Caleb Plant knows what is coming, long before the questions are asked. On Saturday (8 p.m. ET, Fox), he’ll defend his IBF super middleweight championship against Caleb Truax in Los Angeles.
There is some heat between them, as Plant doesn’t like some things that Truax has said about him and vows to make him pay.
But usually the first question or the majority of the conversation isn’t about Truax, a good fighter who briefly held the IBF belt after a 2017 upset of former Olympic gold medalist James DeGale.
More often than not, though, the conversation is more about another fighter, one who is not in Plant’s immediate future.
What, Plant is asked regularly, does he think of Canelo Alvarez’s run at super middleweight?
Alvarez is the top pound-for-pound boxer in the world and now holds the WBA and WBC versions of the 168-pound belt. Alvarez is one of those guys who always thinks of unification and taking the biggest fights, so that’s where Plant comes in.
Alvarez is going to make his mandatory defense against Avni Yildirim on Feb. 27, then likely will face unbeaten WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders in May.
But because Plant has a belt, he’s automatically in Alvarez’s sphere.
“As of now, I’m getting more questions about Canelo, but my focus is on Truax,” Plant told Yahoo Sports via Zoom from his home in Henderson, Nevada.
Plant hasn’t been bashful about his goal of unifying the division, which has a lot of talented fighters in it. But the fight with Alvarez is the one all of the contenders are shooting for because it brings by far the most money and the most recognition.
A win over Alvarez by any of the contenders — Plant, Truax, Saunders, David Benavidez, Daniel Jacobs and David Morrell, among others — would vault that fighter into boxing’s stratosphere.
Plant knows that, but he’s also wise enough to understand that a guy like Truax can’t be overlooked. These are the types of bouts that have caused so many talented fighters so many difficulties in the past. Plant is a whopping -3000 favorite at BetMGM, while Truax is +1000.
At 30-1 man-to-man odds, the line is suggesting it’s extremely unlikely that Truax will win. Plant, though, is ignoring that, as he’s wise to do.
“It’s about keeping my eyes on the prize,” Plant said. “That comes in steps. So for me to get where I really want, I have to take it one step at a time and I have to focus on the plate of food that’s in front of me. I can’t be looking down the road or at everyone else’s plate.
“Boxing has been around for a while and there’s a lot of great examples of what to do and what not to do. You can look at those examples and learn from other people’s mistakes without having to go through it the hard way.”
Truax is 37 and doesn’t have a ton of notable victories on his résumé, but that win over DeGale speaks volumes. But he’s 31-4 and his four losses have come to DeGale in the rematch, Daniel Jacobs, Anthony Dirrell and Jermain Taylor, likely the best of the group he’s faced other than Peter Quillin.
The Quillin fight was stopped after two rounds and was a no-decision because of a cut Truax suffered from an inadvertent head butt.
Truax has plenty of confidence, but he understands the significance of this moment. Even more than Plant, it’s now or never for him.
“At my age, at 37, there is no telling when I’ll be able to get a world title fight again,” Truax said. “So I’ve been approaching it as if this is my last shot. I’ve been very focused in camp and just determined to leave it all in the ring and get my belt back.
“I’m going to win because I’m the most experienced and the best fighter that Plant has ever faced. I believe my experience, my pressure, my conditioning and just my determination will be the factor in getting the win and I expect to do so on [Saturday].”
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