Fight fans jazzed about Caleb Plant‘s showing on Sunday, when he out-boxed the IBF 168 pound champ, Jose Uzcategui, had grand visions of what’s next for the Tennessee native.
Bring on Plant versus David Benavidez next, more than a few put forth on social media, as they raved about Plant’s effort. He grabbed a UD12 over the Venezuelan born Uzcategui, who makes Mexico home. He dropped the now ex champ twice and maintained a sturdy strategy and basis of tactics to grab the W.
So, what about it, we seeing the 26 year old Plant fight Benavidez next?
I touched base with someone in the know on the Benavidez side. (First things first, Benavidez has to get past J’Leon Love; they tango on March 16.) So, is Team Benavidez aiming to get back in the title thick of things by aiming for the 18-0 Plant if the 22 year old banger Benavidez defeats Love?
Sorry, sirs and ma’ams.
It would be much more likely that Benavidez, who held the WBC 168 pound crown but had it removed form his waist after testing positive for a banned stimulant, would go in another direction.
That would be fighting the winner of the Feb. 23 Anthony Dirrell vs Avni Yildrim fight. Dirrell, the 34 year old Michigan native who holds a 32-1-1 mark, wants to regain the WBC belt, which he called his from 2014 into 2015, when Badou Jack relieved him of that bauble. He’s won five straight since then. The Turk Yildrim is 27, and owns a 21-1 mark. His lone loss came in 2017, to Chris Eubank; he has won five straight, and in his latest outing bested 46 year old Dane Lolenga Mock last September.
PBC spokesman Tim Smith weighed in when I asked this: “Thoughts from PBC perspective on that win, the meaningfulness of it…and what’s next? Team Benavidez indicates they are looking at winner of Dirrell v Yildrim. So what’s a possible or likely path regarding next step for PLANT?”
Said Smith: “Can the man enjoy his victory before you want to see him against another killer? Let’s just say he has more options now with the title than he would have if he had lost.”
Plant himself made it pretty clear what he thought about a fight with Benavidez; a media member asked Plant after the win if he’d be keen to scrap with Benavidez next. The winner’s face, punctuated with a nasty gash over his right eye…
..that would need a bunch of stitches, hardened.
“Is he a world champ? Is he a world champion? Is he a world champ,” he said.
Plant also showed some of the fire that he’s needed to keep on keeping on, when he chided media for asking about who he’s fighting next.
He then finished up with a monologue which summed up his mindset: “I come from the very bottom, I showed the world that no matter where you from, no matter what you go through, no matter what you were born into, that you’re not bound to or shackled to that. That you can go through anything and come out the other side. I told you all that many times I’ve been defeated, that I’ve taken many defeats, but not once have I ever been defeated. No matter what comes my way, I come out the other side, I don’t fold, break or bend for anybody or anything!” He then broke down, when asked about Alia, but steadied himself, saying that he won this title for Alia. He then finished with a look forward, and a hint about the level of stubbornness he could be exhibiting as he defends the title: “Two kings can’t live under one roof, and I’m the king of the 168 pound division!”
For the record, other “kings” in contention: Callum Smith holds the WBA crown, and Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez the WBO version. In case you are curious about them, regarding their politics, Zurdo is part of the Top Rank stable, and Smith is with Eddie Hearns’ Matchroom.
Readers, weigh in…if you had your way, what would Plant pursue next?
Woods, a Brooklyn resident, was a staff writer at NY Newsday, before joining ESPN The Magazne (2003-2011). He edited TheSweetScience.com (2007-20015), publishes NYFights.com, calls fights for Facebook Fightnight Live and does the “Talkbox” podcast for Everlast.