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Who’s Caleb Plant And Why Does Canelo Alvarez Want To Fight Him So Badly?

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More and more, it looks like Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s next opponent will be IBF super middleweight titlist Caleb “Sweethands” Plant. Per Mike Coppinger of ESPN, negotiations are winding down and a deal between the two fighters is imminent.

The bout would be held on September 18, keeping with Alvarez’s preferred Mexican Independence Day weekend fight date. It’ll also be a FOX/Premier Boxing Champions pay-per-view event.

Mexico’s Alvarez, who recently got out of his long-term deal with streaming service DAZN and his promotional contract with Golden Boy, is a full free agent in the sport. In his last few fights, though, he’s been working with DAZN and Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing on a fight-by-fight basis. This Plant bout, if it does indeed get finalized, will be his first outside of the DAZN platform since beating Gennadiy Golovkin in 2018. ESPN’s Coppinger is also saying that the Plant bout would be built around an Alvarez one-fight deal with advisor Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions.

All of this brings casual/curious fans and those not familiar with the super middleweight division to the question of who Caleb Plant is and what, exactly, he brings to the table. So, here’s a bit of info on the 29-year-old, mostly culled from previews written by this writer for the Premier Boxing Champions official website.

Why Saul Alvarez wants to fight Caleb Plant:

Plant holds the IBF 168 lb. title, the last belt Alvarez needs to become a 4-belt, fully unified super middleweight champ– something that the Mexican star, who holds the WBA/WBC/WBO titles is said to want very much.

A Brief Bio of Caleb Plant:

Life’s been a struggle every step of the way for Plant, nothing’s been easy. From extreme poverty [growing up in a broken-down trailer in Tennessee] to the horror of dealing with the death of his beautiful 19-month-old daughter, life has conspired to pull him away from his dreams, to stop him from becoming who he always thought he’d become. Even after beating tough-as-nails Jose Uzcategui for the IBF world title, the young fighter had to deal with the tragedy of losing his mother, who was shot in an altercation with a police officer.

Through it all, Plant has held firm in his self-belief and rock-steady in his focus. He’s crawled his way through the broken glass of a shattered life and staked his claim to a spot on the world stage.

His resume, while still a work in progress, showcases high-water mark wins over Jose Uzcategui, Rogelio Medina, Mike Lee, and Caleb Truax.

Caleb Plant’s Skill Set and Fighting Style (Courtesy of PremierBoxingChampions.com):

Plant is a throwback boxing stylist who patiently works angles and throws quick, fluid combinations when opportunity presents itself. His solid jab, thrown both to the head and body, creates space and establishes tempo. He’s not exceptionally heavy-handed, but his speed does create impact and earns respect from opposition. Already regarded as one of the better technical fighters in the game, his ring IQ continues to grow each fight.

With a hint of the tilted shoulder, give-‘em-the-side-of-your-body positioning à la classic James Toney, “Sweethands” is adept at defense and all-around excellent in the transition from defense to offense and vice versa.

Plant’s Chances against Alvarez:

It’s this writer’s firm belief that Plant is a better all-around fighter than recent Canelo foes, Callum Smith and Billy Joe Saunders and, maybe, the best he’s faced since Daniel Jacobs in 2019. Of course, that’s not saying all that much since Alvarez blasted away Smith and Saunders and scored a comfortable decision over Jacobs.

Alvarez will open as a huge betting favorite in this bout– and rightfully so. But Plant isn’t a soft-touch no-hoper by any stretch of the imagination. He’s got good skills, quick hands, and he’s physically durable. If he channels the James Toney in him, he can give Alvarez some unique, off-putting looks in the ring and touch him up. He could have his moments. And if he strings together enough of those moments, well, anything’s possible in boxing.

Plant most likely won’t beat Alvarez, but he WILL be an intriguing, complex, and mega-confident B-side.

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Paul Magno has over forty years of experience in and around the sport of boxing and has had his hand in everything, from officiating to training. As a writer, his work has appeared in several online publications, including Yahoo Sports, Fox Sports, FightHype, Max Boxing, Boxing.com, Inside Fights, The Boxing Tribune, The Queensberry Rules, and Premier Boxing Champions. You can reach him at: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com