Undefeated middleweight prospect Caleb Truax believes that his April 20 bout with comebacking former undisputed middleweight champion Jermain Taylor is a huge step in the direction of becoming a legitimate world title contender. He’s also taking a huge step-up in competition, moving from the armories and hotel ballrooms of his native Minnesota to the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Buloxi, Miss. to headline a ShoBox: The New Generation event on Showtime.
The 28-year-old Truax (18-0-1, 10 knockouts), of Osseo, Minn., has been training in various gyms around the Minneapolis area, sparring with local pros and top amateurs from around the region. Though the selection may be thin in the “City of Lakes”, Truax has found fighters that he feels adequately prepared him to deal with Taylor’s most devastating weapon, his jab.
“Taylor has always had one of the best in the business, so it’s important for me to get accustomed to a long, hard jab going into this fight,” said Truax, whose biggest wins to date include a split-decision verdict over Minnesota rival Andy Kolle last May, as well as dominant victories over faded former contenders Jonathan Reid and Antwun Echols.
Taylor (29-4-1, 18 KOs), of Little Rock, Ark., broke a 26-month layoff in December with an eighth-round TKO win over club fighter Jessie Nicklow on ShoBox.
Taylor’s career was one of quick ascent and as precipitous a descent as any major star has experienced in recent history. After defeating Bernard Hopkins twice to end his legendary middleweight championship reign, Taylor failed to excite in three successive defenses before losing by a knockout to Kelly Pavlik in 2007, followed by a unanimous decision defeat in a rematch the following year.
Taylor rebounded with a unanimous decision victory over fellow 2000 U.S. Olympian Jeff Lacy, but suffered back-to-back twelfth round knockout losses to Carl Froch and Arthur Abraham, forcing him to the sidelines as his body healed.
Truax said that it’s hard to tell what Taylor has left of his old form because Nicklow didn’t provide much of a threat, but that he’s preparing for the best possible version of “Bad Intentions”.
“He wasn’t really tested in his last fight so it’s hard to say,” said Truax, who hasn’t fought in close to a year after his ShoBox debut against Brandon Gonzales in January was canceled after Gonzales suffered a torn hamstring in training.
“I know I will be expecting the Taylor who was middleweight champion and who beat Bernard Hopkins and that’s the man I will be prepared for.”
Truax added that Taylor was a “top flight fighter” who “doesn’t have many weaknesses,” but says that he has noticed some mistakes in the 33-year-old Taylor’s technique.
“He falls forward with his jab, leaving him open for counters. And he points his right hand, making it easier to see coming,” said Truax. “It’s up to me to take advantage of that.”
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to GMA News and the Filipino Reporter newspaper in New York City. He is also a member of The Ring ratings panel. He can be reached at [email protected]. An archive of his work can be found at www.ryansongalia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.