LAS VEGAS – The sudden, emphatic ending to Caleb Plant’s win against Anthony Dirrell earned the former IBF super middleweight champion numerous “Knockout of the Year” awards for 2022.

The three judges also had Plant in front by big margins through nine rounds of their scheduled 12-rounder October 15 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. As impressive as Plant performed in his return from an 11th-round knockout loss to Canelo Alvarez, David Benavidez noticed plenty of flaws that night in the rival he’ll oppose Saturday night at MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Benavidez (26-0, 23 KOs) wasn’t as stunned as most onlookers, either, by how Plant (22-1, 13 KOs) knocked Dirrell unconscious with a picture-perfect left hook in the ninth round.

“I wasn’t surprised at all,” Benavidez told “It was a good shot. Whoever gets caught with a good shot like that, you know, an unblocked shot, is gonna suffer the consequences. You know, it was a good fight. You know, I definitely did see that he was getting touched up a little bit, Caleb Plant, in the beginning of the fight. I know Anthony Dirrell has no power at all. So, I know if I catch Caleb Plant with those same punches, he’s gonna go to sleep.”

Benavidez became the first opponent to stop Dirrell inside the distance 3½ years ago in their fight for the WBC super middleweight title. Dirrell (34-3-2, 25 KOs) bled badly from a nasty gash above his right eye and was still standing when Benavidez beat him by ninth-round knockout in September 2019 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Benavidez-Dirrell was slightly closer on the scorecards entering the ninth round (79-73, 78-74, 78-74), but Benavidez believes Dirrell deserved more credit during his fight with Plant from judges Steve Weisfeld (80-72), Kevin Morgan (79-73) and Robin Taylor (79-73).

“I definitely thought Anthony Dirrell won a couple rounds,” Benavidez said. “They did have it a little lopsided, but I mean, it is what it is. It didn’t really matter. The scorecards didn’t really mean anything at the end. So, that’s why I’m going into this fight thinking I’ve gotta get a knockout. You know, I never like to leave anything to the judges.”

The 26-year-old Benavidez, a Phoenix native who resides and trains just outside of Seattle, has won 88 percent of his professional bouts by knockout. The 30-year-old Plant, a native of Ashland City, Tennessee, has a significantly lower knockout ratio (57 percent).

Benavidez, who will defend his WBC interim 168-pound championship, is listed by most sportsbooks as a 3-1 favorite in advance of their Showtime Pay-Per-View main event (9 p.m. ET; $74.99).

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.