Boxing hasn’t had many ‘undisputed’ champions since the WBC and WBA started settling into a state of disrepair in the 1960s. There have been plenty of lineal kings, recognized figureheads…but guys with all the major and most recognized belts (whether there were two, three, or now four) are outnumbered in the hundreds by guys who won a single strap.

Even more rare than undisputed champs is what we have on tap this weekend. 

When there is only one champ, the line forms to their south. The consensus top two contenders to Saul Alvarez at super middleweight will try to push one man farther down the line on Saturday (Showtime PPV, 8 PM EST). Think about the undisputed champions in the last forty to fifty years.

How many times did their legitimate (read: not just a 1-2 sanctioning body fight) highest ranked contenders face off? Ring Magazine ranked Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier 1-2 prior to their rematch while George Foreman sat atop the throne. Ring Magazine and Boxing Illustrated ranked Mike Tyson and Razor Ruddock as the leading contenders to Evander Holyfield prior to both of their fights. 

There are likely other examples but few come quickly to mind. Undisputed champions don’t happen often enough for the stars to align like this. Even when they do, contenders regarded that high are seldom going to risk their spot so close to a crack at the throne. 

It might help in this case that Caleb Plant has already faced, and been defeated by Alvarez. It doesn’t make the match any less mouth watering. This is as good a non-title fight as can be made at super middleweight. We have two talents in their prime, two talents who seem to hold genuine animus, two talents trying to force the hand of the singular talent atop their weight class.

This is what boxing as sport can look like.    

Let’s get into it. 

Stats and Stakes

David Benavidez

Age: 26

Titles: None

Previous Titles: WBC super middleweight (2017-18, 1 Defense; 2019-20)

Height: 6’0    

Weight: 166 ¾ lbs.

Stance: Orthodox

Hails from: Phoenix, Arizona

Record: 26-0, 23 KO

Press Rankings: #1 (TBRB, Ring), #2 (ESPN), #4 (BoxRec) 

Record in Major Title Fights: 3-0, 1 KO

Last Five Opponents: 136-9-4 (.926)

Notable Outcomes, TBRB and/or Ring Rated Foes: Anthony Dirrell KO9; David Lemieux TKO3 

Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: None


Caleb Plant 

Age: 29

Title: None

Previous Titles: IBF Super Middleweight (2019-21, 3 Defenses)

Height: 6’1    

Weight: 167 ¼ lbs.

Stance: Orthodox

Hails from: Nashville, Tennessee

Record: 22-1, 13 KO 

Rankings: #2 (TBRB, Ring), #3 (ESPN), #6 (BoxRec)

Record in Major Title Fights: 4-1, 2 KO

Last Five Opponents: 173-9-6 (.936)

Notable Outcomes, TBRB and/or Ring Rated Foes: Jose Uzcategui UD12; Caleb Truax UD12; Saul Alvarez TKO by 11; Anthony Dirrell KO9

Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: None

The Case for Benavidez: Benavidez looks like a new man after a grueling training camp, lean and cut where normally he appears to have squeezed down just long enough to step off the scale. Benavidez is used to being a bigger man in his fights and will have to adjust to a foe who matches his height and length. That adjustment will come off his pressure and accurate combinations. Benavidez has great vision and knows how to use one punch to set up another in sequence. He flows from body to head seamlessly and Benavidez is remarkably quick when he gets to the third and fourth shot in a salvo. To win Saturday, Benavidez has to keep chipping away at what will be a moving target, allowing the progress of the fight to open his chances to turn one and two shots at a time into three, four, or more. A successful Benavidez can be in position to drown Plant with offense in the late stage of the fight. 

The Case for Plant: Plant reportedly has a huge ring to work with, some 22-feet, allowing him extra steps to avoid the ropes and keep Benavidez chasing him. Plant throws the straighter, more precise shots. If Plant gets off and can limit Benavidez’s output, he could force Benavidez to get sloppy. Hard counter openings can emerge from there. Plant might want to avoid taking too much advantage of the ring size. The extra room to move could be tempting but anything he can do to save his legs for the stretch will matter. Too much movement early could mean fatigue late. Plant has the edge in big fight experience to draw on too. Benavidez has never been in a fight this big. Plant, though defeated, has and can draw on that in dealing with any nerves on the night of the fight.  

The Pick: This feels like a fight where Benavidez should be the favorite. Benavidez is such a talented offensive fighter it’s hard not to see his advantages. Yes, Benavidez can be caught squaring up, but he also can land punches at absurd angles even while opponents should be out of range of an extra shot or two. Benavidez is good at tracking a moving target, anticipating where they will be as they circle away and catching them on the way out. It might not look like it matters early but it will as the fight moves along. 

Plant being ahead, maybe even scoring a flash knockdown, through six or seven rounds wouldn’t be a surprise. What happens from there is what will determine the outcome. Twelve rounds is a long time to be in the ring with Benavidez. Plant can do it but the guess  Benavidez has more fire power, more offensive creativity, and is the more fluid fighter of the two. The thinking here is his heavy hands and unpredictable combinations eventually break Plant down. The pick is Benavidez by late stoppage.

Additional Weekend Picks

Ramirez TKO Commey

Estrada Dec Rupprecht

Calle Dec Salazar 

Rold Picks 2023: 9-1

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at