Caleb Plant seemed to arrive at the official announcement press conference with the best of intentions.
That didn’t prevent the former IBF super middleweight titlist from taking a parting shot at David Benavidez while the two were on stage Thursday afternoon at L.A. Live to promote their upcoming grudge match.
“March 25, I'm gonna be there,” Plant vowed. “I'm gonna be in shape. I'm gonna be on weight. I'm not gonna be on cocaine and I'mma whoop his ass.”
The fighting words were in references to the causes behind Benavidez (26-0, 23KOs) twice losing the WBC super middleweight title out of the ring. They also came after the second time the two had to be separated on stage to otherwise formally announce their March 25 Showtime Pay-Per-View main event from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Plant (22-1, 13KOs) began the afternoon respectful before responding to claims by Jose Benavidez Sr., David’s father and head trainer who insisted that their adversary was forced into taking the fight. The Benavidez side has been vocal in fielding the list of demands made by Plant to finalize their scheduled twelve-round fight for Benavidez’s interim WBC super middleweight title.
“You got pressured,” insisted the elder Benavidez. “That’s why you came at us with all those demands. You got fuckin’ pressured. What did you ask for? A 22-foot boxing ring, Rival gloves, blue corner, you wanted to come out [second]. Who’s the champion? David is. You wanted to come out as the champion. Bitch.”
Plant refuted that claim, in fact pointing to his own knockout win over Dirrell last October 15, which served as a WBC title eliminator for the right to next challenge Benavidez.
“Going into the Dirrell fight, I knew the plan. I knew David would be next,” noted Plant. “So, the narrative of me being pressured, or cornered into the fight is not the case. I knew going in, the winner would be fighting for the interim belt. I’m exactly where I want to be. In 2017 when David beat Ronald Gavril, I was ranked at the bottom of the stairs saying, ‘Let’s make it happen.’ In 2019, I won a world title. In 2020, me and my team reached out to Sampson. I said, ‘Hey, would you guys like to make something happen?’ He said, no, they wanted that fight to marinate, stay on the shelf, let it build for a minute. I don’t know his intentions. I went on to fight my mandatories.
“Then he loses his belt for a second time and then they’re like ‘Let’s fight.’ Well, I got the Canelo fight on the line, why would I toss that away to fight you? I don’t know if you’re gonna show up on weight, I don’t know what’s gonna happen. So why would I throw away the chance to fight for the undisputed, fight a future Hall of famer in one of the biggest fights. That’s why we’re in this sport, to make the biggest fights happen. That’s the fight I took.”
Benavidez tested positive for cocaine during random drug testing in September 2017, which ended his first title reign. He regained the belt in a September 2019 ninth-round stoppage of Anthony Dirrell, only for his second reign to end at the scale when he missed weight for an August 2020 clash with Alexis Angulo.
Plant held the IBF title from January 2019 through his November 2021 knockout loss to Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in their undisputed championship. The Ashland City, Tennessee native—now based out of Las Vegas—rebounded in a big way with a highlight reel knockout of Dirrell to position himself for perhaps the sport’s very best grudge match.
Contrary to the belief by Team Benavidez that he’s already looking for the exit, Plant did his best to alleviate the other side of any such concern.
“March 25, you ain’t gotta worry about me pulling out,” insisted Plant. “Imma show up. When I show up, I’ll show up on weight and I won’t test positive for cocaine, either. Don’t worry about me.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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