Tonight, former WBO middleweight champion Peter "Kid Chocolate" Quillin and former IBF super middleweight champion Caleb Truax meet in a IBF super middleweight eliminator live on FS1 and Fox Deportes from The Armory in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Quillin (34-1-1) fought once in 2017 and once in 2018 (both wins) after a nearly two--year hiatus. Truax lost his IBF title a year ago in a rematch vs. James DeGale and won a tune-up last fall. The card also features an IBF middleweight title eliminator between Sergiy Derevyanchenko and Jack Culcay.
Both fighters are continuing to rebuild from major setbacks that could have spelled the end of their careers. Each, however, has bounced back and is out to prove they still have what it takes to become a world champion again. But only will move forward when they meet Saturday, April 13, at the Minneapolis Armory in a headlining event on FS1 (10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT).
When Daniel Jacobs knocked Quillin out during the first round in December 2015, Quillin was so devastated that he contemplated suicide. Fortunately, he went to see a mental therapist instead. But it was when he began devoting his life to God that things started turning around.
“I’ve dedicated this part of my career to God,” said Quillin, who has spent most of his pro career at middleweight. “Whatever God wants me to do that’s what I will do. This fight will be dedicated to God, so I have to be totally prepared on fight night.
“If God wants me to quit boxing, that is what I will do. Even if I have a fight scheduled, I will not fight and call it a career if that is what he wants me to do.”
Thus far, God hasn’t given those instructions.
As a result, Quillin has regained his love for boxing. He says his fighting skills have returned to peak form. His hand speed, footwork, and accurate jab are back, as well as the punching power he’s displayed for much of his career.
On Sept. 8, 2017, Quillin put them all to use in his first super middleweight bout in nearly six years, winning an eight-round unanimous decision over Dashon Johnson.
But the real test occurred in August 2018, when Quillin faced highly regarded J’Leon Love. Quillin overwhelmed Love and dominated late to win a 10-round unanimous decision.
Against Love, Quillin showed his jab, footwork and punching power could be just as devastating at the higher weight. And they’ll have to be if he expects to get by Truax.
When Quillin steps in the ring against Truax, he will be standing across from a man who is equally determined to prove that his champion-caliber qualities.
Truax briefly held the IBF super middleweight title, when he scored an upset decision win over titleholder James DeGale in December 2018.
But Truax’s reign lasted only four months as DeGale reclaimed the title with a unanimous decision win in the rematch.
What Truax lacks in hand speed and foot speed, he makes up for with sheer determination and nonstop punching. He also has a granite chin, though his defense can be spotty at times.
Truax is highly motivated for this crossroads bout.
“I have to get past Peter Quillin,” Truax said. “If I don’t beat Peter who knows where I will go from there.
“We’re both 35 and we’re no spring chickens anymore. The winner gets that title fight, the loser doesn’t know where he’ll end up; it might be the end of a career.”
Truax, however, says he’s confident he’ll win. The bout will take place in his backyard of Minneapolis -- he is a native of Osseo, Minnesota. Truax says the fan support will be to his advantage.
Further, this fight will not be the first time Truax has been in the ring with Quillin.
“I hired him as a sparring partner several years ago,” Quillin said. “I forget who I was scheduled to fight. As I remember, it was pretty good sparring.
“But honestly, for somebody to spar me and later say he wants to fight me, he must have seen some weakness. I just want to know what weakness he saw. When I hired him, he wasn’t the only sparring partner there. There were several guys.”
Whatever weakness Truax sees in Quillin he isn’t revealing it. But, having felt Quillin’s punching power, he isn’t expecting it to be the determining factor on fight night.
“We’re about the same size, so fighting at super middleweight won’t matter,” Truax said. “He had a lot of power at middleweight, we have to see if that power follows him to 168. I’m a little bigger. We sparred before he won the middleweight title and he had some pop, but nothing that I hadn’t felt before. It’ll be interesting to get hit by him, but I’ll be ready for whatever he brings.”
Quillin’s punching power isn’t the only issue that Truax must overcome. He must find a way to keep Quillin against the ropes and land body shots and uppercuts, as he did in his first bout against DeGale. He must also avoid getting hit continuously by jabs if Quillin fights from outside.
No matter the outcome, this fight is a must-see battle. Each man has something to prove and is determined to emerge victorious. Which means no matter what happens in the ring, fight fans will be the real winners.