by David P. Greisman
Caleb Truax led off 2014 with the season premiere of ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights,” but the evening ended with a disappointing draw against Ossie Duran. Now the Minnesota middleweight will be returning to the network on July 25 in the co-feature slot, facing Derek Ennis in a card taking place at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago.
Truax, 30, is 23-1-2 with 14 KOs. He spoke with BoxingScene.com in early July about the upcoming bout, a change he made after the Duran fight, his hopes for moving up in the 160-pound division, and what he thinks of the top names in his weight class.
BoxingScene.com: How do you feel about the change in opponents from Medina to Ennis?
Truax: “I guess I have plenty of time to adjust. I have like four weeks in advance to adjust to the switch in opponents, so it’s not that big of a deal as far as not having time to adapt. Obviously it’s always tough to lose the original guy. Medina was a tough fight, and Ennis is a different challenge, but it should be a fight as well.”
BoxingScene.com: Do you feel, in terms of what the wins would do for your career, that a win over Ennis is more or less meaningful or as meaningful than a win over Medina would’ve been?
Truax: “I think it’s probably about even. Neither one of them is like a real top guy. But they’re both solid and respective and have fought on TV before and had decent outings on ESPN lately. They’re both good wins, but nothing that’s going to vault me into the Top 10 or anything like that.”
BoxingScene.com: How do you feel about that? You have this goal in mind, but you’re not facing a guy who’s going to vault you into the Top 10. Is that frustrating for you?
Truax: “It is what it is. I’m not in a rush to do anything. I realize that fighting on an ESPN card, I’m in the co-main event, I realize that the money’s not there to get a top guy to challenge me. I’m just working my way towards there, and hopefully after this fight, I’ll get something a little bigger and work my way towards a title shot or an eliminator or something like that.”
BoxingScene.com: How familiar are you with Ennis? I see he had a loss to Jonathan Gonzalez in January 2013.
Truax: “That’s the one we’ve been watching the most, because it’s the most recent one [Note: Ennis did return from a 14-month layoff this past March to defeat an 11-6-1 foe named Emil Gonzalez]. I’ve seen that fight. I’ve seen a couple of his fights on YouTube. We’re focusing mostly on that one with [Jonathan] Gonzalez. He’s alright. I think Gonzalez let him stay in the fight when he should’ve kinda put him away. But he’s a decent fighter. He’s pretty slick. He can box a little bit. It’s just up to me to discourage him…”
BoxingScene.com: When we spoke after your fight in January, you’d mentioned you’d wanted to be back sooner than this — you were pondering March and then perhaps even May as well. What happened with the layoff?
Truax: “It kind of sucked. I could’ve fought in March on a local card here in Minneapolis. And because [promoters] Warriors and Seconds Out thought I was going to get something bigger in May, they held me off that card. Then the one in May didn’t turn out, so I missed out on both those ones. And I’d already had a vacation planned for my buddy’s wedding, so I said, ‘Screw it, I’ll just fight in July.’ ”
BoxingScene.com: Do you feel like you’re getting rusty at all with the layoff? I know it’s not long when we consider what other fighters regularly do, but still…
Truax: “No, not at all. I made some changes with how I work out. I’ve been working out with a personal trainer named Josh Hutton from Body Evolution Fitness. I’ve been doing a lot of strength training and working on my diet a lot with him. So it actually gave us a little change to get more groundwork laid, so I think I’ll be better than ever come July 25. I’ll be a lot stronger, and I won’t have to do as much to get done to weight. I think it’ll end up working out for the better.”
BoxingScene.com: What’s the difference between the kind of training you’re doing now and what you used to do?
Truax: “I always did conditioning training and stuff like that, like every boxer does. … [This is] kind of like what Robert Guerrero did. I read a story about him; he started doing CrossFit, and that’s kind of like the same type of stuff we’re doing, just to work muscle strength and conditioning together. It’s been real beneficial. I can tell the difference in sparring and just how I feel in the ring as the rounds go on, and especially my leg strength is definitely better than it was before.”
