When Matt "The Predator" Vanda (44-14) enters the ring Saturday night against Caleb "Golden" Truax (21-1), there will not be a ceremonial passing of the torch. Vanda has carried that torch for Minnesota boxing for the better part of two decades.
After Saturday's main event, the Predator will hang up his gloves.
Although the fight which will be held at the Minneapolis Convention Center doesn't have the normal venomous hate, both Vanda and Truax are very much polar opposites, which as the old saying goes styles make fights and these guys have two completely different styles.
One last ride with the Predator:
The first time I saw Matt fight live was the exact same card that Caleb made his professional debut. It was three months removed from his January 12, 2007 loss to Anthony Bonsante and the aura of Vanda was almost bigger than his presence in the ring.
Known for his combinations, Vanda could "throw punches in bunches" and although he isn't knocking guys out, he is one of the toughest guys Minnesota boxing has ever seen. He's only been stopped twice in his near 60 fights and when injuries would force most guys to drop out of a fight, Matt has fought through.
Professional athletes finding the right time to step away from their sport has always been a talker. Understanding when the moment is right is especially important in the fight game. Vanda has seen everything and done everything that he wants from boxing. It has given he and his family a great life and afforded him opportunities to see and do things that others don't. He has also given back in his own way to a sport that has been slowly taken a back seat to MMA.
Without completely being a pro-wrestler gimmick type, Vanda has brought something to the local fight game that others have not. He combines personality with in-ring skill and there is no one in the state with the drawing power that he has. From a promoter's perspective, he puts a backside every 18 inches which means money in the pocket.
Omega Presents promoter Tony Grygelko said of Vanda "no one sells a fight like him". And he's right. After a five minute conversation with him, you will believe his side of whatever you are discussing. Fans of local boxing are going to miss that.
Matt has a rare opportunity Saturday night. It isn't often that a pro athlete can retire on their terms in front of their home crowd. Although he hails from St. Paul and is the pride of the eastside, he isn't bad in Minneapolis either and there will be Vanda fans a plenty there to watch their guy throw fists one last time.
Truax is a rising star:
Looking for a word to describe Caleb Truax? Cerebral would be the adjective I would use to describe the best fighter in Minnesota today. Truax made his pro debut on that same 2007 card and has shot up the rankings. He defeated Andy Kolle to become the Minnesota middleweight champion in May of 2011 and his only loss came against former world champion Jermain Taylor.
The loss to Taylor put the first mark in the loss column, but didn't do anything to dampen his spirit or the confidence. A loss isn't necessarily a bad thing and in Caleb's case gave him an indication that when it comes to the boxing landscape, his name is on the list of up and comers who will have their shot.
Something happened to Caleb after that fight. He became more aggressive and began to trust his offensive game. Up until that fight, he had been more of a counter puncher and would wait for his opponent to make a move, then with surgeon like precision pick them apart. He forced his last opponent, Michael Walker to take a knee in the fourth found after peppering him with devastating shots to the body. He pressed the action and in the process became a better all-around fighter.
His star is still rising and although his focus is squarely on Vanda, a television fight will most likely be in the horizon should Caleb's arm be raised in victory on Saturday night.
Tickets are still available at www.ofights.com
|Main Event 10 Rounds||Caleb Truax (21-1)||Matt Vanda (44-14)|
|Co-Main Event 6-Rounds||Charles Meier (6-2-2)||Travis Perzynski (2-1)|
|6- Round Middleweight||Jon Schmidt (11-2)||Michael Faulk (2-2)|
|6-Round Welterweight||Mohammed Kayongo (15-2-1)||Gilbert Venegas (11-7-3)|
|4-Round Lightweight||Tony Lee (6-1)||Leonard Overstreet (0-2)|
|4-Round Light Middleweight||Gavin Quinn (1-0)||Silar Ortley (4-15-0)|
|4-Round Lightweight||Jeremy McLaurin (9-5)||DeWayne Wisdom (2-8)|
|4-Round Light Middleweight||Kenneth Glenn (1-0)||Damien Hill (Debut)|
|4-Round Lightweight||Anthony Linenfelser (3-3)||TBD|