By: Hans Themistode
Derrick James has nothing but the utmost respect for Canelo Alvarez. The long-time trainer has witnessed firsthand on several occasions the sort of damage the Mexican product can dish out in the ring.
However, with the unified super middleweight champion merely days away from attempting to become the division’s first undisputed titlist when he takes on Caleb Plant, James is struggling to make a prediction. On paper, Alvarez would appear to have the edge. Having won world titles across four separate weight classes, Alvarez is etched on to most pound-for-pound lists as its top man.
Regardless of his lofty placement, James isn’t counting Plant out. Not only does James believe Plant can go toe to toe with Alvarez in the skills department but the former Trainer of the Year runner-up is also convinced that Plant won’t be unnerved.
“I think Caleb Plant won’t be afraid of him for sure,” said James during an interview with Little Giant Boxing. “He will not be afraid of him. Not saying all the other guys were but I think they couldn’t match his skills and abilities. I think Plant might be able to match that.”
Currently, James and his opinion are in the minority as Alvarez is pegged as a significant favorite. Not only is the Mexican star expected to win but a feeling of apprehension has swept over the event as well. While Plant has worn his IBF world title for well over two years, the 29-year-old has yet to face someone the caliber of Alvarez.
Having faced the likes of Mike Lee, Vincent Feigenbutz, and most recently, Caleb Truax – Plant is mostly viewed as lacking experience against top-tier competition. In the case of Alvarez, the now 31-year-old has built his name and reputation off the backs of several great fighters.
Since losing a majority decision to Floyd Mayweather almost a decade ago, Alvarez has gone on to beat the likes of Sergey Kovalev, Daniel Jacobs, and Gennadiy Golovkin. Most recently, Alvarez was last seen in the ring putting an end to the career of former multiple division titlist, Billy Joe Saunders.
After spending years agitating Alvarez, the two officially squared off at AT&T Stadium in Arlington Texas, on May 8th, earlier this year. Saunders boxed well at the start, tagging Alvarez with several hard shots while boxing on the outside. Nevertheless, the British native would eventually succumb to an eighth-round stoppage defeat, thanks to Alvarez crushing his right eye socket and orbital bone.
With Alvarez and Plant coming to blows during their California press conference, Alvarez has promised to end their showdown in similar fashion. In spite of those threats, James has carefully juxtaposed the skillset of both men. After doing so, he expects a competitive and close matchup.
“Canelo is a phenomenal fighter. Caleb Plant is a very skilled, very athletic, very technical fighter so it should be a pretty good fight.”
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