PAST RESULTS |
SITTING ON A GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY
Story By Ray Kilgore
All Caleb Truax wants is for Jermain, "Bad Intentions,"
Taylor to make it to the arena safe and sound on April 20th. In fact,
if Taylor (29-4-1, 18 KOs) could make it to the site four hours earlier,
that would go a long way in alleviating the anxieties of 28-year-old
Truax, who hasn't fought in 11 months.
"Every single night I dream about something happening," Truax
told Minnesotaboxing.com, about Taylor having to pull out of the fight
for some reason or another. But the extremely confident boxer quickly
comforts himself. "He's a top professional so I don't have to worry
about it that much." Let's hope not.
As it turns out, Taylor did make it to this afternoons weigh-ins and
both fighters made weight. Taylor-Truax or Truax-Taylor (if you are
a die-hard Truax supporter) are set to face each other tomorrow night
on ShoBox: The New Generation in a scheduled 10-round main event in
The last time Truax was supposed to square off was on January 20th at
the Palms in Las Vegas, NV on ShoBox, against undefeated Brandon Gonzales.
Gonzales told me before the fight that he was confident of a victory
and looked to advance his career. But weeks before the fight, Gonzales
suffered an injury and the showdown was scratched.
The news hit Truax hard. The night media and fans learned of the event,
Minnesotaboixng.com contacted Truax, who was understandably upset. He
held out hope that Showtime would approve a possible replacement opponent
in Walter Wright: no luck; the program is about showcasing up and coming
fighters-although an argument could be made that that's not always the
case. Wright hadn't been in the ring since 2010 at that time.
So with Gonzales and Wright out, Truax boarded an early flight back
to Minnesota deprived of what would have been his biggest payday (against
Gonzales) of his career, a chance at exposure on big-time TV, and most
important of all, either Gonzales or Wright would have ended his eight-month
(at that time) layoff misery.
Truax appears psychologically amped for Taylor. One, Taylor is a household
name in the boxing world; and two, Truax feels that he's getting Taylor
at the right time in his career. "I used to play against him in
Fight Night (a popular video game a while back) and whupped his ass
with my created player Caleb Truax," the boxer said, laughing.
But all jokes aside, Taylor had done Truax both good and bad. "I
used to bet money on his fights," Truax said. "I won and lost
good money on his fights."
If Truax made a good bet back in 2005, he should have came out well
on July 16, when Taylor, 33, from Little Rock, Arkansas, went up against
then champion Bernard Hopkins; Hopkins was 40 (which is considered old
in boxing) at the time, but he came into the fight with 20 successful
defenses and he had not been defeated in 12 years. Hopkins was a feel-good
story; he turned from street-thug and prison inmate to undisputed champion
of the world.
Taylor entered the fight viewed as too green for Hopkins. But over the
course of 12 rounds, Taylor showed grit, pulling off the biggest win
of his career by taking a split decision victory. In December of that
same year, they rematched, and this time, Taylor defeated Hopkins by
Over the course of his career, Taylor had fared well. He earned millions
of dollars as he racked up wins. But in 2007, his downfall came when
he found himself in a foreign position against Kelly Pavlik-who was
taken to school by Hopkins in October of 2008. Pavlik, who has battled
major injuries and alcohol addiction since the Taylor fights, was behind
on all thee judges' score cards when he backed Taylor into the ropes
and caught him flush with several punches until Taylor fell like a drunken
Taylor not only lost for the first time; he was also stopped (TKO) for
the first time. After the fight, Taylor admitted he got lazy in his
training habits after winning the titles, and when Pavilk-Taylor 2 came
around in February of the following year, Taylor swore he was more dedicated
and performed well, but he still lost by unanimous decision.
Taylor bounced back, beating Jeff Lacy, which earned him a title shot
against Carl Froch. Taylor was ahead on all three judges' score cards
going into the twelfth when Froch got to him and scored a TKO with minutes
left to go. In his next fight, Taylor fought Arthur Abraham and suffered
a brutal knockout in the twelfth; the blow was so devastating, TV camera
caught his mother, Carlois, and wife, Erica, screaming frantically for
the fighter to get up as he lay on the canvas for several minutes motionless.
Shortly afterward Taylor was hospitalized with a severe concussion,
and he suffered short term memory loss. There were reports that he had
bleeding on his brain.
"That's on my mind," Truax told Minnesotaboxing.com when asked
if he was concerned about abandoning his game plan by trying to go for
the KO, given Taylor's questionable chin. "I don't think he's the
same Taylor," said Truax. "But at the same time, I have to
be ready for the dude that beat Hopkins."