BoxingScene.com: Are you doing less running?
Truax: “Maybe a little bit less running, but it’s more focused on like sprinting in short bursts, rather than distance running like six miles and stuff like that. It’s more like three miles and adding in more sprints to open up and extend your lungs. It’s kind of like more what you’re doing in a fight, where you’re throwing a flurry. It’s more short bursts.”
BoxingScene.com: What spurred you to make this kind of change in your training?
Truax: “I just had a really bad night in my last fight. I fought like crap, and it was a fight that I needed to impress on to get myself into a bigger fight. I just kind of fought like shit, man, and I knew I had to change something and just get better. I’m a competitive person, so I’m always trying to find an edge and do what I got to do and get better. I decided to make a change.”
BoxingScene.com: Did you make any other changes, like with your trainer or to your team?
Truax: “No, no, no. I’ve been with my trainer since day one, man. He ain’t going nowhere. I hate when fighters change trainers all the time. If a fighter has a bad night, they always seem to blame it on their trainer when it’s them, the one in the ring doing the fighting. I think it’s a cop out for a lot of guys.”
BoxingScene.com: You said you don’t think this fight is going to get you where you need to be. What do you think a win over Ennis gets you?
Truax: “I think if I’m impressive, it’ll get me back on TV. I’m not saying it’s not going to get me to where I need to be. I’m saying that it’s not going to get me to a title fight. That’s not going to make somebody think I’m the next best thing. It’s a good win. It’s a solid win. It’s not a fight that’s going to propel me into a championship fight. It’s a fight that gets me going in the right direction and gets me back in the win column and gets me progressing forward instead of sideways, like the last one with Ossie Duran.”
BoxingScene.com: If you beat Ennis, who would you then need to face in order to earn that title shot or a big TV fight?
Truax: “I’m willing to face whoever, man. It doesn’t really matter to me. There’s a few guys in Europe that are kind of like the gateway guys, like Matthew Macklin and Martin Murray, guys in the United States like Danny Jacobs, guys like that that have good records and are close to a title shot. That’s where I want to be. Those are the type of guys that I have to eventually get matched up with and just get a win against them to put myself in the spot to fight for the title.”
BoxingScene.com: And you’re still looking to be at middleweight right now instead of super middleweight…
Truax: “Yeah. I think this fight is at 162, I believe. I’ll be at middleweight for a while. That’s where I feel comfortable at. Those boys at 168 are pretty big, man. I’m not trying to move up and fight those dudes until I absolutely have to.”
BoxingScene.com: What do you think about the middleweight division right now?
Truax: “I think it’s wide open, because of the landscape of things right now with Golden Boy and Top Rank and HBO and Showtime. I think there’s a lot of talent there. I think there’s some good champions, but just the politics of it kind of makes it screwy because some of the top guys can’t fight each other because of the network affiliations or whatever. I think it’s wide open, especially for a guy like me that’s not tied to anything right now. I can fight a guy on Showtime. I can fight a guy on HBO. I can fight a guy from Top Rank, Golden Boy, whoever. I think that’s a good spot to be in right now.”
BoxingScene.com: Let’s go through the division rankings and get your quick thoughts about each guy, starting with the champion, Miguel Cotto.
Truax: “I don’t think he’s a middleweight. I think he fought a Sergio Martinez that was on the downslide. Don’t get me wrong. Miguel Cotto’s a beast, man. He’s one of my favorite fighters. I’ve always been a huge fan of him, but I don’t think he’s a true middleweight. I think he fought a great fight against Sergio Martinez, but he fought a guy that was past his prime and not a top middleweight, so to speak, because of the injuries. I don’t think Cotto will defend his middleweight belt. I think he’ll just look for the big fights and move back down to junior middle and fight own there.”
BoxingScene.com: Gennady Golovkin.
