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What Options Does Caleb Plant Have?

By: Hector Franco

The potential showdown for the undisputed super middleweight championship between IBF 168-pound titleholder Caleb Plant (21-0, 12 KOs) and Ring Magazine/WBA/WBC and WBO super middleweight champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (56-1-2, 38 KOs) looks to be dead in the water as of now. 

Plant, who was looking to participate in the most important fight of his career and stood to make a career-high payday of upwards of $10 million, decided to give his side of the story on social media as it seemed that most of the boxing world had deemed him guilty in being the reason the fight would not be taking place. 

“Canelo was offered the highest guarantee of his career,” Plant told ESPN’s, Mike Coppinger. “He was set to make $40 million-plus Mexican TV rights and his Hennessy Sponsorship. No Problem, let’s fight. We gave it to him. Then they wanted upside of gate and PPV revenue; no problem, let’s rumble.

“It was always agreed that it was a title unification; no rematch for either fighter. Towards the end of the negotiations, they asked for a rematch when they lose. No problem, you can have the rematch as well; I just wanna fight.

“I question whether legacy or money is their real motive. We’ve been waiting for him to get done with his wedding, shooting his TV show, his golf tournament, and now have tried to give him everything he wants and more to make this fight.”

Some fans and pundits have speculated that Plant’s promoters and management with Premier Boxing Champions wanted a deal in place to secure future bouts with Alvarez on their platforms such as FOX and Showtime. 

Regardless of the exact reasons the fight may not happen, it looks like Alvarez has already moved on and set his eyes on another opponent. 

“I think Dmitry Bivol’s the fight, “ stated Chairman of Matchroom Sport, Eddie Hearn to IFLTV. “He’s ready. We promote him, we’ve spoken to his manager, and co-promoter-they want the fight, and they’ve been looking for that breakout fight for some time. Really good fight. We’ll have to see.” 

Alvarez is currently the biggest name in boxing, and it is no surprise that he already has another fighter lined up to face him on the September 18th Mexican holiday. However, one wonders where does Plant go from here? 

Former two-time WBC super-middleweight champion David Benavidez (24-0, 21 KOs) has a fight scheduled later this month in his hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, against former super middleweight champion Jose Uzcategui. 

Benavidez and Plant both fight under the same promotional banner in Premier Boxing Champions. But would Benavidez be able to pull out of a fight in less than a month’s time to face another opponent? 

Looking at the current top ten at super middleweight, they aren’t any matchups that would garner Plant anywhere near the notoriety that a fight with Canelo would. 

Russia’s Fedor Chudinov (24-2-1, 16 KOs) is available at this time; however, he recently fought in early June, winning a unanimous decision to Ryno Liebenberg. Since losing to George Groves in May 2017, Chudinov has won 10 of his last 11 fights, with one draw to Isaac Chilemba earlier this year. 

Power punching phenom David Lemieux (43-4, 36 KOs) also last fought in early June; however, he only went two rounds in stopping David Zegarra. The Montreal native has won five fights in a row since dropping a lopsided decision to Billy Joe Saunders in 2017. 

Lemieux would pose a threat due to his punching power and could be a box office draw should a fight with Plant take place in Canada. 

The Ring Magazine’s top ten at super middleweight also includes the United Kingdom’s John Ryder (29-5, 16 KOs), who may best be known for going life and death with former super middleweight champion Callum Smith in November 2019 in a fight many observers felt he earned a decision victory. 

Unlike Lemieux and Chudinov, Ryder last fought in December 2020 and may be able to step in to face Plant if the IBF champion’s plan is still to fight in September. 

While all these names may present a solid challenge to Plant, the one name that would intrigue the boxing public the most is a fight with current WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo (32-0, 22 KOs). 

Charlo has stated in the past that he would be willing to move up to super-middleweight to challenge Alvarez for a potential showdown.

A fight between Charlo and Plant could benefit both fighters as Charlo would become a three-division champion with a victory over Plant and make a potential bout with Alvarez that much bigger for the undisputed super-middleweight crown. 

Despite moving up in weight, Charlo would represent the sternest challenge of Plant’s career. The issue for a fight with Plant and Charlo is that Charlo recently fought in June and was in a tougher than expected match with Juan Montiel. 

The options for Plant seem few and far between; however, the last thing Plant should do is wait on the sidelines and not step in the ring at all. At the very least, Plant could stay busy and take care of a mandatory to remain sharp for when his moment in a major fight finally arrives; he will be ready. 

“When I first set out on this journey and this mission, it wasn’t to just become world champion,” said Plant. “It was to become the first undisputed super-middleweight of all time.”

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