The smooth operator from The Music City is on the verge of becoming the face of boxing as he prepares to face modern legend Canelo Álvarez Saturday night on SHOWTIME pay-per-view.
Caleb “Sweethands” Plant has accomplished a great deal in only 21 fights.
The gifted boxer from Tennessee has become one of the biggest stars in the United States, capturing the IBF World Super Middleweight title and defending it three times in front of millions of television viewers.
Plant’s biggest opportunity will come this Saturday, November 6, when he takes on unified WBA/WBC/WBO World Super Middleweight Champion and pound-for-pound king Canelo Álvarez to crown the first ever undisputed 168-pound world champion.
The blockbuster Premier Boxing Champions event headlines a stacked card from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, live on SHOWTIME Pay-Per-View (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
How did Plant get to the pinnacle of the sport in such short order?
Well, here are the five performances that lifted him from hot prospect one day to one of the sport’s major players seemingly the next.
5 MIKE LEE
Date: July 20, 2019
Location: MGM Grand, Las Vegas
At stake: Plant’s IBF World Super Middleweight title (first defense)
Records at the time: Plant 18-0 (10 KOs); Lee 21-0 (11 KOs)
Result: Plant TKO 3
Significance: Those who had followed the career of Mike Lee knew the Notre Dame graduate wasn’t a special boxer. He was tough, though. And it was clear from his perfect record at the time that he found ways to win fights. The problem for him? Resilience and determination only goes so far against an elite talent like Plant. The new champion, eager to prove that his title-winning victory over Uzcategui was no fluke, used Lee in a cruel manner to make his point. Plant put his overwhelmed foe down once in Round 1 and three times in round three, prompting merciful referee Robert Byrd to step in and prevent Lee from taking further punishment. This was Plant at his most dominating.
4 VINCENT FEIGENBUTZ
Date: Feb. 15, 2020
Location: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tennessee
At stake: Plant’s IBF World Super Middleweight title (second defense)
Records at the time: Plant 19-0 (11); Feigenbutz (31-2, 28 KOs)
Result: Plant TKO 10
Significance: Feigenbutz wasn’t well known in the United States but was a top European fighter and the mandatory challenger to the IBF title when he tangled with Plant. However, Plant demonstrated that a common mantra in boxing – there are levels in this sport – has merit, particularly when the better man is fighting in front of his hometown fans for the first time. An inspired Plant outclassed Feigenbutz in every way, outboxing, outworking and ultimately stopping the game, but overmatched German. And what about Feigenbutz’s power? After all, 28 of his 31 victories had come by knockout. He didn’t come close to denting Plant, who also showed on this night that he could take a punch. He was as sharp as ever.
3 ROGELIO MEDINA
Date: Feb. 17, 2018
Location: Don Haskins Center, El Paso, Texas
At stake: IBF super middleweight world title eliminator
Records at the time: Plant 16-0 (10 KOs); Medina 38-8 (32 KOs)
Result: Plant UD (120-108, 119-109 and 117-111)
Significance: “Porky” Medina was seen as a legitimate test for Plant, who was taking part in his first scheduled 12-round fight. The Mexican had fallen short against elite-level opposition – except for a stunning third-round knockout of J’Leon Love – but he was a fearless volume puncher who had the ability to hurt his opponents, as his 32 knockouts at the time indicated. To say Plant passed the best is an understatement. He defused with his boxing skills and athleticism everything Medina trying to do, leaving the underdog on the wrong end of a one-sided decision. And he did it even though Median came in overweight. Plant’s performance left no doubt that a legitimate threat to any 168-pounder had arrived on the scene.
2 CALEB TRUAX
Date: Jan. 30, 2021
Location: Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall, Los Angeles
At stake: Plant’s IBF World Super Middleweight title (third defense)
Records at the time: Plant 20-0 (12 KOs); Truax 31-4-2 (19 KOs)
Result: Plant UD (120-108, 120-108 and 120-108)
Significance: The fight against Truax was his most difficult title defense, at least on paper. The Minnesotan had outpointed 2008 Olympic gold medalist James DeGale in a major upset to win the IBF 168-pound belt in December 2017 and put himself on the boxing map. He then gave a solid performance in defeat in the rematch four months later, which bolstered his reputation as one of the top fighters in the division. Indeed, Plant was favored to win but Truax had the track record of someone who couldn’t be overlooked. Then Plant showed the world how good he is, befuddling the former champ with his far superior skills and speed to earn a shutout decision that raised his level of respect to unprecedented heights.
1 Jose Uzcategui
Date: Jan. 13, 2019
Location: Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles
At stake: Uzcategui’s IBF World Super Middleweight title
Records at the time: Plant 17-0 (10); Uzcategui 28-2 (23 KOs)
Result: Plant UD
Significance: The oddsmakers and a lot of observers were enamored with Uzcategui, who was as much as a 3-1 favorite going into this fight. The rugged, hard-punching Venezuelan had stopped capable Andre Dirrell in their rematch in March 2018 to win the “interim” IBF title and was later elevated to full champion. He was hot. Meanwhile, Plant was still a question mark. He appeared to have unusual skills, hone during his successful amateur career, but he had yet to prove it on the highest level. And then he did. Plant, the better boxer, put Uzcategui down in the second round and again in the fourth en route to winning a clear decision and the championship in what is the defining fight of his career so far. Plant had realized a dream. And he was only getting started.
For a closer look at Caleb Plant, check out his fighter page.