News January 2018

Truax says only one thing surprised him about James Degale


By Michael J Jones

Golden Truax

FRESH OFF his remarkable upset victory over British star James DeGale, newly-crowned IBF super-middleweight champion Caleb Truax enters the New Year in the form of his fistic life. Many scoffed at the selection of the 34 year old American as the challenger to then-IBF ruler DeGale when the fight was announced last year but the Minnesota veteran proved the pre-fight odds were misleading when triumphing with a hard-fought twelve-round majority decision.

Now 29-3-2 (18) in his eleven-year pro campaign, Truax is enjoying the praise often lacking to him through his tough career in what has been hailed as the 2017 upset of the year. Many fans in the UK were openly shocked at the demise of “Chunky” and, while rumours are rife of the beaten man's ongoing injury difficulties, nobody can take anything away from Truax who took the fight at relatively late notice, on away turf and won the fight beyond any doubt.

“To be honest, to me, I didn’t consider me beating James DeGale as an upset” Caleb Truax tells Livefight this week. “Some bookies had me 40/1 and DeGale at 1/100 on to beat me but I was very confident before the fight that I was going to beat him.”

Although DeGale has often impressed with his southpaw skills, he has always had the tendency of shipping too many clean punches and in recent fights has taken plenty of punishment against Rogelio Medina and Badou Jack. The gifted Londoner finished both contests marked up and, in the latter fight, even minus some teeth.

Regardless of making some fights harder than they should have been, DeGale was still an over-whelming favourite to take care of business against “Golden” Truax but very early on it was evident the visitor hadn’t turned up to merely make up numbers.

“I’d watched some of DeGale’s previous fights and seen he’d taken some punishment but that didn’t play in my mind, I just set out to put a lot of pressure on him. My trainer (Tommy Halstead) devised a beautiful game-plan and it all worked out perfectly.”

“One thing I saw in DeGale was how often he’d lay on the ropes and stay there a little too long so I said I’d take advantage of that. Every time he backed to the ropes I unloaded and did some damage. Also, with him being a left-handed fighter, it was also important to stay on the outside of his front foot to take away the angles to his punches.”

The first four rounds were intensely fought with Truax edging most of the action but the fifth round saw DeGale badly hurt from a brutal combination including one huge right uppercut flush on the jaw. The Minnesota challenger poured on the pressure but, despite the champion appearing out on his feet for several moments, DeGale survived the round.

“Was I surprised I hurt him? No I was actually very surprised I didn’t knock him out in that round” comments Truax. “I can punch and usually I hit a guy with two big punches and I knock him out. DeGale took four or five of my best punches cleanly and carried on so he’s got a real good chin.”

Truax punishes DeGale

Londoner DeGale clawed his way back into the fight and was never hurt the same way again but Truax was not to be denied and appeared a worthy winner at the final bell. Poor decisions happen regularly in boxing and we’ve had some absolute stinkers in the UK over the years.
As the away fighter facing the champion, were there any concerns about the decision at the final bell?

“I really thought I’d won the fight beyond any doubt whatsoever so I wasn’t concerned and that’s why I dropped to my knees right at the bell as I knew I was the IBF champion of the world. I was worried when the first card was read though; the British judge scored a draw and I thought ‘no please don’t let me be robbed now’ (laughs).”

While the first judge (Dave Parris) scored 114-114, the other two thankfully handed in scores of 116-112 and 115-112 making Caleb Truax the winner by a majority (Livefight scored 116-113 to Truax).

“I thought it could have been a solid nine-three (in rounds) that I won…maybe even a ten-two.”

Nothing has been confirmed yet for the new champion’s first defence. Caleb confirms talks are ongoing and we should hear something in the next two weeks.

“James DeGale has told me he wants the rematch and if it comes off I’d happily face him again. Last time I had only six weeks to train and, although I got in good shape, with longer to prepare I’ll be even sharper and stronger next time. I look after myself between fights so usually six weeks is fine but for a fight of this magnitude I would have preferred longer to prepare ideally.”

“Of course I’d love to return to the UK to fight again” continues the 34 year old. “The fans and the media are fantastic over there and the whole boxing culture in the UK is much greater than it is in the USA. Over here, boxing plays second fiddle to sports like Basketball and (American) football but its still a main sport in the UK and gets plenty of attention.”

“I beat DeGale and I was nervous about going out afterwards as I didn’t know what reaction I would get from people after I’d beaten their guy, but everyone was shaking my hand, taking pictures with me and buying me drinks it was just awesome.”

Now 34 and a veteran of 34 pro contests, Truax now looks to 2018 to build on what is without doubt the finest victory of his career so far. The DeGale rematch aside, the super-middleweight horizon is a busy one. The Interim IBF ‘champion’ Andre Dirrell is set to rematch Jose Uzcategui on March 3rd so both fighters, highly ranked in the IBF ratings, will be unavailable in the near future while several of the leading 168lb fighters are featured in the World Super series tournament.

The next WSS bout sees a highly intriguing clash between WBA Super champion George Groves and Chris Eubank Jr on February 17th.

“If I was to pick anyone to win the whole thing it would be Groves” the six foot Caleb tells Livefight of the only other man to best DeGale. “The Callum Smith-Jurgen Braehmer fight (the week after) interests me as Braehmer looked real good in his first fight and I’ve heard Smith is a good fighter. Groves though, he’s been in big fights for a while and I feel that big fight experience will pay off.”

“Chris Eubank Jr will be a tough fight for Groves but I just don’t see Eubank as a huge super-middleweight so I see Groves coming through.”

The current IBF number five is Liverpool’s Rocky Fielding. If the DeGale bout fails to come off, a Truax-Fielding match may be a reality with several of the other IBF top ten tied into other fights.

“Yeah I’ve heard of Fielding and he looks like a tough fighter whose only loss was to Callum Smith. He’s got a good record and I’d welcome that fight if it made sense financially.”

“I’m 34 but didn’t have any of that abuse from an amateur career. I always stay in shape between fights, I don’t party and I feel like I’m a very fresh 34 year old. There’s no set date I’ll be leaving boxing, my view is if as long as I’m still successful and able to make a better future for me and my family, I’ll continue.”

Champion at last

Before we conclude our interview I have to ask about Truax’s last defeat two years ago. While the Osseo puncher was competitive in his other two reverses to Jermain Taylor and Danny Jacobs, Anthony Dirrell blitzed Caleb in the first in a short-lived affair in Atlantic City.

“I did a few interviews straight after that fight and I just said it was a sh**ty time in my life and, in hindsight, I should have turned down that fight. My girlfriend had almost died in child-birth shortly beforehand and my head wasn’t right. The DeGale proves that fact as I beat a more accomplished, and respected, fighter than Dirrell.”

“I just want to say a big thank you to all of my supporters and all of my new fans in the UK. You’re all awesome and please keep supporting and talking to me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram I appreciate all of the support.”

To follow Caleb on Twitter it's @GoldenCalebT he's also on Facebook and Instagram @goldencalebt.

Current world super-middleweight champions

IBF-Caleb Truax (USA).
WBA-Tyrone Zeuge (Germany).
WBA Super-George Groves (UK).
WBO-Gilberto Ramirez (Mexico).
WBC-David Benavidez (USA).

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