Highly-talented Tennessean Caleb Plant kicks off his 2021 calendar with a mandatory defence of his IBF super-middleweight title against Caleb Truax this weekend, and should he emerge victorious then all roads seemingly lead to a blockbuster unification bout with WBC, WBA (Super) and Ring magazine title holder Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
The undefeated Plant, 20-0 (12), is one of the sport’s rising stars and 2021 is looking like the year that the 28-year-old breaks through into the mainstream. With Canelo set to face Avni Yildirim in a mandatory defence on 27 February and fight again against WBO-holder Billy Joe Saunders on Cinco De Mayo in May, there’s a real possibility that the winner of Plant vs Canelo, likely in the latter half of the year, will be for the chance to become the undisputed champion.
Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves though - boxing is unpredictable as it is, let alone during a pandemic. Plant, for example, has made it clear in the build-up to Truax that he’s not thinking past the man who’ll stand in front of him at the Shrine Exposition Center in Los Angeles on Saturday night.
Plant is the heavy betting favourite (some bookmakers have him as low as 1/50 for the win) but fellow American Truax, who famously beat James DeGale in one of the upsets of 2017, is a wily veteran of the sport. And while he’s on the downward slide of his 14-year professional career, the 37-year-old knows that this is probably his last shot at world honours. The younger Caleb, meanwhile, will have to be mindful of complacency - one wrong move could see arguably the biggest fight outside of Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury evaporate.
The next year has the potential to be a landmark one in the world of boxing, and the result of this weekend’s battle between two Calebs will have a big bearing on just how good it could be. Canelo and Plant’s paths look destined to intertwine at some point, just cross your fingers and pray to the fight gods that nothing gets in the way of it in 2021.