In February, Caleb Plant initially balked at the thought of fighting Canelo Alvarez in a quick turnaround fight in May because he felt that back-to-back camps would be physically taxing on his body.
Immediately after Plant’s TKO win over Vincent Feigenbutz on Feb. 15, preliminary discussions took place for the Tennessean to fight Alvarez on Cinco De Mayo weekend.
Shortly afterward, the Covid-19 pandemic put a halt to the sport altogether, and Alvarez never entered the ring with Billie Joe Saunders, the opponent and WBO super middleweight champion who was eventually matched for Alvarez instead of Plant.
Now that the sport is resuming back without fans, Plant (20-0, 12 KOs), the IBF super middleweight champion since January 2019, is calling for Team Alvarez to send a legitimate offer that’s not made in the immediate aftermath of one of his fights.
“A fight against Canelo Alvarez is something that I’m definitely interested in. It’s something that I want. That’s a fight that I’ve vocalized that I want,” Plant told BoxingScene.com in an interview.
“I know that I’m in the conversation. Oscar [De La Hoya] doesn’t pick who Canelo fights. It’s not even up to him. If so, why am I already in the conversations so quickly? They were just trying to rain on my parade [in February]. I’m a world class fighter. I’m following my own path. I don’t answer to them or any other champion at 168. I’ll get my chance. Me and Canelo will have our showdown. But they have to come correct otherwise you’re not going to fool me.”
Alvarez trainer Eddye Reynoso said in May that Plant was on the shortlist as a potential future for Alvarez. There are plans for Alvarez to fight in September and December this year.
The 27-year-old Plant said that world class fighters are not taking fights on short notice, especially after they were just in the ring, and he shouldn’t have to either.
“When I said I needed a break, it was not from the fight that I had. As everyone saw, I didn’t take a lot of punishment [versus Feigenbutz]. It’s the training camp. It’s the miles of running and wear and tear… If [Alvarez] is the world’s best fighter, then why wouldn’t I get the appropriate time to prepare for that?” said Plant.
“I know that Andy Ruiz [took a fight versus Anthony Joshua on short notice immediately after finishing a fight]. But he was not even a world champion at the time. He had not solidified himself as a world class fighter yet,” said Plant.
“I’ve solidified myself as a world class fighter, and I demand the kind of respect that a world class fighter gets. That’s not short notice fights. They say, ‘boxers used to fight much more frequently,’ but they also stopped doing that. If it was so great, why haven’t they kept that up? It’s an even playing field when all of the fighters are doing it.”
Initial discussions took place between Team Plant and Team Alvarez, but nothing was ever substantial.
“They never sent an offer. It was a secondary guy who reached out to our team, and it never even went past that. Their plan this whole time was to fight Billie Joe Saunders. It’s not like things were still up in the air. They knew what they were doing,” said Plant. “I don’t feel that I was a legitimate pick [in February]. They were not going to fight me May 2. They were just trying to rain on my parade.”
When De La Hoya learned of Plant’s comments in February, the founder of Golden Boy Promotions responded by saying that Plant passed on the opportunity of a lifetime.
“I don’t understand what [Plant’s] talking about, short notice,” De La Hoya said. “The truth of the matter is that if you’re gonna not want to fight Canelo and we’re considering you, then it’s over, that’s it. It’s over. You will not have that opportunity ever again, because there’s so many champions out there, in his weight division — actually he can choose from three weight divisions … So if he’s saying ‘I’ll wait my turn,’ no, we’re telling you to fight him now — it’s the opportunity of your life … This is boxing, anything can happen but opportunities don’t come often. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and he’s passing it up! I’m sorry.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist and member of the Boxing Writers Assn. of America since 2011. He has written for the likes of the LA Times, Guardian, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Men’s Health and NFL.com. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com.