By Lem Satterfield
Caleb Truax will be fighting in his native Minnesota for the second straight time on April 13, when he meets Peter Quillin in a non-title, 168-pound battle of 35-year-old former champions at the Minneapolis Armory (FS1, 10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT).
“I’m excited to have a fight in my home town, and, hopefully, we’ll have a great crowd," said Truax. “I’m excited to get into the ring with a guy like Peter Quillin, a former champion like myself."
Truax (30-4-2, 19 KOs) is from Osseo, Minnesota, and Quillin (34-1-1, 23 KOs), Brooklyn, New York, by way of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
But they are no strangers to one another.
In October 2012, Truax served as a sparring partner for Quillin in advance of his middleweight title-winning unanimous decision over Hassan N’Dam. “Kid Chocolate” floored N'Dam six times, rising to 28-0 with 20 knockouts.
Truax was 18-1-1 (10 KOs) following a first-round KO of Mickey Scarborough that September to rebound from a unanimous decision loss to ex-champion Jermain Taylor in April.
“We were both middleweights at that time,” said Truax. “There has been nothing but mutual respect for one another ever since.”
But now they’re adversaries at a crossroads, with Truax being one bout removed from losing his IBF 168-pound title by unanimous decision in Las Vegas to switch-hitting James DeGale (25-2-1, 15 KOs), a 2008 Olympic gold medalist. That was an April rematch of a December 2017 bout in which Truax traveled to London’s Copper Box Arena, where he dethroned DeGale by majority decision.
Meanwhile, Quillin’s pursuing his third straight win as a super middleweight since losing by 85-second TKO to Daniel Jacobs in a December 2015 non-title bout.
“Obviously we’re both trying to position ourselves for another title shot,” said Truax. “So now he’s a man in my way, and I’ve gotta take care of business on April 13.”
Truax returns to the site of his last victory in August, a third-round TKO of Fabiano Pena. Truax fought Pena on the undercard of a main event featuring welterweight Jamal James (24-1, 11 KOs), a Minneapolis native who won by second-round KO over gatekeeper Mahonry Montes.
“I’m really excited to be fighting at home again,” said Truax. “It’s fantastic for me and Jamal to be building Minnesota into a boxing town and the armory into an exciting local fight hub in the United States."
“Golden” Truax initially fought DeGale at a time when he was 20 months and two knockout victories removed from a devastating first-round TKO loss to Anthony Dirrell in April 2016.
Their bout coincided with Truax’s pregnant girlfriend, Michelle Stocke, experiencing life-threatening complications which led to an emergency C-section delivery for their 2-year-old daughter, Gia.
“I was not in the right frame of mind. She still had to do physical and occupational therapy. I considered retirement for sure after losing like that,” said Truax, who is expecting his second child in May. “I wasn’t sure I could mentally do it any more. It took a while to get that fire back into my belly and get back into the gym.”
Truax and James are among a trio of fighters creating a surge in enthusiasm for boxing in Minnesota. The other is newly-crowned WBA “regular” middleweight champion Rob Brant (24-1, 16 KOs),.
Brant is transplant from his native St. Paul’s, Minnesota, to Las Vegas, where spent eight weeks preparing for last month’s unanimous decision over Ryota Murata (14-2, 11 KOs) for the crown.
It was Brant's initial fight under trainer Eddie Muhammad, a former 175-pound champion who guided him to an unlikely triumph over the 2012 Japanese Olympic gold medalist.
"Rob and I have sparred plenty of rounds, and he just won the WBA regular belt a couple of weeks ago as a big underdog," said Truax.
"Nobody really gave him a chance against Murata, but he pulled it off. So that's another fantastic accomplishment for a Minnesota boxer. Minnesota's no longer just a fly-over territory in boxing."