Photos Courtesy: Minnesotaboxing.com-Jesse Kelly
He had just finished his latest, biggest fight and stopped for dozens of pictures and conversation with his fans. "Great work champ, we knew you could do it" still echo throughout the Convention Center and Caleb Truax soaked it all in. Mentally and physically exhausted, he took his time with everyone who wanted a second or minute.
It's not who he has become, that is who he has always been.
In the dressing room, he recalled going to Vikings games with a buddy growing up and asking players for autographs only to be denied.
"I made a promise that I would never do that," he said.
Poetic that one of the first to congratulate him on his big win was former Vikings linebacker Ben Leber.
From a sports perspective, Friday night was special. While mother nature was wreaking havoc outside, Truax, the best fighter in Minnesota was doing so inside the Convention Center. Dominating Don George and completely defusing the man known as "da bomb". It has been a long time in the works, but when team Truax first started down their journey, Friday night was one of those nights they envisioned with Caleb as the centerpiece.
When he first stepped into the ring at the Target Center for his professional debut on April 6, 2007, he was touted as the potential face of boxing in the state. In the fight world, such boasts come often but more often than not fizzle out as mere hype.
Not so for team Truax.
Friday night, he lived up to his name and put in a ‘golden' performance. George entered the fight 24-3-2 and had been knocked out only one time in his 29 fights by current WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson. That is of course until the face of Minnesota boxing disposed of him in the sixth round with a devastating right hand that caught George right behind his ear. Ton of bricks analogy in play, George dropped to the canvas and referee Gary Miezwa could have counted to 100.
Over the six years he has been a pro, I have watched the majority of Caleb's fights and have had the honor of calling several of them on internet broadcasts. I'll always have in my hip pocket that he and I made out professional boxing debuts together, his in the ring and mine on the microphone. Friday night, in front of his crowd, he was as sharp and dominant as he has ever been in the ring and took his next step toward a world title opportunity. Something he would cherish, but wouldn't define his career. As all fighters do, he dreamed big and one of those dreams became a reality as he brought a big television card to his home state.
He didn't disappoint.
In the ESPN pre-fight analysis, the fight breakdown went something like this:
Don George: Wear Truax down with pressure, body work and right hands.
Caleb Truax: Don't let George wear you down; use your legs and jab to keep him off balance.
Obviously Teddy Atlas and company knew little if anything about the best fighter in Minnesota.
They do now.
So many times, as a state, we flail our arms frantically as if to say ‘wait, what about us over here' and in boxing circles, have watched as our guys have hit the road on national television and have fallen way short. That is the exciting part about this whole journey. In a major sports market, you could make the argument that Truax who played baseball and college football is the best overall professional athlete.
Without question, he is the most approachable.
With big money fights in his future, the Minnesota middleweight champ spent Sunday morning with his promoter at a Golden Gloves event in Oakdale and will be in Minneapolis on Monday night with Rod Simons as he shoots his weekly Game On! TV show.
All in a day's work or play for the champ.