By: Hector Franco
Boxing’s most prevalent superstar and pound-for-pound king Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (56-1-2, 38 KOs) steps back in the ring this Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. On this occasion, he will be taking on Nashville, Tennessee’s Caleb Plant (21-0, 12 KOs), for the undisputed super middleweight championship.
Plant has held the IBF super-middleweight title since January 2019 and made three defenses of his championship.
For Alvarez, who holds the remaining titles in the division, including the WBC, WBA, and WBO titles, he will be fighting for the fifth time at super middleweight if you don’t count his 164.5 catchweight match with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in 2017.
Alvarez, who has been headlining PPVs for close to a decade, now may feel like the bout with Plant is another day at the office. While the undisputed super-middleweight crown will be on the line, the Mexican superstar has faced more accomplished competition multiple times throughout his now 16-year career.
At almost 60 professional fights with titles in four-weight classes at just 31-years old, Alvarez is already a lock for the boxing Hall-of-Fame. He is now competing against himself and history.
“The goal is to be an all-time great,” said Alvarez at the final press conference. “I’m so proud of the journey I’ve taken to achieve that. I’m not going to stop until I’ve tried my best to reach that goal. Only one thing is going through my mind, and that’s winning. Everything else is outside of my control.
“I only care about what’s going to happen inside of the ring Saturday night.”
When a fighter is the most significant moneymaker in the sport, he has the leverage to fight whom he chooses and when he chooses with a plethora of options. There have been numerous examples of the pound-for-pound crown being challenged by fighters who were massive underdogs.
Over the last two decades, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao were the main headlining attractions in boxing, each taking on formidable opponents that very few thought had a realistic chance of winning.
“I’ve been the underdog before,” said Plant. It’s a place I like to be. I like people rooting against me. It gives me extra motivation, but when you’re fighting for undisputed status, you don’t need much more motivation than that.”
The question will be, what kind of opponent will Plant be?
Will he be similar to fighters like Robert Guerrero and Andre Berto, who proved the odds correct to be the underdogs they were by putting in tepid efforts against Floyd Mayweather?
Alternatively, will Plant be more like an Antonio Tarver who pushed Roy Jones Jr. to the brink in 2003 or Marcos Maidana putting in such a valiant effort against Mayweather that an immediate rematch was made?
Since winning a closely contested rematch over Gennadiy Golovkin in 2018, Alvarez has elevated his game putting on one dominant performance after the other. However, he has yet to step in the ring again with someone on Golovkin’s level since facing the Kazakhstani puncher.
While Alvarez has been stellar as of late, it doesn’t mean he hasn’t been tested in the past in fights that could have been scored against him.
“He looked beatable against Lara,” said Plant on the PBC podcast. “He got schooled by Floyd Mayweather. He lost the first fight Triple G, and it was a really close fight the second time. It was a really close fight with him and Kovalev as well.”
Plant’s resume is lacking compared to Alvarez and numerous of his opponents. Still, he has the mentality and skillset to make a fight with the four-division champion more than competitive.
Boxing history has shown many challengers for the crown at boxing’s best, but few have been able to take the opportunity to grab the proverbial brass ring to make the crown their own.
Moving up your level of competition can be akin to climbing a mountain. Alvarez currently sits on top of that mountain.
When Plant takes his shot at the crown, will he be able to breathe at the mountaintop? Or will the air prove to be too thin?
“People are going to say what they’re going to say,” said Plant. But I get the final say, and I can’t wait to prove everything in the ring.”
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