David Benavidez Vs Caleb Plant Is A Super Middleweight Scrap To Savour

Boxing gets a proper fight for a change
07:00, 25 Mar 2023

Caleb Plant and David Benavidez’s pay-per-view showdown on Saturday has everything you need from a major boxing attraction. There is a genuine bone of personal contention between the two elite super middlweights. They are each in possession of the tools needed to win, which is not always a given in the mismatch-heavy modern era. There is even a belt on the line, albeit the flimsy interim WBC super middleweight title is doing more harm than good to the sport.

What this fight really represents in championship terms is a final eliminator to face undisputed boss Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. Plant has plowed that lonely furrow before. He gave the Mexican some questions to answer before succumbing in 11 rounds back in November 2021. Benavidez meanwhile has yet to meet a man who can beat him. But circumstances have overcome him on occasion.


Benavidez is a two-time WBC super middleweight champion. His first reign ended when he tested positive for cocaine in 2018. The Mexican-American saw his second tenure come to an end when he lost the title on the scales, coming in overweight against Roamer Alexis Angulo in August 2020.

A fight with Plant seems like the perfect excuse for Benavidez to get serious. At the age of 26, any further setbacks will see ‘El Bandera Roja’ filed under “failed to live up to potential” in the boxing history books. Benavidez’s three-round decimation of former IBF middleweight champion David Lemieux last time out was encouraging. But Plant exists on a whole different plane, with a real argument to be made that he represents Benavidez’s toughest test.

Plant has been to the mountaintop before. A near-three year reign as IBF super middleweight champion showed the world the best of ‘Sweet Hands’. The tough, inconsistent Jose Uzcategui was beaten for the belt in 2019 before Plant racked up three defences, with two ending by stoppage. His 2021 decision victory over former James DeGale-conqueror Caleb Truax was the pick of the bunch, setting the table for a money-spinning shot at ‘Canelo’.

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The Tennessee native just happened to run into Alvarez in the form of his life. The peak of the Mexican’s considerable powers, the series of fights in which he unified the super middleweight titles were ‘Canelo’ at his remarkable best. The fact is, Plant actually did better than Alvarez’s other championship opponents during this period. While the flame-haired phenom ran roughshod over Britain’s Callum Smith and Billy Joe Saunders, Plant was made of sterner stuff. He may have been stopped, but he fought like a champion. 

That will have been little consolation for the proud Plant. He now steps in the ring against another fighter who is favoured to beat him. The boiling frustration of Plant spilled over into some unsavoury scenes in his last fight, when he mimed the digging of a grave while stricken opponent Anthony Dirrell received medical treatment. The antics obscured what had been a tremendous performance. Plant must keep his cool and lose the chip on his shoulder here.

If he doesn’t lose it, Benavidez might knock it off for him. It is impossible to know exactly where the 26-year-old’s ceiling is at this point, as no one has come close to finding it. While his outside-ring decisions have seen him come a cropper, nobody has looked like wreaking similar misfortune upon him in the ring. Plant looks well-equipped to do so, but you’d still have to lean towards the 26-0 favourite who boasts 23 knockout victories.

Don’t take your eyes off this one. This is a real pick’em fight, the likes of which we do not see often enough. The interim strap on the line means little, but the winner of this bout will have a path to the real title and a fight with ‘Canelo’ in their future. This is a real bout with real consequences. Enjoy every moment of it, they don’t come around very often.

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