Caleb Truax faces his toughest opponent yet

Fighting chance: The stigma of a Midwest boxer

Duran swipes the air with his paw.

"If I fought anywhere else," he says, "that was a win."

The little fish slips through his fingers. It breaks free from the hook, splashing through a hole in the ice house floor.

Caleb Truax (right) takes on Ossie Duran at Target Center
Galen Fletcher
Caleb Truax (right) takes on Ossie Duran at Target Center
Truax ice-fishing with his cousins
Galen Fletcher
Truax ice-fishing with his cousins

Truax's latest retreat into the wilderness is his coldest of the season. The temperature hovers around negative 10 degrees.

After the fight, he made a stop at Malone's in Maple Grove and entered to the standing applause of his friends. Hugs and handshakes came from all angles.

The cheers had faded by the time he got home. He hit play on a video of the fight and searched in vain for what had gone wrong. It kept him awake until 4 a.m.

Now in the ice house, he adds a weight to his fishing line and lets it sink. He tugs slightly on the minnow in the depths below.

Something tugs back. Truax yanks hard on the line and reels it in quickly. Out of the glowing aquamarine abyss comes a crappie. The shimmering, wounded animal flaps its tail and sprays cold water.

"I'm on the board!" Truax boasts to his cousin, who's on pace to deplete the lake of its wildlife.

Several hours later, Truax drops his tackle and leaves the lake. Driving out, he yawns and thinks about his next fight. With the right payday, he could quit the liquor store job.

Then he reconsiders.

"I'll probably just cut back on my hours," he says. "It's hard for me to quit anything flat-out."

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