By Jake Donovan
The timing couldn’t have been any better for Caleb Truax to enjoy the biggest homecoming of his career.
The former super middleweight titlist returns to Minneapolis for the second straight time, when he faces former middleweight title claimant Peter Quillin (34-1-1, 23KOs) atop the April 13 edition of PBC on FS1. The event takes place at Minneapolis Armory, marking Truax’s 27th career appearance in his home state, where he remains unbeaten (24-0-2).
While not the first time that TV cameras followed him to Minnesota, it’s safe to say none have been given the big event feel this show has been afforded.
“In my home state, this is my biggest fight for sure,” Truax (30-4-2, 19KOs) noted to BoxingScene.com. “I’ve fought at home on ESPN2 Friday Night Fights before, but this one will top ‘em all. It’s an IBF eliminator, must-win for both of us. The fans out here are really knowledgeable and it’s going to be a big night at the Armory.”
Truax and Minneapolis’ own Jamal James—a rising welterweight contender—have been a part of every show at the remodeled Armory since reopening its doors last winter. Truax will make his second consecutive appearance at the venue, which played to a rabid crowd for his return home last summer, his first anywhere in Minnesota in exactly 52 weeks.
Wedged in between was his pair of super middleweight title fights with James DeGale, traveling to England to dethrone the Brit in a massive upset in Dec. ‘17 before conceding the crown in their rematch last April.
The 35-year old from St. Michael, Minn. now finds himself one win away from returning to the title stage, and granted the benefit of home court advantage.
“This is a really big opportunity, for me and for my state,” Truax notes. “Minnesota has been overlooked for too long, but the fans turn out anytime there’s a show. It’s such a great time right now. You got me, Jamal, (middleweight titlist) Rob Brant just fought here in front of a sold-out crowd—it’s been a long time coming for Minnesota to be on the boxing map.”
Truax’s eliminator with Quillin will mark the state’s third major show to take place all within the span of barely two months. Brant made the first defense of his 160-pound title with an 11th round knockout of Khasan Baysangurov on ESPN in February, just nine days before Anthony Dirrell’s hotly contested technical decision win over Avni Yildirim, which—much like will be the case for the April 13 show—aired live on FS1 from The Armory.
Adding to the big fight feel, the forthcoming 12-round title eliminator comes complete with shoulder programming, having served as the most recent subject of the ongoing PBC: Face to Face Fox Sports series. The attention it has already garnered since launching on Sunday has only added to the increasing local buzz.
“The segment just recently aired; I was at the gas station and it was on in the background,” Truax noted. “People who’ve seen me there plenty of times just as a customer are seeing it on TV and looking at me like, ‘I didn’t know you were a boxer.’ It’s just such really good exposure we’ve never really had in the past.”
Assuming the upcoming show meets or surpasses expectations, it’s safe to say there will be plenty more to come.
“Rob Brant’s show at Grand Casino (in Hinckley, Minn.) was sold out, and (Dirrell-Yildirm) had a great crowd too,” notes Truax. “This card is going to be sold out and probably the biggest one yet. All my friends and family have been talking about it since day one. The (event handlers) are expecting 5,000-6,000, whatever they got it set up for, there won’t be any empty seats.
“The fans here, they don’t just come because it’s a big boxing event. It’s almost like it becomes a destination on fight night. There’s no better time to be a boxer than right now with all of the TV deals, and for my home state to be a part of that—it’s just long overdue.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox