By Keith Idec
Veteran middleweight Ossie Duran has agreed on short notice to face Caleb Truax in a televised Jan. 3 fight in Minneapolis.
Truax was scheduled to fight Philadelphia’s Derek Ennis (23-4-1, 13 KOs), but Ennis withdrew from the 10-round bout for undisclosed reasons. The 10-rounder between Duran (28-11-2, 11 KOs) and Truax (23-1-1, 14 KOs), of nearby Osseo, Minn., will be broadcast by ESPN2 as the opener of a telecast from Target Center that’ll mark the start of the 17th season of “Friday Night Fights.”
The 36-year-old Duran, of Paterson, N.J., will fight for the first time since he was knocked out in the third round by unbeaten Russian middleweight Matt Korobov (22-0, 13 KOs) on June 15 in Dallas.
Duran, a native of Ghana, had not been knocked out in his 17-year pro career before Korobov beat him. He has boxed Brandon Gonzales (18-0-1, 10 KOs, 1 NC), then-undefeated Fernando Guerrero (26-2, 19 KOs) and James Kirkland (32-1, 28 KOs) in recent years as well.
“Ossie Duran is always ready for war,” said Leon Margules, executive director of Warriors Boxing Promotions, a co-promoter of the Jan. 3 card. “Caleb Truax had better take this challenge seriously because Duran has made a career out of surprising fighters who were favored to beat him. I am looking forward to watching how this interesting battle will unfold. It will surely be a great test of what Caleb is truly made of.”
Two fights ago, the 30-year-old Truax stopped Chicago’s Don George (24-4-2, 21 KOs) in the sixth round June 21 in Minneapolis for the most noteworthy win of his six-year pro career. Truax also is known for dropping former middleweight champ Jermain Taylor in an April 2012 comeback bout Taylor still won by unanimous decision in Biloxi, Miss.
The main event of the Jan. 3 card co-promoted by Mike Tyson’s Iron Mike Productions will match IBF super featherweight champion Argenis Mendez (21-2-1, 11 KOs), a Brooklyn resident raised in the Dominican Republic, against Cuban-born Rances Barthelemy (19-0, 12 KOs), a Miami resident, in a 12-round fight.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.