Sunday, May 28, 2023  |


Caleb Plant wanted to knock COVID-19 out of the way on his path towards his biggest challenge ever

Photo by Esther Lin / Showtime
Fighters Network

Caleb Plant, who holds the IBF super middleweight world title, is days away from what will be, by far, the biggest fight and payday of his life.

He is set to face Ring champion and unified titleholder Canelo Alvarez for the undisputed 168-pound world championship on Saturday (Showtime PPV, 9 p.m. ET, $79.99) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

There has never been an undisputed super middleweight champion in the three- or four-belt era, and it’s a fight Plant very much wanted. He can claim boxing immortality with a victory, not to mention a purse that has been widely reported at $10 million.

Plant (21-0, 12 KOs), who will be making his fourth title defense but also facing by far his most significant foe in pound-for-pound king Alvarez (56-1-2, 38 KOs), 31, of Mexico, was not about to leave anything to chance when it came to the coronavirus pandemic.

That is why the 29-year-old Plant, an Ashland City, Tennessee, native fighting out of Las Vegas, despite hesitation, received his vaccination against Covid-19 during the summer.

“I feel like if you’re healthy and you’re young and you’re strong like I am, the long-term effects (of the vaccine) — I’m not exactly sure what they are,” Plant said. “But I feel like if I got Covid I could get through it just fine. But I did get the vaccination and I’m vaccinated because I don’t want this moment to slip by and I’ve already sacrificed so much, so I’m not going to let something like Covid get in the way of stopping me from my destiny.”

There have been several high-profile fights impacted by an unvaccinated boxer coming down with Covid-19 and having their bout postponed. Plant said he was not about to become the next one.

“No one put a gun to my head and said, ‘you have to get a vaccination,’ or anything like that,” Plant said. “To be honest, and not for any political reason, but I haven’t been a big fan of the vaccination. But I’m not opposed to people getting the vaccination.”

The most significant fight postponed due to a fighter falling ill with Covid-19 was this past summer when heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, who had gotten one vaccine shot but had not gone back to get his second dose, became ill with mild symptoms a couple of weeks before his planned third fight with former titlist Deontay Wilder. It forced the fight be postponed until Oct. 9, when Fury knocked out Wilder in the 11th round of an all-time classic battle at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Fury’s illness is not the only example of a notable fight being delayed due to the coronavirus. Ring and unified lightweight world champion Teofimo Lopez came down with the virus barely a week before he was supposed to defend against mandatory challenger George Kambosos Jr. on July 19 in Miami. That postponement was just the first of what became a series of postponements for various reasons, not to mention a change of site and a purse bid default by Triller.

The fight still has not taken place yet, but it is scheduled for Nov. 27 at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York in the main event of a Matchroom Boxing card on DAZN.

Two Premier Boxing Champions main events on Showtime were also postponed due to the virus in recent months:

-Former two-time super middleweight titlist David Benavidez came down with Covid-19, forcing his fight with former titlist Jose Uzcategui on Aug. 28 in Phoenix to be postponed until Nov. 13. Because of the postponement, Benavidez now has a new opponent. Now he will square off with Kyrone Davis because last week Uzcategui tested positive for a banned substance (EPO) and was dropped from the bout.

-The junior featherweight unification fight between WBC titlist Brandon Figueroa and WBO counterpart Stephen Fulton Jr. was scheduled for Sept. 18 but postponed until Nov. 27 at Park MGM in Las Vegas because Figueroa became ill with the virus.