David Benavidez could be in store for the opportunity of his career but he must first defeat Caleb Plant, according to promoter Eddie Hearn.
Benavidez, the highly regarded super middleweight contender from Phoenix, Arizona, is projected to face Plant in a 168-pound, non-title matchup next year, likely in March. Neither a date nor venue has been announced, but both Plant and Benavidez confirmed on their social media accounts last month that they had signed contracts to face each other.
If Benavidez beats Plant, it could catapult him into a showdown with the division’s undisputed champion, Canelo Alvarez. The Mexican superstar has repeatedly criticized Benavidez (and others) for calling him out, saying he does not deserve a fight with him based on his current résumé. A win over Plant, a former titlist who gave up his belt in a fight with Alvarez last year, could change that for the 25-year-old.
It’s a scenario that even Hearn, the Matchroom head who currently promotes Alvarez, apparently approves of, even though he does not have rights to Benavidez in any way. Benavidez is backed by Sampson Lewkowicz and Premier Boxing Champions. Hearn, on the other hand, quickly shot down an Alvarez-Plant rematch, something that Plant has repeatedly cited as being his top priority. Alvarez stopped Plant in the 11th round of their mostly competitive 168-pound undisputed fight last November at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
“I don’t see any point in a Caleb Plant rematch,” Hearn said in a media scrum last Saturday night after the conclusion of the Roman Gonzalez vs. Juan Francisco Estrada flyweight title bout in Glendale, Arizona. “He beat him up and knocked him out after a good start from Caleb Plant.
“I think the David Benavidez-Canelo Alvarez fight is a big fight, if he (Benavidez) beats Caleb Plant. I’ve been very lucky to know Canelo. He would never ever duck one fight. He also feels like, not 'you have to earn your shot,' but you can’t just fight nobody and get a shot. I think David Benavdiez would agree that he’s fought nobody at an elite level. The Caleb Plant is a fantastic fight (for Benavidez), that’s exactly the kind of fight that should be getting made. If he beats Caleb Plant I think he can scream from the rooftops a fight with Canelo Alvarez and I expect him to get there.”
A Benavidez-Plant fight, if it can even happen given all the corporate politics in boxing, would likely not be able to take place until 2024, as Alvarez's schedule for 2023 already looks virtually set. Alvarez, who is recovering from wrist surgery, is looking to return to the ring next spring, possibly against England’s John Ryder. After that, Alvarez may turn his attention to fighting light heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol in a rematch for September. Alvarez dropped a unanimous decision to the Russian in their 175-pound title bout last May. Since then, Alvarez made it clear that his top preference is to avenge that loss.
“Obviously, Canelo’s plans this year are maybe John Ryder and maybe Dmitry Bivol,” Hearn said. “But after that, a David Benavidez fight would be very big.”