Homecomings can be a distraction, but IBF World Super Middleweight Champion has other plans as he returns home to Tennessee to face hard-hitting Vincent Feigenbutz Saturday night on FOX.
Home is where the heart is, but in boxing it's also where the most danger lies. Homecomings in boxing can be fraught with distraction and extreme pressure. Rising star and undefeated IBF World Super Middleweight Champion Caleb "Sweethands" Plant will have to navigate through this friendly-but-problematic homefield advantage in his upcoming title defense against heavy-handed German, Vincent Feigenbutz.
The bout goes down this Saturday, February 15, live from Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee atop a Fox and Fox Deportes primetime Fox PBC Fight Night card (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m.), as Plant (19-0, 11 KOs) makes the second defense of his title in a homecoming bout against mandatory challenger Feigenbutz (31-2, 28 KOs).
From extreme poverty to the horror of dealing with the death of his beautiful 19-month-old daughter, life has conspired to pull Caleb Plant away from his dreams, to stop him from becoming who he always thought he’d become. Even after beating tough veteran Jose Uzcategui for the world title, he had to deal with the tragedy of losing his mother.
Through it all, though, Plant has held firm in his self-belief and focus. He’s made his way through tough times and staked his claim to a spot on the world stage as a world champion.
Now, he makes his hometown return, fighting there for the first time as a professional, bringing home the belt as proof that he has, indeed, won at the game of life.
Vincent Feigenbutz was born into a family of athletes in Karlsruhe, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany and was headed towards a career in soccer until falling in love with boxing as a teenager.
Showing a great aptitude for the sport and impressive one-punch knockout power, Feigenbutz, who has no amateur experience, accomplished a lot in a short period of time. In 2015, at the age of 20, he became interim WBA super middleweight champ and, when elevated to full champ status by the WBA, became the youngest world champion in German boxing history. Despite a short title reign, the "KO King" would come back with 10 straight wins (nine within the distance). Now, the 24-year-old wants to punch his way back to the world stage by winning a second world title.
Plant will be making the second defense of his IBF super middleweight title.
Feigenbutz aims to join the legendary Max Schmeling as one of two German fighters to win a world title on American soil.
Plant is a boxer by demeanor and design. He likes to pick and prod with his punches, shifting angles to land scoring shots and throw opponents off-kilter. Exhibiting good balance and fluidity to go along with a high boxing IQ, the 27-year-old is quickly establishing himself as one of the better boxing stylists in the business.
"Sweethands" has an underrated left hook-- one which can be used as a counter, a lead, or as a sharp check hook against aggressive, incoming opposition. He puts combinations together well and uses a sharp jab to both establish distance and create further offensive opportunities.
Feigenbutz is a physically strong come-forward battler whose entire style is built around finding a home for his powerful, fight-ending right hand. He steadfastly works behind a jab that is sometimes solid, but occasionally little more than a push. Despite being somewhat limited in what he can do, his 90% knockout rate stands as a testament to his efficiency as a KO artist.
Defensively, Feigenbutz has some liabilities and can be touched. However, the old axiom of offense being the best defense has worked for him thus far.
“ [Feigenbutz] is pretty fast, pretty explosive, but he's never fought nobody like me. ” Undefeated IBF World Super Middleweight Champion - Caleb Plant
Caleb Plant, via FightHype.com
"He's [Feigenbutz] young, he's strong. I know he's worked his whole life for this moment. It's a big opportunity for him. He's got a lot of knockouts. He's got a big record, a lot of experience. I've seen some of his stuff. He is pretty fast, pretty explosive, but he's never fought nobody like me. I'm going to show there's levels to this. This is something I've been doing my whole life, at a very high level, and when that bell rings, I'm going to separate myself."
"It has always been my goal to have a big fight like this in the U.S. I am not going there to lose. I am coming over to become only the second German boxer, after the legendary Max Schmeling, to win the world title in the U.S. and bring the belt back home to Germany. I hope everyone in my home country will have my back and support me on this journey. For me, Plant is the strongest of all super middleweight world champions. We are the underdog, but we won't make it...easy for Caleb...We know how difficult a fight on American soil is, so there is only one strategy: Get the knockout!"
Plant will look to do to Feigenbutz what he did to Mike Lee last July—pick him apart and quickly put him down. On paper, that looks like a reasonable expectation since both Lee and Saturday's German foe share bullish similarities. Feigenbutz, however, has correctly pointed out that his skills surpass those of the failed Chicago-area challenger. Although by no means a high-end stylist, he is clearly a more nuanced fighter than Lee and has had more high-level opposition in his short career.
Still, Plant's strategy against Feigenbutz will be the same as it was against Lee. The defending champ will try to use his boxing ability and high-IQ ring presence to avoid his challenger's rushes and use angles to pull him into uncomfortable positions where he can be countered. He'll also use his edge in hand speed to get off first, thereby nullifying any attempt from the challenger to launch his own offense.
Feigenbutz will have to keep all that from happening by forcing himself on Plant, earning his respect and bullying him into a face-to-face fight. If he can touch Plant, he has a chance of hurting him and walking away with the title—and the more he touches Plant, the greater his chance will be of doing just that.
Plant is usually cool and supremely focused , but the demands of fighting at home—where friends and family want face time and the pressure is there to put on a show—could, conceivably, pull him out of his game and create that split second of opportunity a power puncher like Feigenbutz needs to entirely flip the script of a fight.
Be prepared Saturday night for a boxing master class or a knock-down, drag-out war.
For a closer look at Plant vs Feigenbutz, check out our fight night page.