By Sean Jones: IBF super middleweight champion Caleb Plant (21-0, 12 KOs) believes he’s on the verge of writing his name into the history books of boxing forever on November 6th by beating WBA/WBC/WBO champion Canelo Alvarez to become the first undisputed champ at 168.
Whatever happens in the remainder of Plant’s career after his fight with Canelo (56-1-2, 38 KOs) on November 6th, he’ll always have his name in the history books as the first fighter to unify the 168-lb division.
The Tennesse native Plant is the underdog in this fight, and he’s going to have to put in a special performance for him to defeat the superstar Canelo to take his three titles on the night.
For Plant, 28, a shot at winning, he’s going to have to fight hard for the full 12 rounds instead of just 6. Caleb tends to run out of gas at the midpoint in his fights, and he’s easy to hit after that.
In Plant’s only fight of distinction during his nine-year professional career against Jose Uzcategui, he was marked up in a hurry in the second half of the contest after he gassed out in their fight in 2019.
If that happens against Canelo, Plant might need smelling salts to wake him.
I’m putting my name in those history books FOREVER as boxing’s first undisputed super middleweight of all time 🏆🏆🏆🏆 pic.twitter.com/pJHQdXkHcN
— CalebPlant (@SweetHandsPlant) August 27, 2021
Fans won’t appreciate this record
In terms of records, becoming the first undisputed champion at 168 is low-hanging fruit. It’s a MUCH easier one than trying to do something extraordinary like getting up there with Joe Louis for title defenses.
If Plant or Canelo really wanted to impress the future generation of fans, they would try and break the record for most title defenses or breaking the record for most consecutive knockouts.
Those records would mean a lot more than becoming the first guy to unify the 168-lb division. That’s a low-level record.
Fans don’t care about this record that Canelo and Plant are chasing trying to become the undisputed champion at 168. It’s a division that has never been that popular, even when Joe Calzaghe held titles in the weight class.
When Calzaghe held titles at 168, many boxing fans believed the only reason he chose to fight in that weight class was to avoid getting beaten by campaigning at 160 or 175 against guys like Roy Jones Jr. when he was younger and Bernard Hopkins.
Is this a foxhole for Canelo to hide in?
It’s difficult to say for a certainty whether Canelo truly cares about becoming the first undisputed champion at 168. You can argue that Canelo choosing to fight at 168 is an excuse for making easy money against weak champions.
Some believe that the only reason Canelo has chosen this as a goal is that it’s a foxhole for him to hide for him to take easy fights for BIG money against the weak paper champions at 168 and dodge having to risk his hide against the fighters the boxing public wants to see him fight.
Canelo has made a big production about how important it is for him to take away three years of his career to become the undisputed champion at 168.
The reality is, the only fans from the future generations that will care about this lesser distinction will be the stat freaks that care about that stuff.
Unfortunately, only hardcore stat freak boxing fans who scour the record books with a microscope will be aware that Plant is the first fighter to unify the super middleweight division.
The average boxing fan, which accounts for roughly 99% of all fans, will never be aware of Plant unifying the division. That goes for Canelo as well.
Speaking for myself, I would never care about a fighter becoming the first guy to unify a division. That’s an insignificant record. To me, it’s like breaking the record for most strikeouts in a baseball season.
Who cares about this record? If Canelo and Plant actually wanted to impress someone, they need to break a more important record.
Plant will need to be perfect
“Caleb Plant has improved in every fight in his recent fights, but other than Jose Uzcategui, he hasn’t really fought high-level competition,” said Hall of Fame commentator Al Bernstein to Fighthype. “So while we’ve seen him improve and become a really good fighter, he’ll see a fighter [Canelo Alvarez] that he hasn’t seen before.
“He’ll have to virtually fight the perfect fight, right? He’s going to have to box perfectly, and he’s going to have to avoid getting hit with something big.
“And he’s going to have to do enough damage to keep Canelo off of him.
“His best hope in a way is if Canelo, sometimes he has lulls in his fight where he will take rounds off and not be as active as he normally is.
“So if Caleb Plant is able to put enough of those rounds together, he might be in a situation where he might do something,” Bernstein said.
Yeah, Plant will need to be perfect for him to beat Canelo, considering that he’s probably going to need a knockout for him to be given ‘W’ in that fight. If it goes to a decision, Plant’s goose will be cooked.
If a popular fighter like Gennadiy Golovkin couldn’t get a decision in two tries against Canelo, a far less popular fighter like Plant has virtually zero chance of winning a decision against the Mexican star.
Canelo vs. David Benavidez = compelling fight
“Maybe, I’m going to say maybe,” said Bernstein when asked if Plant has enough talent to beat Canelo.
“I’d say probably,” Bernstein said when asked if Plant has a better shot at beating Canelo than his past opponents Billy Joe Saunders and Callum Smith, both did.
“Better than Saunders because he has a little more pop and a little more offense. So I’d say probably a little better than them.
“I’d like to see him fight David Benavidez. That to me is the most interesting,” Bernstein said when asked who would he like to see Canelo fight after Plant.
I think it’s safe to say that we won’t be seeing Canelo fight former two-time WBC super middleweight champion David Benavidez (24-0, 21 KOs) anytime soon.
Even if Benavidez becomes Canelo’s WBC mandatory by beating Jose Uzcategui on November 13th, you can expect Canelo to vacate that title along with the rest of his belts to move up to 175.
There are fighters that Canelo would obviously rather lose to than Benavidez and surely would lose to him.
If Canelo gets beaten by IBF/WBC light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev or WBA champion Dmitry Bivol, he has an out by blaming the defeat on being too small for the 175-lb division.
It would be viewed as a courageous thing by Canelo, like David vs. Goliath. But if Canelo were to stay at 168 and get beaten by Benavidez, he wouldn’t have that built-in excuse. Canelo would have to swallow the loss and tells the boxing fans that he was beaten by the better fighter.
Somehow, I find it hard visualizing Canelo doing that. I think he would be bitter and filled with excuses to explain to his fans what happened and why he lost.
If you remember Canelo’s excuses after his loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr, you’ll know what I’m talking about.