by Jason Olson
Caleb Truax (23-1-2) returned to the Target Center for the first time since his pro debut Jan. 3 against late addition Ossie Duran (28-11-3). Truax is a 2002 graduate of Osseo Senior High School.
Despite a heavily pro-Truax crowd, the three judges reached a unanimous decision on a 95-95 draw in the co-main event for ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights” 17th-season debute.
Truax, an Osseo native and USBA Middleweight champion was of course discouraged about the 10-round performance and result, hoping a strong showing would vault him higher in the rankings for a world championship.
“I just had an off-night,” Truax said. “[Duran] was tough tonight and had good defense and I couldn’t get my shots off like I should have. I should’ve won but it was close so I’m not going to complain. Gotta learn from it and figure out what I did wrong and learn what I can from it.”
Duran was equally as disappointed in the result since he bloodied Truax, took the fight so late and fought near Truax’s hometown.
“I’ve been going through this for a long time,” Duran said. “Anytime I come to people’s backyard I play this decision and today I’m like I’ve got to give it my all and look at what happens. Caleb is a nice guy and everything but I thought I won it. It was a good fight but you know.”
Mike Tyson sat ringside as his IronMike Promotions teamed with Seconds Out Promotion on the event and Teddy Atlas, Tyson’s longtime trainer, on the telecast across the ring.
Truax, and Duran, the Ghanaian Gladiator, traded blows during the match that finished with a flurry of punches in the final 10 seconds by both.
According to the ESPN broadcast, Truax led 5-4 going into the 10th round, despite a bloody nose thanks to big punches landed by Duran in the fourth round.
Both uses jabs to set up overhand shots but Truax threw in some body blows in an attempt to open up Duran later in the bout.
Truax wasn’t holding anything back with a big right hand shot connected midway through the round before counter punches by Duran sent Truax to the ropes.
Duran showed some bursts of punches in the sixth and seventh rounds but Truax responded to the friendly crowd to answer the attacks by the bell. Duran had Truax against the ropes near his corner late in the sixth round but Caleb connected with an uppercut in the seventh round but couldn’t find an opening to do damage with a flurry of punches in the closing moments of the seventh round.
Truax landed a left hook, straight right combination early in the eighth round but Duran countered again with another big right hand shot.
“I’m trying to replace him at 12th in the world to replace him and everyone keeps avoiding me,” Duran, a 36-year-old Ghanan-native living in Paterson, New Jersey said . “I’ve been taking fights two, three weeks notice. I jumped on and proved myself. I hope this fight will sell me a little bit. I’m worried but I’m not at the same time. I thank God everyone is fine.”
Truax seemed to take the ninth round with an aggressive final minute that included another big uppercut with 25 seconds left. Duran, seemingly unphased by the punch, flexed for the crowd after the bell before reigning boos from the crowd as he returned to his corner.
Both knew the match was close so the final round saw plenty of action but Duran seemed to land larger shots to win the 10th round.
“He’s a strong, solid guy and I knew that coming in but it was up to me to solve that puzzle and didn’t throw enough combinations and didn’t put my punches together good enough.”
As for fighting in front of the hometown crowd, Truax added: “I love it. They support me and come out every time and they’ll come out next time. I love those guys, everyone out there is my friend and fans and awesome to look out there.”
Truax was originally slated to fight Derek Ennis, but an injury in early Decemeber forced him to withdraw opening up the spot for Duran.
The other main event saw Rances Barthelemy win the IBF junior lightweight championship with a controversial second-round knock out of Argenis Mendez. Barthelemy (20-0, 13 KOs) had a pair of knockdowns and the second came on combination punches after the bell.
Mendez (21-3-1, 11 KOs) was knocked to the canvas for the first time in his career and is promoted by Tyson who plans to appeal to decision.
Contact Jason Olson at [email protected]