Little-known Minnesota native's shocking upset in London, not only secured Caleb Truax his dream of a world championship—but also opened up a world of new possibilities.
First, he had to travel to hostile territory—Copper Box Arena in London.
Second, it was just 20 months and three fights ago that Truax (29-3-2, 18 KOs) suffered a devastating first-round TKO loss to Anthony Dirrell.
That time was also a personal low point for “Golden’’ Truax as the bout coincided with his girlfriend, Michelle Stocke, experiencing life-threatening complications, which resulted in an emergency C-section delivery for their 2-year-old daughter, Gia.
“I was not in the right frame of mind,” Truax said. “She still had to do physical and occupational therapy. I considered retirement for sure after losing like that. I wasn’t sure I could mentally do it any more. It took a while to get that fire back into my belly and get back into the gym.”
Truax of Osseo, Minnesota persevered, returned to work with trainers, Tom Halstad and Jim Maurine, manager Ron Lyke, and promoter, Tony Grygelko. He registered consecutive stoppage wins over Zachary Kelley and KeAndrae Leatherwood.
Degale saw Truax as a steppingstone to possible unification matchups with David Benavidez, George Groves and Gilberto Ramirez.
“It added fuel to my fire even at the press conference, his promoter, Frank Warren, was talking about their plans for 2018—Benavides, Groves, Chris Eubank and Callum Smith,” Truax said.
“They were about who they were fighting after me, how much money they’re going to make and how many fans they’ll put in the stadium. I’m standing right there thinking, ‘You gotta get past me first.’”
During the fight, Truax abandoned his usually measured approach, after he adjusted to Degale’s speed.
He trapped Degale along the ropes, landing head-jolting uppercuts, right crosses and left hooks. Truax transformed Degale’s face into a crimson mask.
“I could see he was busted up, bleeding from his nose and around both eyes. We worked really hard on the right positioning, staying outside against southpaw’s stance all night long.” Truax said.
“I let my punches go in combination, keeping them tight, compact and inside his wider shots. I was able to land the right hand by shutting down his jab. My body shots slowed him down. I trusted the judges to make the right decision, and they were legit.”
“ This was the biggest moment of my career. I’m open to anything, going to England again, having a fight in Minnesota. ” Newly-crowned IBF 168-pound Champion Caleb Truax
Truax became the second American to earn a title from an English champion on foreign soil this year. In May, Errol Spence traveled from his home in Desoto, Texas, to Sheffield, England, where he dethroned Kell Brook as 147-pound champion by 11th-round knockout.
Truax is believed to be only the fourth world champion from Minnesota— a list that includes Johnny Ertle (September, 1915), Mike O’Dowd (November 1917) and Will Grigsby (December 1998, 2005).
A 2002 high school graduate of Osseo High, Truax was an all-conference football and baseball player whose dreams of playing college football were foiled by a knee injury.
In 2003, Truax enrolled in the University of Minnesota, successfully pursuing a degree in sociology with minors in political science and African-American studies.
At 19-years-old Truax entered a local tough man contest before turning his interests to boxing, which allowed Truax to pay off his college loan after 10 years as a pro.
"I pride myself on doing the right thing as a representative of Minnesota and my sponsors,” said Truax.
“I’d love to get a rematch with Degale or to redeem myself against Dirrell. I’m open to anything, going to England again, having a fight in Minnesota. This was the biggest moment of my career. I took shorter money for this fight, so I just want to keep moving forward and providing for my family.”