Caleb Truax was a 50-to-1 underdog when he won a majority decision over James DeGale in London. That was in December 2017, Truax was 34, and that gave him the International Boxing Federation's super middleweight championship.
The victory over DeGale was declared to be the "Upset of the Year'' for 2017 for international boxing. It's difficult to get that distinction twice in a career, but the Osseo fighter could lock it up early for 2021 with a startling defeat of Caleb Plant on Saturday night in Los Angeles.
Once again, the betting odds are 50-to-1, although the sportsbooks definitely fudge the numbers when it comes to boxing. If you want to win $100 on Plant, the risk is $5,000. If you want to bet $100 on Truax, you can collect between $2,000 and $2,750, depending on the book.
"I don't understand why everyone is so high on Plant,'' Truax said. "He has talent, but he hasn't had many tough fights. [Jose] Uzcategui … Plant beat him to win the title a couple of years ago, and that guy's a tough fighter.
"That's his best win, and it was a decision.''
The excitement over Plant is such that he's expected to get a big-money fight with Canelo Alvarez, based on a win over Truax. Plant is an unbeaten 28-year-old originally from Nashville — 20-0 with 12 knockouts, including in his first two title defenses.
The title fight headlines the Premier Boxing Champions card Saturday on Fox. Heidi Androl, the reporter and interviewer for Fox PBC Fight Nights, was asked by phone if she could offer encouragement for Truax fans back in Minnesota.
"I was covering the fight last August when Caleb became ill and had to bow out,'' Androl said. "He was so down over that I didn't know if we were going to see him again.
"It's always a pleasure working Caleb's fights, because you don't get a sweeter human than him. And talking with him, he seems to be in a very good mental space for this fight.
"If you know Caleb Truax, you're just hoping we all get to see him at his best.''
Truax, now 37, will be fighting for the IBF world title that he held for four months: from Dec. 9, 2017, with the shocking win in DeGale's home city of London, to April 7, 2018, when he lost the rematch on a unanimous decision to DeGale in Las Vegas.
That fight was 11 years and a day from the start of Truax's career on April 6, 2007, with a TKO of Ray Walker at Target Center. That was on the undercard of the "Heavyweight Invasion,'' featuring Freight Train Walker vs. El Torito Garcia and Rochester's Raphael Butler vs. Art "The Polish Warrior'' Binkowski.
Long journey for Truax, from deep on the undercard of the long-forgotten heavyweight invasion, to a third World Title fight in the Shrine Exposition Center in L.A., before a national TV audience and very few in-house spectators.
"It is so strange being there,'' Androl said. "There's some noise added to the telecast, I believe, but in the arena, it's silent except for the boxers. You can hear every punch landing. That's a dramatic reminder of what a fighter goes through in this sport.''
Truax has gone through plenty since the second DeGale fight. He suffered an 18-stitch cut on a head butt from Peter Quillin on April 13, 2019, and the fight was ruled a no-decision after two rounds. He was getting ready for another fight with Quillen and tore an Achilles' tendon in training.
Then, in late August of last year, he was in the PBC bubble in L.A., awaiting a fight with Alfredo Angulo, became ill, and had to bow out.
I had talked with Truax the day before he became ill. This week, again by phone from L.A., I said to Caleb that he had sounded less-enthused about the Angulo fight than before prior fights.
"Not really … I had trained hard and was feeling good,'' Truax said. "I just got sick; so sick the paramedics were called. It was described as 'dehydration,' but it was just a bout of something that lasted three, four days.
"I'm a professional. The hardest thing I've had to do in boxing was tell people I was too sick to fight. It cost a lot of people money. I'm very grateful to PBC for giving me this chance.''
Plant has kept in his possession a tweet from Truax from several years ago that's alleged to show disrespect. What's that?
"I was watching one of his fights, it was a terrible mismatch, and Plant was clowning the guy, embarrassing him,'' Truax said. "And I tweeted that I hoped the guy would land a punch and beat him.''
Fifty-to-one, 20-to-one, whatever Caleb, it's stacked high against you Saturday?
"I've been there before,'' Truax said.
Heidi Androl breaks down Truax's opponent Caleb Plant
Heidi Androl is the reporter and interviewer for Fox telecasts of Premier Boxing Champions. She was asked this week about what Osseo's Caleb Truax faces on Saturday night against Caleb Plant, the heavily promoted IBF super middleweight champion:
"Plant's good and he's fast, but the difference between him and most fighters, I would say, is that he's extremely strong mentally. Of all his assets, I would put head space at No. 1.
"Everyone who follows boxing knows that mental strength can make or break a fighter. Plant watches his fights and opponents fights over and over and he remembers everything he sees.
"Everything. He still remembers that Caleb Truax sent out a tweet about him that he didn't like four or five years ago.
"And in that mind of his, Plant has to be thinking, 'Canelo [Alvarez] is next with a win.' And with a chance like that, a big-money fight with Canelo … that's a tremendous incentive for Plant to have a great performance.''