Caleb Truax returns to where his professional boxing career started at the Target Center on Friday.
The Osseo native recalled how he was jittery and overanxious at the start of his fight with Ray Walker in front of 5,000 people in 2007.
That all changed when Walker landed his first punch.
“Once you get hit, everything slows down and you have to get back to reality,” said Truax, who won in the second round by TKO.
Truax has participated in 25 fights since his debut (23-1-1), with an ever-growing fan base that should be present in his bout against Ossie Duran (28-11-2) on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights.
“It’s a breath of fresh air to see a whole town stand behind a fighter and have belief … confidence in him to do well,” said Hall of Fame boxer Mike Tyson, who’s one of the promoters of the event. “That’s just awesome and really beautiful. They don’t do that anymore.”
Tyson compared Truax to a politician during Thursday’s news conference in downtown Minneapolis with the ovation he received and the way he spoke to fans in attendance.
The University of Minnesota alum had just two weeks to prepare for Duran. Truax’s original opponent, Derek Ennis, suffered a rib injury while training.
Truax said Ennis and Duran had similar styles, so it was a slight tweak in his game plan.
“He fought a couple other fights that I was able to study on YouTube, so I’ll definitely be prepared,” Truax said.
He has won his last five fights leading into his matchup against Duran, all held in the Twin Cities.
He has fought just three times in his career outside of Minnesota, while Duran is making his first visit.
He said he took the fight because he was shape sparring with Bobby Gunn, who fought Glen Johnson on December 18.
Duran has lost three of his past four fights, including a knockout in the third round to Matt Korobov in June.
It’s the shortest notice for a fight Duran has received in his career, but the Ghana native seems to have more issues with the weather than adapting to Truax’s style.
“Man, it’s cold,” Duran said. “It’s cold.
“[Truax is] a good fighter, decent fighter. Up-and-coming strong fighter. He’s fighting in his hometown, but I’m here to give it to him.”
Truax, nicknamed “Golden,” has fought for a state and international super middleweight title, but he’s never had a shot at a world title — his ultimate goal that he hopes to accomplish by next year.
“This could be it,” he said. “If not this one, then one more steppingstone for a world title shot. I’ll just have to see what my promoters put in front of me.”
Truax isn’t overlooking Duran, although his goal is in sight. Instead, he took the time to reflect on the stones that have been laid over the past seven years leading up to Friday’s bout.
“It’s kind of coming full circle,” Truax said. “First one was at Target Center. Now this one at Target Center.”
This time, Truax won’t be as nervous.