Canelo Alvarez and Caleb Plant are ready to put all their belts on the line in a grudge match
If Canelo Alvarez and Caleb Plant are to be believed, there is genuine bad blood between the two as they head into their historic showdown.
They will meet for Alvarez’s Ring super middleweight championship and to unify the four major sanctioning body belts in the first-ever undisputed 168-pound title fight on Saturday (Showtime PPV, 9 p.m. ET, $79.99) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
The rancor each has toward the other has taken shape over a variety of issues. Among them:
–Plant calling Alvarez out for his positive drug test for the banned substance clenbuterol in 2018 that led to a six-month suspension from the Nevada State Athletic Commission and a postponement of his middleweight championship rematch with Gennadiy Golovkin.
–The possibility of something being lost in translation from Plant’s native English to Alvarez’s native Spanish – even though Alvarez understands and speaks English very well now – when Plant called Alvarez a “motherfu—-” when they were trash talking during the staredown that opened their Sept. 21 kickoff news conference in Beverly Hills, California .
There was shoving, punches thrown by both men and plenty of cursing. Plant wound up with blood running down his face from a cut under his right eye that everyone was lucky wasn’t bad enough to put the fight in jeopardy.
Heavy underdog Plant (21-0, 12 KOs), 29, an Ashland City, Tennessee, native fighting out of Las Vegas, has emphatically said he has no love for Alvarez and that incident did nothing but deepen his disdain.
“This is personal for me, but every fight is personal for me,” Plant said. “I’ve sacrificed a lot for this sport and dedicated myself completely, so anybody who’s getting in the way of my goals makes it personal to me. No matter who it is.
“There have been some guys who lost before the bell even rang against Canelo. I think that’s why he’s so irritated with me. Some guys just come in and are there to hand over their belt, get their check and leave. Anyone who knows me, they know I’m only here for those belts.
“I’m grateful and appreciative of this opportunity. But I’m not here focusing on building my name. I’m here for those belts and for that win. That’s all I’m focused on. I don’t think I need to be any more motivated than I already am to fight for the undisputed super middleweight championship of the world. It’s a fight that we both obviously want to win. Maybe Canelo’s emotions boiled over at the press conference and I reacted. Those things happen. I’m just staying zeroed in, locked in and focused.”
Alvarez (56-1-2, 38 KOs), 31, of Mexico, the pound-for-pound king and four-division champion, has rarely gotten personal with opponents or trash talked, so the lead up to this fight is a different situation than he is used to.
“It’s new for me to have this much bad blood with an opponent,” Alvarez said. “It’s very different from normal and it’s definitely the most animosity I’ve had with an opponent heading into a big fight.
“I’m sticking with my prediction of a knockout before round eight. The first couple of rounds will be difficult, but as the fight progresses, I am going to be able to get him out of there. I delivered the message I had to at our press conference. I don’t have to say anything else to Plant. I’m just going to prepare to face him in the ring on (Saturday).”
The press conference incident was not something that the trainers for either fighter anticipated.
“I was very surprised,” Alvarez trainer Eddy Reynoso told The Ring through a translator. “We’ve never conducted ourselves in such a manner during press conferences. We were very surprised about the reaction but there does come a point where you do have to respond to the words of others and their actions. We never responded in such a manner before. That’s not how we conduct ourselves.”
Said Plant trainer Justin Gamber: “I was surprised by what happened at the press conference. If anything, it made it more personal. It’s always been important to beat him, but now there’s a little bit of an extra chip on my shoulder.”
Reynoso said whatever Alvarez’s feelings are toward Plant, he will remain poised during fight week and the bout.
“Canelo is a very mature fighter,” Reynoso said. “He knows how to conduct himself. When we went into training camp we made sure we were prepared for all the potential antics that Caleb Plant might bring. We are mentally prepared for whatever provocations that he might begin because he is someone who does like to talk a lot. He does like to provoke our fighter but Saul is ready for that. We’re ready for that.”
Alvarez said he will not allow Plant’s comments to get the better of him again.
“With all of the talk, it’s become personal,” Alvarez said. “He crossed a line, but I have to remain focused, because this is a very important fight for me.”