I remember sitting in the WCCO radio studios in 2007 with the late Dark Star, local boxing promoter Tony Grygelko and a then rookie fighter from Osseo who went by the name of Caleb Truax. Grygelko talked glowingly about Truax as a counter puncher with a great defense and the ability to wait you out and capitalize on your mistakes.
In short, he was special.
That night, we talked about the lack of a face in the heavyweight division as a reason the sport was in a rut nationally. Locally, Grygelko had just put over 9,000 butts in the seats at Target Center and the sport was at heights not seen in decades. It was April 6, 2007 when Team Truax marched to the ring for the first time to face Ray Walker and then left Target Center with a second round TKO. For those who were there, it was the beginning of a story no one would have guessed would have turned out so grand.
Boxing in the state of Minnesota is interesting (for lack of a better word). There are some really good fights locally that draw some good crowds. Promoters across the state do a great job of marketing their product and putting on good local shows. What ends up happening though is that when a fighter heads out of state, they don't win on the road. So often the cliché ‘ceiling' is used when talking about the potential of an athlete. At no point when we talked about Caleb on the radio in 2007 did we imagine a ceiling that included a world title shot.
Truax had a busy 2013, his best year as a pro. In January, he became the face of boxing in Minnesota when he defeated Matt Vanda. In June, he defeated middleweight prospect Don George with a dominating sixth round TKO. That is when Truax became more than a blip on the national radar. He wasn't done. After being called out locally by Cerresso Fort, he took care of him with a fourth round TKO.
His offensive prowess has come after his one blemish on his record, a 2012 loss to Jermain Taylor. Truax fought in typical counter punch style until when down in points, he started throwing punches and the results found the former world champion Taylor on his hands and knees in the ninth round.
That was the round that changed the game for Caleb Truax.
Taylor barely escaped the ninth round and after clearing the cobwebs kept Truax at a safe distance in the 10th and final round and picked up a unanimous decision. Truax headed back to Minnesota set to sharpen up his game. He has since won five straight fights including ending four early.
Now with a world championship opportunity in his sights, the kid from Osseo has the attention of the boxing world including one of the biggest names in the history of the sport, Mike Tyson. Tyson will have a ringside seat to watch Truax battle Ossie Duran in the co-main event on ESPN's Friday Night Fights from Target Center. Two wins on national television is enough to get anyone noticed, but having a former world champion vouching for you isn't a bad thing either.
It has been nearly seven years since Truax fought at Target Center and a lot has changed. His dream of becoming a world champion has not and he is closer than ever to making that dream a reality.