Edwards, the new lead trainer of Caleb Plant, is as dedicated as his fighter -- and that's saying something as the former 168-pound champ prepares to battle two-time champ Anthony Dirrell Saturday night on FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View.
On a chilly weekday night back in February, Stephen “Breadman” Edwards somehow heard the ping on his phone sitting in the stands over the cacophony of bouncing basketballs in a grade school gym during one of his son’s practices. One look down at the screen and Edwards knew he had to take it. He gave his son a wave and slipped out a side door to the parking lot to take the call in his car.
On the other end was former IBF super middleweight world champion Caleb Plant with an interesting proposition: “Hey coach, I like what you do and what I see, what do you think about training me?”
Edwards wanted to make sure—this way “Sweethands” was good and Edwards himself was right about the move. So, what Breadman recommended was for the two of them to work together a few times to see if there was a chemistry between them.
Harmony came immediately.
We’ll see what that translates into this Saturday night, when Edwards will be the lead trainer in Plant’s corner as he faces two-time WBC super middleweight champion Anthony “The Dog” Dirrell in a highly anticipated, 168-pound, 12-round co-feature on the Deontay Wilder-Robert Helenius heavyweight showdown at Barclays Center, in Brooklyn, New York, on a FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View (9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT).
Plant (21-1, 12 KOs) is looking to rebound from his first pro loss, when he was stopped in the 11th round in November by Canelo Alvarez for the undisputed super middleweight world championship. Dirrell (34-2-2, 25 KOs) is looking to remain relevant at 168 pounds, since going 1-1-1 in his last three fights.
Edwards and Plant have known each other for years. The pair would bounce ideas and opinions off one another. They found they have much in common and at the root was their old-school love for boxing. They could sit and talk for hours.
“When Caleb called me in February, I told him, ‘Listen, champ, I know I come recommended, but I don’t want you to feel any pressure to hire me as your trainer if we don’t have the chemistry and I’m not the guy that you really want,’” Edwards recalled. “I wanted to work out with Caleb a few times so he could make the proper decision and not feel obligated to me. We were going to be cool regardless. I knew he just lost a high-profile fight, and he might have been feeling a lot of pressure to find another trainer.
“I wanted to soothe his mind that if he wanted to go in another direction, we were always going to be cool. I need to make this point, and please use this: Caleb never, ever blamed his old coach for the Canelo loss. He never said a bad word about his old coach. He never, ever blamed anyone for the loss. He gave credit to Canelo for winning. He said Canelo was a great fighter and he got caught. He took accountability and that really impressed me about Caleb.
“We know fighters don’t always do that after a big loss. Caleb never pointed any fingers at anyone but himself.”
“ I’m very, very proud of [Caleb Plant]. He’s given me everything I’ve asked for. ” Trainer - Stephen "Breadman" Edwards
Edwards travelled to Las Vegas to work with Plant in late April. In late June, Plant took the cross-country flight to Philadelphia to work with Edwards. “Sweethands” asked Edwards what he thought about his performance in the Alvarez fight and Breadman let him know—the good and the bad.
Edwards found the chemistry came quick.
Plant is the type of fighter Edwards likes.
“Caleb is athletic, he’s a lot more athletic than people realize,” Edwards said. “He has great natural talent, and he’s very skilled. He has a good jab. He listens really well, and he gets the most out of the workouts, because he works so hard. I don’t put up with guys who don’t work hard. The other thing I like is has a great support team around him. It makes a trainer’s job that much easier.
“There is always a rebuilding process when you’re coming off a loss. As far as the work Caleb is putting in and what I see, he’s in a great place. We’re still fine tuning. We’re still going through a process. Let’s see how things go Saturday night, but from everything I’ve seen in training camp, he’s doing just great. I’m very, very proud of him. He’s given me everything I’ve asked for.”
Plant said that Edwards is one of the few boxing minds he respects, alongside his father, Richie Plant. Sweethands had a feeling their interaction would be organic.
“Before he even trained me, Breadman was always someone I would go to ask certain questions or get their view or take on a fight,” Plant said. “I respected the way Breadman looked at boxing. We were always around each other. I like how he’s an easygoing guy, and there’s no BS when it comes to the gym. He likes to work the same way me and my dad work. His boxing IQ is high.”
Plant said he wanted to address his whole game. He stressed he needed a different set of eyes on him.
“I want to be the one who sets the tone, I know what I’m going in there to do and Dirrell is going to have to figure it out,” Plant said. “He’s going to have to find an answer. I gained experience from the Canelo fight. I came up short, but I came up short in the biggest fight that can be made in boxing, I can take that big-fight experience in these fights. I’m not going to sit around and feel sorry for myself.”
Plant is also entering a new world. His wife, Jordan, gave birth to their first child, a daughter, Charly. Sweethands has been in training camp through the birth.
“Boxing is a jealous sport, it’s not a sport where you have one foot in, one foot out,” Plant said. “I treat boxing like a person. You have to be solely focused on the fight.”
Plant’s life change hasn’t changed anything.
The day after Charly was born, Plant was back in the gym, greeted by his new trainer.
“That told me Caleb is really locked in. He hasn’t had the chance to really enjoy the baby yet,” Edwards said. “That will come after the fight. I knew from the first workout how dedicated he is. In the time we’ve been together, we haven’t had one bad day.”
- Plant vs Dirrell