As many in the industry officially welcome Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez to the super middleweight division, Caleb Plant is already thinking of ways to put together a going away party.
Mexico’s Alvarez—who has won major titles in four weight divisions—has firmly planted his fighting flag at 168 pounds, which the pound-for-pound king insists is his optimal weight. It is also where he has designs on becoming the undisputed champion.
Such status will require his luring the likes of Plant and England’s Billy Joe Saunders, both of whom are unbeaten titlists in a division where Alvarez now boasts two major belts following a lopsided points win over Callum Smith on Dec. 19 in San Antonio. Both are also in the running to land a lucrative fight with Alvarez (54-1-2, 36KOs) at some point in 2021.
There are a number of reasons why Plant would love to secure such an opportunity, though mainly to eliminate the competition in his own quest for divisional supremacy.
“If you ask any world champion in any division, they’ll tell you it’s not big enough for both of us,” Plant told Fox Sports’ Brian Kenny during a pre-recorded interview which aired during the Dec. 26 edition of Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) on Fox. “So, it’s at the point where we’re going to have to get this figured out.”
There were preliminary talks of Plant (20-0, 12KOs) landing such an assignment, though never evolving beyond casual negotiations between Alvarez’s team and PBC more so in search of a multi-fight deal than one specific bout. Plant instead will be moved in a different direction, as he next defends his version of the crown versus former titlist Caleb Plant on Jan. 30 live on Fox.
As previously reported by BoxingScene.com’s Manouk Akopyan, Alvarez will most likely next face mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim on Feb. 27, likely in his hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico.
Wins by both could very easily put such talks back in play, this time evolving into real discussion rather than just gauging interest. It’s the second time this year where Plant (20-0, 12KOs)—who was born and raised in Ashland City, Tennessee but who now fights out of Las Vegas—saw his name attached to rumors of a showdown with Alvarez, both times which would have required his taking such a fight on short notice.
The first such talks came earlier in the year, when Alvarez was on the hunt for an opponent on a May weekend dedicated to the celebration of Cinco de Mayo. Plant dismissed the reality of such a fight happening in that short span, having never received a firm offer and also coming out of a lengthy training camp for an eventual 11th round stoppage of Germany’s Vincent Feigenbutz in a homecoming title defense this past February in Nashville, barely 30 minutes from his birth home.
Alvarez instead moved forward with plans to challenge for Saunders’ super middleweight title, only for their fight to get postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Alvarez’s aforementioned win over Smith marked his first of 2020, in part due to the global health crisis as well as a previous lawsuit with estranged promoter Golden Boy Promotions which resulted in his becoming a free agent.
Plant was left with just one fight on the year but strategically positioned to headline the 2021 series premiere of PBC on Fox next month. A win and escaping relatively unscathed will leave the unbeaten 28-year old in position to stay ready for a potential Cinco de Mayo weekend clash with Alvarez. If not by that time, then at some other point in the year ahead.
“I know it’s a fight that me and him both want,” insists Plant. “At some point, me and Canelo are gonna get in there and do our thing. I will have my hand raised when we fight, I can assure you that.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox