Caleb Plant retained his IBF super middleweight title with a shutout win over former titlist Caleb Truax, keeping Plant’s path to a huge fight with Canelo Alvarez later this year clear for the time being.
Plant won on scores of 120-108 across the board. Bad Left Hook also scored the fight 120-108 on a pair of separate unofficial cards.
The 28-year-old Plant (21-0, 12 KO) had no real trouble with the 37-year-old Truax (31-5-2, 19 KO), largely overwhelming the veteran with his speed, particularly off his jab. Even what Plant thinks is a broken hand didn’t really factor into the fight or become seriously noticeable, and Truax simply didn’t have anything in his arsenal to trouble Plant, though he did get through with the occasional solid right hand.
“I kinda hurt my hand early in the fight, and I was maybe a little bit hesitant at times, but I still feel like I put on a great performance. I didn’t get touched, really,” Plant said.
The fight with WBC and WBA titleholder Alvarez would likely come late this year, sometime between September and December, as Canelo is already set to fight WBC mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim on Feb. 27, and has a deal reportedly in place to unify with WBO titleholder Billy Joe Saunders in early May.
But Canelo is the fight that Plant wants, obviously, and barring any significant damage to the hand, or Canelo losing between now and then, it seems likely to be next for the Tennessee native.
“That’s my goal. I want to become the first undisputed super middleweight champion of all time,” Plant said. “I feel like I’m the best super middleweight in the world. Whoever is in the way, you line ‘em up, I’ll knock ‘em down.”
Michael Coffie TKO-3 Darmani Rock
The 24-year-old Rock was once a top U.S. amateur heavyweight, had a bit of hype even though, in all sincerity, being a top U.S. amateur doesn’t always mean what it used to mean. He turned pro back in 2016 and really hasn’t done anything at all, and this has got to be a hugely disappointing result for him in what qualified as a pretty big step up against a 34-year-old ex-Marine who didn’t take up boxing until he was 29.
It’s not just that Coffie (12-0, 9 KO) is a sincerely huge human being with heavy power in his hands. Coffie was also rather handily out-boxing Rock (17-1, 12 KO) behind a jab, too. The fight was all Coffie for as long as it lasted.
Rock went down on a left hook in the third, and just barely beat referee Jack Reiss’ 10-count. Another left hook put him down again, Reiss counted to seven, and called it off there, as Rock clearly was not getting up. Rock has a build that — and I’m not trying to be overly critical or an asshole about this — gives the impression that he’s just not particularly dedicated to his craft. And this is a result that sort of suggests the same, in all honesty. It’s worth wondering just on the eye test and the way his career has progressed (or hasn’t, more realistically) just how much he really wants to fight as a pro.
“He has quick hands, we knew that from the beginning, but timing beats speed,” Coffie said after the fight. “He shuffles his feet, and when he shuffles his feet, he also drops his hand, they’re not in sync. So it was wait for him to shuffle his feet, then catch him with that left hook.”
Asked what he wants next, it’s clear Coffie is taking a reasonable approach, and looking to keep improving fight-by-fight to climb the ladder.
“Honestly, I’m trying to get whoever is above Darmani Rock, I want that person,” he said. “After that, I want somebody else who’s above him, then above him. Whoever’s gonna get me to that world title.”
Joey Spencer TKO-1 Isiah Seldon
This was a mess. Spencer (12-0, 9 KO) dropped Seldon (14-4-1, 5 KO) twice with right hands, and hard both times, the second getting him the stoppage. Between the knockdowns, the 32-year-old Seldon, son of retired heavyweight fighter Bruce Seldon, threw a series of blatant, ugly, and purposeful shots at the back of Spencer’s head.
Referee Jerry Cantu took two points from Seldon on the foul, not that it wound up mattering. When Cantu stopped the obvious mismatch after the second knockdown, Seldon went ballistic screaming and stomping around, until Cantu threatened to take his purse in the corner.
Seldon is really a club fighter at best, and has now lost three of five, all of them first round stoppages to actual prospects. Brian Kenny and Shawn Porter sort of debated Cantu taking two points instead of just one or whatever, but to me, Cantu would have had a perfectly fair argument for simply disqualifying Seldon.
It can’t be overstated that he very purposely, with clear intent, targeted the back of Spencer’s head unprotected in a vulnerable position, and wound up the right hands he threw. There is no way to watch that and say he wasn’t looking to do damage on a blatantly illegal attack, one that is sincerely dangerous even more than just the fact that boxing is inherently very dangerous. It was awful behavior, enough to make you wonder if there was some sort of legitimate beef between the two coming in. Look, I’ve seen Seldon fight before, and being honest the result is what I expected, first round and all. But he was severely emotional here.
Rances Barthelemy UD-10 All Rivera
A pretty easy win here for Barthelemy (28-1-1, 14 KO), who hadn’t fought since his historically awful bout with Robert Easter Jr in 2019. The 34-year-old Cuban has won world titles at 130 and 135, and now says he’s looking to get in with Errol Spence Jr or Terence Crawford at 147, though this was fought at what appears to be a 144-pound catch, and Barthelemy could probably make 140 if there was something there. There might not be, as Top Rank currently control all four major titles, though PBC do have secondary WBA titlist Mario Barrios.
Barthelemy is never exactly exciting, and wasn’t here, as he mostly cruised through the 10 rounds against the over-matched Rivera (21-5, 18 KO), a 27-year-old Filipino southpaw and former OPBF 140-pound champ, for what that’s worth.
This isn’t the sort of win that’s going to get Barthelemy a date with Spence, who is maybe targeting another Cuban in Yordenis Ugas, but Crawford? Hey, he’s got such limited options that PBC could be petty and offer him up to Top Rank. I don’t think that’s a fight Bob Arum’s going to pay for since it’s no more exciting or “legit” than other, cheaper fights, but who knows? It’s wild world.
Atif Oberlton TKO-3 Nathan Sharp
This was a pro debut for Oberlton, a 22-year-old light heavyweight from Philadelphia, who was a standout U.S. amateur and decided to go pro once the 2020 Olympics were postponed, which is looking like a really good choice as we’re likely headed toward an outright cancellation of the rescheduled 2021 Olympics.
Oberlton threw some nasty body shots in particular, doubling Sharp (4-3, 4 KO) over in the second and third rounds, though Sharp was tough and did not go down. The 30-year-old from California was stopped in the third, though, when he was basically a sitting duck and referee Sharon Sands made the very reasonable call to end what had been a complete mismatch. Oberlton, nicknamed “Lord Pretty Calvo,” is one to put on the prospect list at 175 for sure.
Brandyn Lynch D-8 Marcos Hernandez
The 29-year-old Lynch (10-1-1, 8 KO) was stepping up the competition big here. He’s Eddie Murphy’s nephew and also the grandson of a pro boxer, which was something to say at the top of the fight, and the Murphy part was repeated throughout the eight rounds.
I thought Lynch deserved the win here, honestly, I had it 79-73 for him, could have maybe had it 77-75 in his favor if I nicked a couple more to Hernandez (14-4-2, 3 KO) on activity, which is surely what two judges saw to give us the split draw result. One judge had it 78-74 Hernandez, which to me seems way off, one had it 77-75 Lynch, and the other was even at 76-76.
Hernandez, 27, is a solid, scrappy gatekeeper type, and he wound up keeping the gate here, returning after just over a month of following a loss to Alantez Fox on Dec. 26. But I really thought Lynch earned this one with sharper punches and superior accuracy. I might be wrong, honestly. I don’t think I’m infallible. The good news is I’ll never go back and double check. But I’ll say this, our pal Marcos Villegas had it even scoring for FOX, and Julian “J-Rock” Williams had it for Hernandez, so I might have just been off here.
If you’re wondering about the CompuBox numbers, they had Lynch landing 99 of 361 (27%) total, and 49 of 159 (31%) of his power punches, with Hernandez at 75 of 525 (14%) overall and 56 of 260 (22%) power punches. So Hernandez did have a slight edge on power shots, but he was out-jabbed 50-19, and Lynch landed 17 body shots to Hernandez’s six.