NASHVILLE—As well as he’d already figured out his latest title challenger long before the opening bell, Caleb Plant already saw the questions coming a mile away the moment his hand was raised in victory.
It’s precisely why the 27-year old fighting pride of Ashland City, Tennessee embraced the chatter ahead of his mandatory super middleweight title defense versus Germany’s Vincent Feigenbutz of a potential unification bout with David Benavidez (22-0, 19KOs) down the road. Not that there was cause to look beyond his first career homecoming fight, just that he knew the questions were as inevitable as his victory on Saturday evening.
“I want to unify, I’ve been saying it,” Plant (20-0, 1KOs) told BoxingScene,com after his 10th round stoppage of Vincent Feigenbutz at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. “I want that fight with David Benavidez.”
It’s a fight that has been targeted as far back as when the two shared a September 2017 card in Las Vegas, where Plant now resides. Plant scored a 10-round shutout of Andrew Hernandez to advance to 16-0, but was more interested in Benavidez’s vacant super middleweight title fight with Ronald Gavril. The unbeaten Phoenix, Arizona native claimed a split decision to win the belt, having to climb off the canvas to do so and then having to deal with a young rising contender immediately thereafter.
“When he won that fight against Ronald Gavril—and he got dropped by Ronald Gavril, too—but when he won that fight against Ronald Gavril, I was standing at the bottom of the stairs before he could even get (there),” Plant recalls. “I was standing there asking him, ‘When can we make this happen?’ I don’t see too many people standing there right after a fighter wins and asking when we’re gonna get it crackin’.
“I’ve been wanting that. I’ve been asking for that. I know we’re both young and that they’re trying to turn this into a mega fight, but I’m a fighter. There ain’t no sense in waiting. I say let’s get this crackin’.”
The goal was important enough to where Plant wanted to get his mandatory defense out of the way in order to open up his 2020 campaign. There hasn’t been quite as much cooperation in return, however.
Benavidez regained his title with a 9th round stoppage of Anthony Dirrell last September. The fight came with the promise that the winner would face mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim. The bout was targeted for a Pay-Per-View card in January to be headlined by unified welterweight titlist Errol Spence versus Danny Garcia, though with the card scrapped after Spence’s horrific car crash last October from which he is almost fully recovered.
Efforts to secure a new date for Benavidez’s mandatory defense have proven problematic. Turkey’s Yildirm suffered a minor injury earlier this year which has caused issue with a targeted early-to-mid springtime ring return for Benavidez, who will likely take a voluntary defense. From there will come the mandatory defense and—with any luck—a unification bout either by year’s end or more realistically at the start of 2021.
Whatever is figured out on Benavidez’s side, Plant promises to still have his title ready to defend—but not to the point where he grows stale waiting for the fight to materialize.
“I’m not waiting on anybody. That’s a fight I want, but I’m a world champion. I have my own path, my own career and I don’t have to sit and wait on the shelf for anyone. I’m the best super middleweight in the world.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox