Caleb Plant wasn’t as swayed by Canelo Alvarez’s triumphant performance against Callum Smith as many fans and fighters.
The unbeaten IBF super middleweight champion commended the Mexican superstar for thoroughly out-pointing a previously undefeated, legitimate super middleweight world champion. Plant was underwhelmed by Smith’s performance, though, in their 12-round, 168-pound title fight December 19 at Alamodome in San Antonio.
Alvarez (54-1-2, 36 KOs) beat the much taller, longer Smith (27-1, 19 KOs) by huge margins on all three scorecards (119-109, 119-109, 117-111), yet Plant didn’t sense Smith was completely committed to pulling off an upset against the favored four-division champion. Plant, a potential opponent for Alvarez in 2021, assessed Alvarez’s victory over Smith during an appearance Monday on “The Ak & Barak Show,” which streams daily on DAZN and SiriusXM.
“I wasn’t overly impressed,” Plant told co-hosts Barak Bess and Akin Reyes. “I didn’t really see him do something where I was like, ‘Wow! This is, you know, something I haven’t seen or new elements to his game.’ … And for the most part, too, I just felt like Callum went from rope to rope, from corner to corner. You know, you can call it commendable that he got in there and fought him. But at no point did he really fight Canelo. He got in there and the bell rang, and he stayed alive for 12 rounds. But I don’t feel like he ever really put it all out there and really went out on his shield.”
Plant dismissed the theory of Smith potentially taking a punishing punch early in their bout that made him reluctant to engage Alvarez thereafter.
“I mean, everybody gets hit with body shots,” Plant said. “At this level, everybody gets hit with a good shot at some point, you know, within 12 rounds, a shot that, you know, you may feel or a body shot. That doesn’t mean that you get to fold. That doesn’t mean that you just go from rope to rope and corner to corner and not even, you know, go out on your shield. You know, when I fought Jose Uzcategui, nobody wanted to fight him. At some point in that 12 rounds, he caught me with a nice shot.
“But you never seen me fold and go from rope to rope, and just not even try and fight back and, you know, try to win. And same thing with him. I sent him down twice. I caught him with body shots. I caught him with a whole lotta sh-t. That doesn’t mean that you just get to go from rope to rope and give up, though. And that’s kind of what I feel like [Smith] did.”
Plant revealed that his manager, Luis De Cubas Jr., didn’t consider five weeks’ notice enough time for Plant to properly prepare to face Alvarez on December 19. The Ashland City, Tennessee, native acknowledged that Smith accepting that difficult fight on such short notice might’ve impacted his performance.
The 28-year-old Plant suspects Smith wouldn’t have beaten Alvarez even with a full training camp. Smith’s subpar performance in a controversial win against John Ryder a year earlier taught Plant that Smith would have difficulty dealing with an opponent who walked him down.
“At the end of the day, you know, not to put anyone down, but Callum Smith, he’s kind of an A-B-C, 1-2-3 fighter,” Plant said. “You know, he kinda stands straight up, not too many dimensions to his game. I have seen him be able to make a couple of adjustments in fights. But, you know, just stylistically, and with the experience that Canelo has and the style that Callum has, I feel like it probably wouldn’t have worked out either way. But, you know, when you give yourself four weeks to train on top of that, you know, it’s [even harder].”
Plant (20-0, 12 KOs) is scheduled to defend his title January 30, when he’ll face former IBF champ Caleb Truax (31-4-2, 19 KOs, 1 NC) in a FOX main event at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall in Los Angeles.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.