Caleb Truax fights before hometown crowd, waits for next big shot

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Former super middleweight champ seeks a trilogy bout with James DeGale, but will settle for a fight this Friday night in front of his hometown fans in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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Truax vs DeGale 2 Highlights: April 7, 2018 - PBC on Showtime

It’s been a little more than four months since Caleb Truax lost his super middleweight title belt to the fighter he took it from — James DeGale.

It was a fight that Truax, who came seemingly out of nowhere last December to upset DeGale in the Brit’s hometown and take his International Boxing Federation 168-pound belt, felt he won. That made it hurt even more than the DeGale head butts early on that Truax felt were intentional and which affected his performance.

But don’t think for a minute that Truax, the pride of Minneapolis, spent much time getting over his unanimous decision loss in his first title defense. That’s not his style.

“I try not to dwell on stuff like that,” Truax said. “It’s out of my control and it’s a waste of time being hung up on something you can’t control. I was upset about it for about a week, but got back with my family and friends and started planning what’s next.”

What’s next is not quite what Truax (29-4-2, 18 KOs) had in mind, the obvious rubber match with DeGale. Instead, the 34-year-old fighter nicknamed “Golden” will step into the ring with journeyman Fabiano Pena (15-10-1, 11 KOs) in a 10-round super middleweight bout this Friday. The good news is that it takes place in his hometown at the Minneapolis Armory.

The bad news? Truax’s fight is not included on the televised portion of the PBC on FS1 telecast (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT). The card will be headlined by another Minneapolis guy, welterweight contender Jamal James (23-1, 10 KOs) who faces Mexican challenger Mahonry Montes (35-7-1,24 KOs) in a 10-rounder. Truax said he never expected to be on the telecast.

“I wasn’t originally slated to be on this card. I was going to wait until September or October and look for something bigger,” Truax said. “They asked just a week before the press conference if I wanted to be on the card and I said yeah, I would love to fight in front of my hometown fans because when I’m at my sharpest is when I’m staying active.

“So I went into it with the thought that if I’m on TV, great. If not, no big deal. I just want to get a fight, stay active, get a win and wait for something bigger in the future.”

Truax expects a nice crowd to turn out to take advantage of the local flavor on the card.

“The last time they had a fight there, April 13, the week before my fight in Vegas, when Jamal James was the headliner, they had about 3,500 people, and there was a blizzard,” Truax said. “They had about a foot of snow that night but there were still 3,500 people that showed up.

“I’m the biggest (boxing) name in Minnesota, and that’s why they asked me to be on the card. I’ll be the main event, the last fight of the night, but I don’t think I’ll be on TV unless the other fights end early. It should be a rowdy atmosphere, with Jamal and myself and a couple other local fighters on the card.”

It should be a rowdy atmosphere, with Jamal and myself and a couple other local fighters on the card. Former Super Middleweight Champ Caleb Truax

As for Pena, Truax doesn’t know a whole lot about him.

“He’s a shorter, stockier guy,” says Truax, who, at 6-feet tall enjoys a 2½-inch height advantage over his Brazilian opponent. “He throws big power shots. He’s been in with some tough guys but never really had his way with them. I expect to go out there and establish my jab and do what I normally do—feel him out and then take him out of there.”

If he accomplishes what he expects to on Friday, Truax sees another big fight in the near future, hopefully but unlikely against DeGale. The former Olympic gold medalist vacated his IBF belt rather than face mandatory challenger Jose Uzcategui. DeGale still does not have a fight scheduled, but appears to be eyeing a “domestic grudge match” with a fellow countryman such as Chris Eubank Jr. or Callum Smith. Yet Truax holds out hope that he gets a shot at completing the trilogy.

“I would love to do that,” Truax says. “We were trying to do it straight away after the second fight, but he wanted to go in a different direction and go for a big fight in London. I would love to settle the score and have that rubber match, but we’ll see how things shake out.”

Either way, he says his handlers told him to be impressive and have a good showing in front of his fans, and “there should be something big in the near future for me.”

Truax, a former college football walk-on at Virginia State whose career was ended before it started by a knee injury, earned a sociology degree at the University of Minnesota. His daughter Gia is 2½ now, and Truax says his girlfriend Michelle wants to have another child. He turns 35 on Sept. 14, but still has the fire in his belly to continue boxing.

“I’d like to keep doing it for a couple more years at least. As long as I can be successful and stay healthy, I’m definitely going to stay in this sport,” Truax says. “But you never know. I could get hurt tomorrow and never recover. So it’s just kind of going as is.”

For a closer look at Caleb Truax, check out his fighter page.

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