “I like to figure guys out and fight really smart, use that to my advantage to try and counter.”
Truax never envisioned a career in boxing, originally enrolling at Virginia State to play football.
But then he blew out his knee, ending his career in the sport.
Back in his native Minnesota, Truax entered a local Toughman Contest at age 19, and though he lost his first fight, he was hooked nonetheless.
After a brief amateur career, he turned pro at a relatively advanced age compared to many of his peers.
“I got a steep learning curve, man,” Truax acknowledges with a chuckle. “A lot of the guys I’ve been boxing against have three times as many amateur fights as I’ve had and more pro fights. I’ve had to learn a little quicker than most, but I dedicate myself to it.”
Truax’s story isn’t a glamorous one, but if anything, he seems to prefer it this way.
He’s easy to identify with—the rare instance in which anything easy is associated with Caleb Truax.
“People are used to athletes being millionaires, making way more money than they do, and I’m a world-ranked fighter who’s probably making less than they are just with a regular job,” he says. “People can relate to me.”