It is really not an arguable point that one of if not the biggest story in the sport of Boxing as 2021 begins continues to be the career plans of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, the current unified WBA/WBC Super Middleweight world champion. As most know, Alvarez scored a unanimous decision over previously unbeaten WBA world champion Callum Smith in December and along with winning the WBA crown also earned unified world champion status as the vacated WBC crown was also at stake.
As Alvarez continues to ply his craft under a new promotional agreement with promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing at least in terms of the immediate future and remains in a continuing working relationship with digital subscription-based sports streaming network DAZN, one fighter who has been left out of the equation for the time being is undefeated IBF Super-Middleweight world champion Caleb Plant.
Plant, who entered his bout on January 30th against former IBF Super-Middleweight world champion Caleb Truax unbeaten in twenty professional bouts, appeared as though he might have been a candidate to face Alvarez following the latter’s well-publicized split from longtime promoter Oscar De La Hoya and for time from DAZN. Alvarez of course, opted to begin a promotional pact with Eddie Hearn, which resulted in his recent championship win over Callum Smith and also has been able to maintain his relationship with DAZN in the process.
This has for the time being left Caleb Plant on the outside, looking in and quite possibly missing out on some of the more lucrative opportunities that may be available to him. Why is Plant on the outside, looking in? In this observer’s view it has to do with the fact that Plant currently competes under the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) promotional banner, a banner consisting of a group of promoters that have not always been eager to make fights happen with promoters outside of those promoters that are involved with the PBC.
The undefeated native of Nashville, TN Plant however, is still one of the best fighters in the 168lb. Super-Middleweight division and is one of the rising stars in the sport. Perhaps the best way for a fighter who is on the outside, looking in to provide a strong argument as being a candidate for an opponent of Alvarez’ marquee status is to put forth convincing performances and to do so in front of a sizable audience.
Plant did exactly that when he faced Caleb Truax at the Shrine Exposition Center in Los Angeles, CA. For twelve rounds, Caleb Plant displayed a full arsenal of Boxing skill in masterfully out boxing the former world champion to successfully defend his IBF world championship for the third time. From start to finish, Plant used his height, reach, and timing to dictate the tempo of the combat. What was particularly impressive in my eyes was how measured Plant was in his approach in that he was able to more or less pick his spots and did not at any point in the bout become overly aggressive, nor did he leave his challenger with many openings to execute his offense consistently. While some may argue that the best way for an unbeaten world champion such as Plant to provide a strong argument for a potential fight with a fighter such as Saul Alvarez would have been to score a knockout, there is something that is perhaps more impressive depending on one’s perspective about a fighter who is able to be in complete command of a twelve round world championship bout from start to finish, which was in some ways not all that unlike the performance that Alvarez was able to put forth against Callum Smith in that Plant was able to win all twelve rounds on all three official judges scorecards.
What does a victory over Caleb Truax do for Caleb Plant in the long run? Well, the victory did allow Plant to resume competition after being sidelined for over a year due to the ongoing global COVID-19 epidemic. Perhaps more beneficial however, is Plant’s victory over Truax, which took place behind closed doors due to the ongoing epidemic, was seen by over two million viewers in the main event of a four hour Boxing card televised nationally here in the United States on the national Fox network.
While yours truly has long been critical of those promoters who continue to insist on an outdated and overpriced model of pay-per-view in the sport of Boxing even in the midst of a global crisis as well as the steady shift of consumers toward over the top (OTT) digital streaming options over traditional cable and satellite television distribution, a steady shift that has only accelerated due to COVID-19, any Boxing card that draws over two million viewers on free television should serve as an indicator to those holdouts that have resisted adapting away from the pay-per-view model that it is time to shift focus. Plant’s performance in front of a large viewing audience, which was more sizable in scope than many recent cards that have been presented strictly on pay-per-view should not only drum up interest toward a potential encounter with Alvarez down the line, but also should show promoters that there is an audience for the sport of Boxing. It just may not be an audience that is willing to pay an inflated fee to watch it.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
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