Boxing in Minnesota, especially in Minneapolis, is becoming more and more like Las Vegas and Atlantic City as a championship venue. “It has become a prominent and recognized venue in boxing,” said Showtime boxing host, Brian Custer, a couple of days before last Saturday’s eight-bout card at The Armory, which included two title fights.
The historic building holds 8,400 people and has been hosting fights since 2018.
Current super middleweight champion David Morrill, Jr., former world champions Caleb Truax and Jamal James, and VeShawn Owens all call it their home ring. Slink Proper (Sona Akale) and Andree Reid, Jr. hope one day to fight there as well.
“It’s a historical building and tons of boxing history,” said Truax, who lost in a majority decision to Burley Brooks last Saturday. “You can feel it. It is one of the premier boxing venues in the country right now. It is an awesome hidden gem in Minneapolis.”
Minnesota has a rich boxing history: Harris “The Black Pearl” Martin (1865-1903), was the first world “colored” middleweight champ who hailed from Minneapolis. A 2010 Minnesota Boxing Hall of Fame inductee, he died at age 38 after suffering a heart attack while walking home from work. Arthur “Flash” Johnson fought here as a flyweight contender (1992-2003).
Traux, an Osseo native and University of Minnesota graduate, has been one of Minnesota’s most recognizable fighters since he turned pro in 2007, after winning the state USA Boxing, Region 1, and Upper Midwest Golden Gloves titles. He was the IBF super middleweight champ from 2017 to 2018.
Now nearing 40 years old, Truax (31-6-2) is seeking one more chance at the belt. “I don’t feel the age has caught up with me in the ring,” he told the MSR a couple of weeks before his scheduled fight last weekend. “I don’t feel I have lost any steps.”
Morrill, who defected from Cuba and came to Minnesota a few years ago, said, “I think Minnesota first of all… It is my second home,” he said in Spanish, as his brother translated in English.
James held the WBA welterweight title from 2020 to 2021. He and the super lightweight Owens are stablemates at the Circle of Discipline boxing program.
St. Paul boxing promoter Quincy Caldwell, who owns and runs Coach Q Training in St. Paul, told reporters, including the MSR, during a June 14 open workout and news conference at Element Gym in St. Paul, “Minnesota boxing is very underrated.”
Both Truax and Proper admitted that finding suitable boxers to train with can be challenging. “We don’t have the number of fighters thaat they have in California,” noted the former. “Truthfully, I’m at the level where I can bring in guys to mimic styles when I’m fighting an opponent.”
Proper trained with Truax in preparation for his June 17 scheduled fight against Cameron Krael of Las Vegas, where he suffered his first defeat as a pro by TKO in the 6th round. “The preparation was extremely intense,” stressed the St. Paul native, who record is now 7-1.
Reid, Jr. won his second pro fight on the same card with Proper, a first-round knockout over Christopher Morrow, and is now 1-0-1. He first fought as a pro in March.
“No matter what platform I’m on…I am an African American young man [age 26], who loves my family,” said Reid. “I love boxing. I’m promoting love, happiness, joy whenever you see me.”
Caldwell said his main goal as a boxing promoter is to provide fair opportunities for local fighters. “It’s nothing to do with ego for me,” he declared. “My goal is to give fighters the opportunities to build their careers.”