By: Sean Crose
The last time fans saw IBF super middleweight champion Caleb Plant the world was still in the midst of the pandemic lockdown. And so it was that he had to fight veteran Caleb Truax in a virtually empty auditorium this past January in defense of his belt. Despite the strangeness of the scenario, Plant came across as quite comfortable, jabbing and working the body of Truax early. “He’s very much a student of the game,” welterweight Shawn Porter said on the PBC broadcast. Sure enough, Plant is known to study his opponents inside and out. With that in mind, he’ll have to know his current opponent well indeed if he expects to have any kind of success this weekend.
For this Saturday, Plant will be taking on the one and only Canelo Alvarez for the undisputed super middleweight championship of the world at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino outside of Las Vegas. Unlike his last bout, Plant will be fighting before a live audience this time around – no doubt a big one. He will also be showcasing his considerable skill set in front of a Showtime Pay Per View viewership. Plant may be student of the game, as Porter says, but there’s no school to learn how to deal with the pressure a fight of this caliber can put on a person.
Still, Plant looks determined and confident in the last days leading up to this weekend’s scheduled 12 rounder with the man who may well be the most popular and well regarded boxer on earth. Footage of Plant training shows the kind of intense focus and impressive movement that only comes from pushing oneself and real determination. This is clearly someone who can block out the noise around him. Can Plant block Canelo’s shots, though? As slippery as he can be in the ring, Plant is still going to get hit. What’s more, Canelo’s patient. Very patient. It’s almost as if a few clean shots per round will suffice for the red-haired star until he gets his opponent deep enough to where he can go in for the kill.
Plant’s obvious plan for Saturday’s fight would seem to be to keep Canelo at bay, to prevent the now legendary multi-division champion from being able to go in for the finish. That’s a tall order. Amir Khan was able to outbox Canelo – but only for so long. The same can be said for Sergey Kovalev. Slick as he is, Canelo isn’t Floyd Mayweather slick, nor is he as experienced as Miguel Cotto or as powerful as Gennady Golovkin. Those fighters (along with master boxer Erislandy Lara) all gave Canelo trouble, but Plant doesn’t possess many, if any, of those men’s attributes.
Again, though, Plant is a man who studies, and studies, and studies the sport of boxing. If there’s a chink in Canelo’s armor that can be exploited, it’s a safe bet that Plant will be the one to exploit it come Saturday night.