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Jose Uzcategui wants IBF title rematch with Caleb Plant after Saturday fight

The former IBF 168-pound titleholder wants to get the belt back, but Lionell Thompson stands in his way on Saturday.

Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Former IBF super middleweight titleholder Jose Uzcategui is itching for a rematch with the man who beat him in January of this year, Caleb Plant, but first he has to take care of business this Saturday night on Showtime, where he’ll face veteran Lionell Thompson in the opening bout of a tripleheader from Atlanta.

Uzcategui (29-3, 24 KO) won the interim IBF belt in 2018 with an eight-round stoppage of Andre Dirrell, 10 months after their controversial first fight, in which Uzcategui was disqualified then sucker-punched after the fight by a goofball from Dirrell’s team who doesn’t really deserve to be named.

The now 29-year-old Uzcategui, originally from Venezuela and now based in Mexico, never did make a successful title defense. He did a catchweight bout in Sept. 2018 with Ezequiel Maderna, winning a shutout decision, before losing the strap to Plant on the cards on Jan. 13 in Los Angeles.

He’s hoping an impressive showing on Saturday will get him another shot.

“After I knock out Lionell Thompson, we’ll see what Caleb Plant has to say after that,” Uzcategui stated at Thursday’s press conference. “The only reason Plant is champion is because I messed up. When I’m at my best, I’m the best super middleweight on the planet. Everyone will see on Saturday.”

Thompson (21-5, 12 KO) is a 34-year-old fighter originally from Buffalo, and has campaigned as a light heavyweight his entire career, dating back to 2009. He’s never weighed in below 173 pounds as a pro, and given the fact he’s not a young man in this game, that has to be a concern, both for his overall conditioning and his ability to take a punch.

“I believe that moving down in weight, and doing it right with a nutritionist, will be better for me,” Thompson said. “Anyone can hurt you. Everyone says that he can punch, but anyone who hits you right can hurt you.”

Thompson hast mostly been something of a trial horse in his career, never really a top contender or anything. He’s had losses to Nicholson Poulard, Sergey Kovalev, Radivoje Kalajdzic, Paul Parker, and Edwin Rodriguez. In his last two outings, he’s scored victories over journeymen Derrick Findley and Scott Sigmon.

He believes his all-around boxing skills can lead him to what would be, by a good bit, a career-best victory.

“I’m focused on being perfect. I don’t plan on making any mistakes,” he said. “I know what I can do. Anyone who has shared the ring with me will say I’m one of the most skillful fighters out there. Floyd Mayweather even said it.

“I know Uzcategui is tough, but I’m not worried because I’m bringing my best. I believe I’ll be victorious. I respect him and he’s definitely a force to be reckoned with, but I just believe in myself.”

Uzcategui is hoping that Thompson will truly be confident enough to taste his power.

“I don’t talk much, but since he says I only have power, we’ll see on Saturday,” he said. “Don’t talk today and then run around the ring.”

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