By Lem Satterfield
IBF champion Jose Uzecategui doesn’t mince words regarding his plans for unbeaten 168-pound mandatory challenger Caleb Plant when they clash on January 13 at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on FOX (8 p.m. PT/ 5 p.m. PT).
Unimpressed after watching the 26-year-old Plant (17-0, 10 KOs) overcome title challenger Rogelio “Porky” Medina by unanimous decision in February, the 27-year-old Uzecategui (28-2, 23 KOs) looks to treat “Sweet Hands” to “the beating of his life,”
The Venezuelan-born Uzecategui’s coming off September’s non-title, 172 ½-pound unanimous decision over Ezequiel Osvaldo Maderna as a follow-up to a title-winning ninth-round stoppage of Andre Dirrell in a March rematch of Dirrell’s disqualification victory from May 2017.
“Caleb Plant earned this shot by beating a Porky Medina that no one cares about anymore, and now he’s getting into the ring with me, and I’m for real. Caleb’s done a lot of trash talking, and I’ve taken it personally,” said Uzecategui.
“I truly do not like this guy, but now, we’ll see if he can back it up. I don’t want to simply stop him or knock him out. That would be too easy. I am planning to make it a long night for Caleb Plant. I want to give Caleb Plant the beating of his life throughout the whole fight.”
Plant has plenty to say in response, but intends to allow his fists do the talking, despite having nursed an injury to his left hand that occurred in sparring.
“I’ve had surgery on my hand, but I don’t want no tune-up fight or no soft-touches. They say this guy [Uzecategui] is the boogy man of the division? Well, we’re gonna find out what he is, and I guarantee you he’s gonna find out who I am,” said Plant.
“He says I’m going to be the easiest win of his career, well let’s put some money on that, because I don’t believe that. My whole career I’ve been the A-side, and some people think the A-side has the stigma of those who have always had it easy, and were given things, and who have taken the easy route.”
Plant endured an impoverished childhood in Ashland City, Tennessee. He and his sister, Madeline, and father, Richie, slept in a mobile home without air conditioning in the summer and with faulty heating in the winter.
Nine-year-old Plant was introduced to boxing by Richie, a former kickboxer, in a struggling gym. Plant was given the nickname
“Sweet Hands” from admiring amateur teammates. He earned a 2011 National Golden Gloves championship at 178 pounds and was an alternate at 165 pounds for the 2012 U.S. Olympic team in London.
A 2011 graduate of Sycamore High School in Pleasant View, Tennessee, Plant’s pro debut was a 47-second knockout of Travis Davidson on May 10, 2014. He was 5-0 with four knockouts when he was rocked the death of his 19-month-old daughter, Alia, from a rare medical condition on Jan. 29, 2015.
“My boxing record may be undefeated, but if these guys knew how many losses I took to get here, you’d think differently,” said Plant, whose daughter, Alia, is memorialized by a tattoo on his left arm. “I’m back on the B-side where I belong. So if he thinks I’m gonna be his easiest win, well, we’ll see about that.”