Caleb Truax had a TV news crew waiting for him when he arrived at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport after recording arguably the biggest upset in British boxing history four months ago.
Truax defeated James DeGale, a 1/100 favorite, by majority decision to take DeGale’s IBF super middleweight title in DeGale’s hometown of London in what was supposed to be a tuneup bout for the 2008 Olympic gold medalist.
“I thought the odds were crazy,” Truax said. “I saw 35-1 and 42-1 odds. I’m like, ‘C’mon, give me a little bit of respect.’ “
Truax, from Osseo, Minnesota, was thrust into the spotlight, but the news quickly moved on.
Boxing’s latest Cinderella Man had to dig into his pockets to pay a publicist to get him interviews on Radio Row at the Mall of America during Super Bowl LII week in Minneapolis.
Even with a world title in his possession, Truax had to pay for his own ticket to watch the Minnesota Vikings’ miracle playoff victory over the New Orleans Saints.
Truax’s marvel was arguably more improbable than what the local football team did in the final 10 seconds. But Truax might need a second miracle to command respect in the boxing world.
Truax (29-3-2, 18 knockouts) is a plus 330 underdog heading into his immediate rematch against DeGale (23-2-1, 14 KOs) on Saturday in the co-main event of a Showtime-televised card at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel. The card airs at 7 p.m. with the junior middleweight unification bout between Erislandy Lara and Jarrett Hurd headlining the event.
DeGale, 32, said he overlooked Truax, 34, during the first fight and blamed a shoulder injury for his poor performance. DeGale vowed to retire if he lost to Truax a second time.
“I came back too quick from the injury, but he still had to get in there and take my belt,” DeGale said. “There’s no disrespect to Caleb, but I’ve fought the very best of the division and come out on top. The real James DeGale will be back on Saturday.”
Truax contemplated retiring from boxing and looking for a different job before landing the first DeGale fight. Truax needed to come up with money to support his family and pay medical bills.
Two years ago, Truax’s girlfriend, Michelle Stocke, suffered a stroke while pregnant with the couple’s daughter.
“It was a hard period, but my girlfriend and daughter Gia are doing well,” Truax said. “What we went through made us stronger, and winning the world title brought us so much joy.
“I always give fighters a hard time when they cry in the ring, but after that fight I couldn’t help it. I cried like a baby in the locker room.”
Truax had other options for work. He has a sociology degree with a minor in African-American studies from the University of Minnesota.
Now the former football walk-on at Virginia State University has plenty of options in the ring. He had a boxer call him out during Thursday’s final news conference.
Truax has come a long way and will now walk into his first Las Vegas fight as a world champion.
Contact Gilbert Manzano at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow@GManzano24 on Twitter.
When: Saturday, 4 p.m. first bell
Where: The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel
Main event: Erislandy Lara vs. Jarrett Hurd, junior middleweight unification bout
Co-main event: Caleb Truax vs. James DeGale, IBF super middleweight title
TV: Showtime, 7 p.m.
Tickets: Axs.com or Hard Rock Hotel box office