Caleb Plant and David Benavidez can only agree on one thing these days—the level of disdain they hold for one another.
Yet, they can’t even agree neither on the starting point nor cause of their long-standing rivalry.
The pair of unbeaten super middleweight titlists have spent the better part of the past 20 or months circling one another, more so once they both rose to the top of the division. Benavidez (22-0, 19KOs) claimed his first title in September 2017, making one successful defense before being stripped of his belt after a September 2018 random drug test showed cocaine in his system.
The now 23-year old has reclaimed his belt, scoring a 9th round stoppage of Anthony Dirrell last September. By that point, Plant (20-0, 12KOs) was more than eight months into his own title, since registering his second successful defense following a stoppage win over Germany’s Vincent Feigenbutz this past February in his home region of Nashville, Tennessee.
Even before that fight, there came non-stop chatter over who is the best and how a unification clash would settle their differences. The closest they’ve come so far is their camps getting into a gym scuffle in the latter part of 2018, with plenty of words shared since then. Some of those words have crossed the line of fair play.
“We agree to disagree on who’s better and that’s fine,” Plant explained on a recent installment of ‘The PBC (Premier Boxing Champions) Podcast’ with Kenneth Bouhairie and Michael Rosenthal. “But [Jose Benavidez Sr., David’s father and trainer] made comments on my daughter, how I shouldn’t talk about her anymore... that I’m just using her to famous and that she doesn’t need to be spoken about anymore and stuff like that.”
The claim is in reference to Plant’s deceased daughter Alia, who passed away from a rare disease in January 2015, less than four months from her 2nd birthday. It came during Plant’s first year as a pro boxer and with her tragic passing serving as his source of inspiration ever since.
“I don’t feel it’s any man’s place to tell me or any man for that matter, how to keep his daughter’s spirit alive,” notes Plant. “I don’t cram it down people’s throats. But at the same time, that energy doesn’t die, it gets transferred. She may not be here but her spirit still lives and it lives through me. She’s a huge motivating factor for me.
“When men go to war, they usually leave the women and children at home. So for him to be speaking about my daughter, that’s past boxing. That’s not right, especially when his two kids (David and older brother Jose Jr.) don’t know how to keep their nose clean. Be careful how you speak on the dead who aren’t even here no more, when nobody’s hands are clean.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox