Canelo Alvarez and Caleb Plant are just a day away from their big undisputed super middleweight championship fight on Showtime pay-per-view.
We already took a look at the main event and undercard with our preview, and now it’s time for us to throw it down: Who wins on Saturday? Does Canelo roll on as arguably the top pound-for-pound man in the sport, or can Caleb Plant shock the world with an upset?
Canelo Alvarez vs Caleb Plant
Scott Christ (53-19)
Canelo is promising “something special” for Plant on Saturday, after he feels that Plant “made it personal,” which led to September’s press conference scuffle and the organizers’ decision to keep the two fighters fully separate at Wednesday’s final presser. Canelo isn’t generally an overly aggressive fighter until he’s felt out that the opponent has either nothing to bother him (Avni Yildirim) or is running on fumes and whatever danger they presented has passed (Sergey Kovalev).
The huge issue for Plant on paper here is that he’s just not a puncher. He’ll argue if you say that, of course, and listen, I don’t want to be punched by Caleb Plant, and I’m not saying he doesn’t have enough pop to keep most opponents honest. But Canelo is hard to hurt even if you’re a puncher, as he’s a really sound defensive fighter, and even if you land clean to the head he’s got a big oak tree neck that seems to help him absorb power shots that do get through.
Without the power to deter Canelo, Plant has to sincerely and thoroughly out-box the Mexican superstar. I think Plant’s a really good boxer, but I don’t believe he’s quite good enough to do that. I think Caleb will win rounds, some early when Canelo is feeling it out, bujt I also think Canelo’s going to stop him when he turns up the heat later in the fight, having done progressive damage. I don’t think Alvarez plans to promise a stoppage and not deliver, but he won’t do it recklessly. Canelo TKO-11
Wil Esco (57-15)
I think there’s a lot to like about Caleb Plant in a general sort of way. Much like I’ve recently mentioned about Jamel Herring, Plant really brings a no-nonsense approach to the sport with a good workmanlike attitude and an even temperament. Inside the ring Plant has showcased a lot of good skills too, with speed and quickness to give most anyone problems in his division. That being said, I’m a big ‘keep the same energy’ kind of guy and I’ve been openly critical of Plant in the last couple of years for maintaining what I believe to be one of the weakest title reigns in recent memory. Plant’s win over Jose Uzcategui was a genuinely good win against a dangerous opponent at the time, but man, that was in January 2019 and he’s really milked that win for almost the past three years.
Since beating Uzcategui, Caleb Plant has gone on to defend his IBF title against “Subway” Mike Lee, an obscure Vincent Feigenbutz, and a shopworn Caleb Truax — all three appearing to be particularly contrived title defenses that never really sat too well with me. Now Plant is headed into his biggest career opportunity against the current pound-for-pound king in Canelo Alvarez. I genuinely think Plant is a good fighter, but forgive me for not believing Lee, Feigenbutz, and Truax are the type of opponents who prepare you to face someone like Canelo. Canelo is a massive step up in talent and ability from all those fighters, even a big step up from Uzcategui, and I think Plant will find that things are just different when standing in front of a fighter like this. I’ve got Plant giving Canelo some trouble early with his movement, but I think Canelo eventually finds his range and does damage. Canelo TKO-10
Patrick L. Stumberg (58-14)
When someone’s so dominant for so long, it’s easy to fall into post hoc justification. I have enough self-awareness to know that I went into my tape viewing looking for a reason to justify my pre-conceived notion that Canelo would win this fight. Luckily, Plant was kind enough to oblige me.
Plant is genuinely excellent when he’s got control of a fight, ripping off high-speed combinations and smoothly gliding away from incoming fire. Controlling a Canelo fight is a hell of a lot different from controlling a Caleb Truax or Vincent Feigenbutz fight, though; Canelo’s suffocating pressure looks perfectly suited to exploiting Plant’s occasional habit of staying stationary as he fires back, and Canelo’s the best ring cutter Plant’s yet faced by a considerable margin. While he’s adept at dissuading pursuit with heavy combos and a nice body attack, he doesn’t have enough firepower to keep Canelo honest; he’ll only be able to stick-and-move for so long before he’s forced to knuckle down and trade heat.
And he’s not winning a firefight.
All that said, Plant’s hand speed, footwork, and stinging jab give him as good a shot as any super middleweight at beating Canelo, with the possible exception of David Benavidez. Canelo’s just going to get inside too often and do too much damage while there. I’ve got Canelo by a 7/5, 8/4 sort of decision, taking over as the fight progresses and his body work pays dividends. Canelo UD-12