Truax was a gifted athlete; he earned all-conference in football before
he graduated from Osseo Senior High in 2002, and he even played Division
II college football for Virginia State University. He transferred to
the University of Minnesota (where he earned his degree in sociology,
minoring in both African American studies and political science) but
he continued to gravitate toward the world of sports, competing in "tough-men"
contests with Tom Halstad (his current boxing trainer) working his corner.
Truax switched professions and became a boxer. The move proved worth
the effort as he won the USA Boxing State Championship, the Region 1
Championship, and the Upper Midwest Golden Gloves Championship, which
all satisfied him. But in 2007, his amateur career came to an abrupt
halt when the amateur governing body learned that Truax had participated
in a "tough-man" contest before his first amateur boxing match
(a violation) and they revoked his amateur privileges. His record was
Truax never planned to turn professional, but since he did, he has made
the best of his time. He's 18-0-1, 10 KOs, and while Taylor has received
the brunt of media news going into this fight, Truax, whose ring alias
is "Golden," has made a name for himself locally. He has built
up a reputation as not only a smart boxer, but a caring one outside
the ring. Several weeks ago he attended an amateur boxing show and addressed
the audience about the pandemic of chemical abuse, and how it both physically
and psychologically destroys individuals and families.
The night last May when he defeated Andy Kolle (Truax's last fight in
the ring) for the Minnesota Middleweight State Championship, he asked
fans to bring non-perishable canned goods to help aid Minnesota victims
of last year's tornado. And if he pulls off the upset against Taylor,
he has other ways of thanking hometown folks. "When I beat Taylor,"
Truax told Minneasotaboxing.com, "it opens a lot of doors to bring
TV here and give back to the local fans."
Truax isn't a big puncher, so it's not unthinkable that Taylor might
come right after the 6-foot-0 fighter. In a press release (although
somewhat odd) Taylor said, "
.I need to take this kid's [Truax's]
zero. I was praying the other day and God told me to go in there and
kick this kid's butt, and that's exactly what I plan on doing."
While it's very unlikely that Truax will let Taylor hand it to him without
a fight, Truax's sabbatical could be a factor in the fight. "It's
not ideal. I would have liked to fight a couple times in the last 11
months," Truax told Secondsout.com. "But it didn't work out.
The way you get rusty is by sitting around. I've been in the gym all
but three weeks since that time."
In the past, even for lesser opponents, Truax has taken his camp to
Las Vegas. But this time, he's choosing to stay home, a move that may
or may not have negative consequences. "I am a pretty even keel
guy. Sometimes there's distractions [training for a fight] when the
fight is up here [in Minnesota," he said. "But when it's someplace
else, there isn't too much since you don't get people asking for tickets."
Taylor has been through a plethora of trainers since turning professional
in 2001. Truax, who went pro in 2007, has remained loyal, so far, to
his trainer Tom Halstad. Halstad doesn't have a contract with Truax;
his reasoning is that a fighter should have the right to get help from
other trainers if the boxer feels the need to. While Halstad might be
putting himself at financial risk, Truax has shown a steadfast loyalty
to his close friends.
A huge part of Truax's inability to get fights for a while was due to
his local promoter, Tony Grygelko, of Seconds Out Promotions, who came
under fire last year when it was discovered that Grygelko hadn't paid
some fighters. The Minnesota boxing commission suspended Grygelko indefinitely,
which resulted, among other things, in Truax not getting fights, since
Grygelko had promoted all of Truax's shows up until that point; Grygelko,
who for the most part has helped Minnesota boxing by providing quality
shows, has continued to advocate for Truax, although he doesn't have
the ability to promote any longer at this time.
Truax has been known to be a stubborn boxer at times. He is said to
be one of the hardest boxers at the gym where he trains. The story goes
that he bypassed job offers (for a lower-paying job with flexible hours)
where he could have earned a living in his field of studies to focus
on boxing. For the past several months, he has traveled to different
boxing gyms around Minnesota to get ready for his fight against Taylor.
And if plans materialize the right way (even if he looses and looks
good), Truax will be headed toward a path of unimaginable opportunities,
and he hopes it starts against Taylor.
"He's always made lots of mistakes, even as a world champion, and
got away with it because he was quicker and younger," Truax said.
"My job is to make him pay for those mistakes [because] when I
beat Taylor, it will open up a lot of doors."
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