LAS VEGAS – In December, Osseo's Caleb Truax went across the pond and scored the biggest upset in British boxing history by beating James DeGale by majority decision, taking the IBF super middleweight belt away in the process.
Saturday night inside the Hard Rock Hotel, DeGale served the revenge he vowed to against Truax.
DeGale survived a game Truax to win a unanimous decision and regain the crown.
Judges Robert Hoyle and Don Trella scored the fight 114-113 in favor of DeGale, while John McKaie scored it 117-110.
"I thought I did enough to win the fight, but I also thought I was pretty flat and didn't get my shots off like I wanted," said Truax (29-4-2, 18 knockouts). "I was just a little bit flat. I felt really good coming in, but I just couldn't get my shots off like the last fight. He never hurt me, but it is what it is."
"I'm just happy that I'm a two-time world champion and I got my IBF world title back," DeGale (24-2-1, 14 KOs). "Two-and-a-half years I had it and I lost it to Caleb. He embarrassed me, but we're back.
"It feels great. But full credit to Caleb – he showed he can mix it with the top fighters."
The two boxers left the hotel in the same ambulance, headed for a local hospital.
DeGale opened the fight with plenty of confidence, winning the first two rounds as the aggressor, while it appeared Truax was trying to find his rhythm and figure out his opponent.
Truax didn't land his first good shot until late in the second round, then carried the momentum over to win the next four rounds. A vicious head butt in the third round opened a nasty gash near DeGale's right eye.
Truax appeared to gain confidence in the fourth and fifth rounds, keeping DeGale backpedaling, and on his heels while landing countering shots. It was a strategy the 34-year-old said he worked on for the rematch, after working closely with his boxing coach Tom Halstad.
As Truax continued to pursue DeGale in the fifth round, the former champ asked referee Robert Byrd for a head butt call, but the ploy didn't work. In the sixth round, DeGale asked Byrd for an elbow call, and as the referee told him to keep fighting, Truax landed a huge blow.
From there, Truax seemingly went away from the strategy that put him in control of the bout, and began fighting tentative while allowing DeGale to gain steam. With blood streaming down the right side of his face, and his eyesight from his right eye blurred, DeGale was able to land several shots to slow Truax and keep him from stalking.
"I couldn't see from my right eye," said DeGale, who was emphatic at Thursday's final prefight press conference about his superiority over Truax and said if he lost the rematch he would retire. "I like Robert Bryd, but today he was a bit wrong. I couldn't see. But I'm just glad I got through it. I showed some heart. In my last fight, I was like a weak little kid."
Truax, who entered the ring Saturday as a more than 3-to-1 underdog, rebounded to win the 10th round, during which DeGale was deducted a point for a shoulder push.
The point deduction helped Truax after falling behind, but DeGale was determined, using his experience to win the final two rounds by landing continuous jabs and uppercuts, while sustaining the better energy.
DeGale said he would be open to negotiate a rubber match after splitting the first two bouts, and Truax entertained the idea.
"Absolutely, I gave him a rematch straight away so why not do it again," Truax said.