Jose Uzcategui vs. Caleb Plant: Stats & Stakes


by Cliff Rold

If boxing were a movie, the hard luck underdog would win the title and ride off into the sunset in the final frame. Everyone goes home happy.

Boxing isn’t a movie. What really happens is the underdog immediately becomes the hunted. With a belt in tow, they defend it as long as they can, collecting checks until someone can push them back in the pecking order.

Jose Uzcategui wasn’t expected by most to upset Andre Dirrell for the interim IBF super middleweight belt in 2017. Ultimately, he didn’t. It made his story more pointed. Ahead on two of three cards, Uzcategui was disqualified for a shot after the bell and then took a foul shot from one of Dirrell’s cornermen. The whole affair led to a rematch.

The second time, Uzcategui landed all the shots he needed before the bell. He dominated Dirrell and has since been elevated to the full IBF title. Now, he makes his first defense on a well-advertised Sunday night (FS1, 8 PM EST). Does Uzcategui extend his happy ending or is it Caleb Plant’s turn to heads towards the light?

Let’s get into it.


Stats and Stakes

Jose Uzcategui

Age: 28

Title: IBF super middleweight (2018-Present, 1stAttempted Defense)

Previous Titles: None

Height: 6’2

Weight: 165 ¼ lbs.

Stance: Orthodox

Hails from: Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico (Born in Venezuela)

Record: 28-2, 23 KO

Press Rankings: #3 (Ring), #4 (ESPN), #5 (Boxing Monthly), #8 (TBRB, BoxRec)

Record in Major Title Fights: 1-1, 1 KO in interim title fights

Last Five Opponents: 112-32-2 (.774)

Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: None


Caleb Plant

Age: 26

Title/Previous Titles: None

Height: 6’1 

Weight: 166 ¾ lbs.

Stance: Orthodox

Hails from: Henderson, Nevada

Record: 17-0, 10 KO

Press Rankings: Unrated – IBF mandatory

Record in Major Title Fights: 1st title fight

Last Five Opponents: 112-28-4 (.792)

Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: None

The Case for Uzcategui: The defending beltholder is the more experienced pro and has shown steady improvement over the years. His pressing approach has become more refined and he’s a hard guy to keep at bay. Uzcategui has quick hands, puts them together in combination, and changes speeds well. While he was down against Matt Korobov in 2014, his chin has otherwise been reliable and Plant doesn’t appear too big a puncher. Uzcategui doesn’t always use his jab as much as he could but he can make up for that in the way he doubles up on his left hook to the body and head. Plant can be a hard target so Uzcategui has to be thinking about how to work in several blows at a time and keep his output consistent. If he’s willing to miss a few to land enough, he gives himself his best chances on the cards. If he can get to Plant’s body early and force him to the ropes, he’ll have a chance for more as Plant’s resistance hasn’t been tested at this level yet.

The Case for Plant: Plant enters with a lopsided, if dull, victory over veteran Rogelio Medina. Medina is the most notable common foe for both men. Plant beat him by a wider margin; Uzcategui beat Medina when he had fewer miles on him. Plant’s lack of experience doesn’t mean there aren’t visible assets working in his favor. Plant is probably about the equal of Uzcategui in quickness and he’s used to working to win the most rounds in any given fight. Plant’s win over Medina went twelve; his previous three wins all went the full ten. Plant’s defensive skill set is what could mean victory on Sunday. His head and upper body movement are excellent and his footwork helps his to control distance. He picks his spots for offense, working with a long jab, a sneaky right, and whipping shots to the body. If he can stifle Uzcategui’s offense and stop him from getting on a roll, Plant has a real chance to win.

The Pick: This is a tough fight to handicap because we’re still learning a bit about the ceiling for both fighters. Was the rematch performance against Dirrell the best we can see from Uzcategui? Is Plant the sort of defensive cutie who gets even better when the pressure is greater? We’re about to find out. The thinking here is Uzcategui is strong enough to stay close to Plant and, while he’ll miss his share, the punches he lands will be harder and he’ll force the fight enough for that to count. It’s the sort of contest where we could see divergent scores as the judges have to determine whether aggression in effective or who is really playing the ring general. In a close fight, it’s sometimes easier to favor the man who is making the fight and so the pick is the more seasoned Uzcategui, maybe by a split or majority decision.

Rold Picks 2019: 0-0

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at [email protected]

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by Chrismart on 01-14-2019

Plant just so much sharper in the exchanges early on. Uzcategui looked real slow, totally neglected the jab also.

Comment by Tony Trick-Pony on 01-14-2019

[QUOTE=hitking;19429560]Yes sir, Nashville born and bred. Plant’s actually from Ashland City, which is right outside of Nashville. But I’ll take it. Don’t have too many world class fighters around here.[/QUOTE] Hey, fellow Tennessean. I'm in Jackson. Yeah, I'm glad Caleb…

Comment by hitking on 01-13-2019

[QUOTE=Koba-Grozny;19428767]You a Nashville dude, I'm taking it? Or you just like numbers?:lol1:[/QUOTE] Yes sir, Nashville born and bred. Plant’s actually from Ashland City, which is right outside of Nashville. But I’ll take it. Don’t have too many world class fighters…

Comment by Box-Aficionado on 01-13-2019


Comment by Vegemil on 01-13-2019

[QUOTE=Bigchip;19428905]Finally I found someone picking Uzcategui. Every video or website I go to has Plant.[/QUOTE] Every single oddsmaker on this planet has Uzcategui as the favorite. People bandwagon to Plant because he's part of Mayweather's club.

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