Truax: “He’s a beast, man. I think he’s the guy to beat right now in the middleweight division. He’s got power. It’ll be interesting to see how he does against Daniel Geale, because I think Daniel Geale’s a pretty good fighter, too. In my mind, he [Golovkin] is the guy to beat, and he was the guy to beat even though Sergio Martinez was considered the lineal champ. I still think GGG was the man.”
BoxingScene.com: Peter Quillin.
Truax: “I think he’s a good champion. I sparred with him before. He’s a guy I’d like to get in there with. That’s one of the fights that we were trying to get in May. We’re hoping to get set up with him somehow. My promoters have been talking to his guys to hopefully get something going after this fight, so hopefully we can get something set up. I think they just ordered a mandatory for him, so I don’t know if I’ll be able to get in there.”
BoxingScene.com: Sergio Martinez.
Truax: “I don’t see him coming back. If he does, it won’t be for a while. He was a bad man for a while. He came up in weight and he knocked out Paul Williams. He beat up Kelly Pavlik real bad. He was a bad boy until the body started betraying him.”
BoxingScene.com: Sam Soliman.
Truax: “I’ve seen him fight a couple times. He’s real awkward and he’s in phenomenal condition. That’s a guy that I’d like to get in there with, too, eventually down the line. I think he’s kind of old, and I’m not sure how much longer he’ll be around. Got to make sure they drug-test him when he fights.”
BoxingScene.com: Daniel Geale.
Truax: “ He’s good. He impressed me a lot when he fought Darren Barker. He’s a good champion, and it’ll be interesting to see him fight GGG. It’ll be GGG’s first real test against a real top guy.”
BoxingScene.com: Martin Murray.
Truax: I haven’t seen too much of him. He looks real strong. He looks solid for a middleweight. I thought he beat Sergio Martinez. It’s kind of hard to get a handle on the direction his career’s headed. It seems like he’s turned down a bunch of fights with guys and is just kind of in limbo fighting over in Monaco, or something like that.”
BoxingScene.com: Felix Sturm.
Truax: “I’ve seen a little bit of him. He kind of seems like he’s on the downswing. He has a real good jab and looks like he’s in real good shape. I was surprised that Soliman beat him, actually. He’s been a good champion. I don’t know how much he has left. I don’t how old he is. It seems like he’s been around for a long time.”
BoxingScene.com: Matthew Macklin.
Truax: “I don’t want to call him the gatekeeper, but he’s a guy you’ve got to beat in order to get to the top guys. He’s a tough dude. I thought he was going to give GGG a real good fight, and GGG obviously proved me wrong real quick. He’s a real solid fighter, a tough guy and he’s been around for a long while.”
BoxingScene.com: Marco Antonio Rubio.
Truax: “I think he’s probably the most underrated dude in the division. Every time I’ve seen that guy, I’ve been impressed with him. He fought Chavez and Chavez was way bigger than him, and he gave Chavez a hell of a fight.”
BoxingScene.com: Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam.
Truax: “That was the only time I’ve ever seen him fight, against Peter Quillin. That’s the fight I sparred with Peter Quillin, to get him ready for that fight. I haven’t seen too much of him, so I can’t really form too big of an opinion on him. He looked to box pretty good against Quillin. He just couldn’t stand up.”
BoxingScene.com: When you see these names, what does that make you think of this division?
Truax: “It’s tough, man. Don’t get me wrong by critiquing any of these guys. They’re all in a spot I want to get to. They’re all in front of me in the rankings and they’re all considered to be better fighters than me right now. Until I prove that I am, that’s where they’ll stay. I have to get past Ennis and hopefully get a fight with one of these guys and prove that I belong in that top 10. It’s a tough division. It’s wide open, but there’s some talented guys, and it’s going to be tough to crack that top 10.”
BoxingScene.com: Anything else that you want your fans to know?
Truax: “Thanks for the support, like always. Either check me out on ESPN on July 25 or make the road trip to Chicago and come cheer me on.”
Pick up a copy of David’s book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or internationally at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsworldwide . Send questions/comments via email at [email protected]