By Jake Donovan

Caleb Plant has decided long ago that he has all the friends he needs in boxing—especially among those in or around the super middleweight division.

The unbeaten fighting pride of Ashland City, Tenn. remains mentally locked in for his July 20 showdown versus Chicago’s Mike Lee (21-0, 11KOs), which tops a Fox primetime telecast live from the MGM Grand in Plant’s adopted Las Vegas hometown. 

Much has been made of the trash talk leading into the fight, but the defending titlist insists that it isn’t personal, beyond his general disdain for any given opponent.

“I don’t like anyone who’s in the ring with me,” Plant (18-0, 10KOs) bluntly stated during a recent media conference call to discuss the upcoming bout. “I don’t want to be friends with them or get to know them.

“If I don’t win, I don’t get to go home because I won’t have a home.”

Plant claimed his portion of the super middleweight crown with a thorough 12-round win over Jose Uzcategui this past January in what is easily his best performance to date.

The title fight kicked off the rebranded version of Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on FS1, resonating with viewers in a big way as it remains the most watched boxing telecast to ever air on FS1. Plant took tremendous pride of chasing after the division’s perceived boogeyman in Uzcategui, having plenty to say before the fight just as he has heading into nearly every bout since turning pro in 2014.

His bout versus Lee—a first-time title challenger—serves as a lead-in to a Fox Sports Pay-Per-View headlined by Keith Thurman’s welterweight title defense versus legendary former eight-division champ Manny Pacquiao. All the respect he needs from anyone will come once the opening bell sounds.

“I’m not looking for validation from him and I sure as hell hope he’s not looking for it from me,” Plant notes. “I will say that I have the same respect for him that I’ve had for all of my other opponents and that’s none.

“I don’t care about who lives in the village, I’m coming to burn it down. He won’t make it to the final bell. Either he’ll bow out before the final bell, or I will make him bow out.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox