Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Las Vegas is the place. April 7this the date. James Degale looks to regain his IBF supermiddleweight championship of the world against the very man who ripped it from him in his home country, Caleb Truax. Has the brit still got it, or will the 34-year-old man from Minnesota prove that his night at the Copperbox Arena in London was no ‘one-off’?
Caleb Truax pulled off one of the biggest shocks in boxing in recent years against a champion who was priced at 1-100 with some bookmakers. His win looks all the more special when you consider the fact that in April 2016 he was knocked out in the very first round against Anthony Dirrell. Credit must go to Truax for showing such fortitude to come back from such a comprehensive loss.
On the flip side, it looks all the more worse for James Degale. A sloppy performance saw him beat from pillar to post by a strong, determined yet one dimensional fighter.
Degale had been looking for easier fights for his great homecoming fight after a long streak fighting in the USA and Canada, but sometimes by cherry-picking your opponents you end up with a harder fight than you bargained for. Just look at Pacquiao’s defeat to ‘The Hornet’ Jeff Horn for example.
There is no doubt Degale has not looked the same fighter since his reconstructive shoulder surgery and some are wondering whether due to that injury, if he is now lacking the power now to keep fighters honest. Truax just seemed to walk him down and came through anything he threw with little effect.
Another of his glaring weaknesses is that he has lazy spells where he likes to hold his feet and languish on the ropes. It has been a consistent flaw in his style and been apparent throughout his career. Fighters know if they maintain pressure on him that he will eventually take these breaks allowing them an opportunity to tee off.
I don’t see Caleb Truax approaching this fight any differently to the last fight. He will believe that he has found the blueprint to beating ‘Chunky’ and will likely stick by his relentless pressure tactics. However, skill-wise this should really be a very one-sided contest. Despite Truax’s underrated qualities, it is the former Olympic gold medallist who has all the moves in the book to make this an easy night’s work. At his best he is a slick operator capable of beating any supermiddleweight in the world.
Yet we might just have seen the best of him. Is he now on a downwards spiral? His last couple of fights against Badou ‘The Ripper’ Jack and Truax have been tough and he has taken a lot of punishment. They may have taken something out of him.
Even considering his loss, he will still be a heavy favourite again though, although nowhere near those odds from last time. If he uses his boxing brain, stays in the centre of the ring and establishes a jab from the outset, Truax will have all sorts of problems finding him to land. These are all things that he has the capability to execute. A loss could spell retirement, so it is all at stake in this one for James Degale.