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Fight Picks: David Benavidez vs. Caleb Plant

Tensions are high between Benavidez (left) and Plant going into the fight. (Photo by Esther Lin/Showtime)
Fighters Network
22
Mar

On Saturday, ​former two-time WBC super middleweight titlist David Benavidez will face former IBF beltholder Caleb Plant in a 12-round grudge match at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas.​The anticipated showdown will be broadcast live onShowtime Pay Per View, beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET/ 6:00 p.m. PT (as well as on PPV.com in the U.S. and Canada, and on FITE.tv in Canada and the U.K. and Ireland).

Benavidez, The Ring’s No. 1-rated super middleweight behind champion Canelo Alvarez, is an offensive beast; physically imposing with impressive power. He became the youngest fighter to win a super middleweight world title when he edged past Ronald Gavril (SD 12) to collect the WBC belt. He beat Gavril (UD 12) more comprehensively in a rematch.

However, the Arizona native was busted for cocaine use and stripped of the title in September 2018. But Benavidez impressively regained the belt from Anthony Dirrell (TKO 9), only to miss weight in his first defense, losing the belt at the scale. The 26-year-old has fought three times since, notably demolishing former middleweight titlist David Lemieux (TKO 3).

In his most recent fight, Benavidez knocked out David Lemieux in three rounds. (Photo by Esther Lin/Showtime)

Plant, The Ring-rated No. 2 super middleweight, was a solid amateur and was an alternate for the 2012 U.S. Olympic team. As a professional, he quietly went about his business until his big moment came against IBF titleholder Jose Uzcategui (UD 12). “Sweet Hands” made three defenses, easily beating Mike Lee (TKO 3), thrilling his hometown fans with a clinic against Vincent Feigenbutz (TKO 10), and whitewashing former titleholder Caleb Truax (UD 12).



The 30-year-old lost his title when he faced Canelo Alvarez (TKO 11) when they met to decide the undisputed championship in 2021. He has since rebounded by scoring a highlight reel knockout over former titleholder Dirrell (KO 9) last October.

Plant competed with then-P4P King Canelo Alvarez with his stick-and-move style. Photo by German Villasenor

This is the best opponent Benavidez (26-0, 23 knockouts) has faced to date. Is he able to raise his game to do to Plant what he’s done to his 26 opponents to date? Does Plant (22-1, 12 KOs) have enough power to keep Benavidez honest at the end of his jab? It will be 10-months since Benavidez last fought, he looked a little heavy at the press conference to announce the fight and is known mightily to struggle to make 168 pounds. If he’s lethargic at the start, might he struggle to catch up with Plant? If Plant is able to build an early lead, can he hold off Benavidez in the second half of what figures to be a grueling contest?

Online gambling group William Hill lists Benavidez as an 1/3 (-300) favorite, while Plant is priced at 5/2 (+250); the draw is 12/1 (+1200).

Promoter Tom Brown stands with Benavidez and Plant at the L.A. press conference. (Photo by Esther Lin/SHOWTIME)

Here’s how the experts see it:

THE RING STAFF

DOUG FISCHER: BENAVIDEZ late TKO
This is a toss-up fight and an excellent matchup of styles. One week I favor Plant, the next week I favor Benavidez. But fight week is here so I can’t sit on the fence any longer. I’m going with Benavidez’s pressure and volume punching over Plant’s mobile ring savvy and counter punching. I think Benavidez can halt Plant in the late (maybe championship) rounds, but he might be trailing on the scorecards. Plant’s educated jab and lateral movement will trouble Benavidez in the early rounds. His counter punches will keep Benavidez honest and somewhat in check until the Arizonan acclimates to the former IBF titleholder’s rhythm and style during the middle rounds. Benavidez will drop fast flurries whenever in range, but his body shots are what will ultimately pay dividends. Once he’s able to get Plant to the ropes, which won’t happen until the middle or late rounds, Benavidez will inflict some real damage with body-head combinations. Plant will remain game to the bitter end, but the hunch is Benavidez’s size, pressure and high-volume attack will become overwhelming after nine or 10 rounds.

ANSON WAINWRIGHT: BENAVIDEZ TKO 10
Really interesting fight between the two guys trying to decide who is the most deserving to face the undisputed super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez. This is Benavidez proving ground, while Plant wants another crack at Canelo. There is real needle and discord between these two and I expect that to surface in the press conference and weight in. On fight night, I think for a couple of rounds Plant’s jab and movement may see him take an early lead but once Benavidez figures him and out gets rolling, he’s a tough man to stop. He’ll back up Plant and then start to punish him but as Plant showed against Canelo, he’s capable of going rounds and I think he’ll last until about the 10th when Benavidez withering body attack will finally take its toll.

LEE GROVES: BENAVIDEZ TKO 10
This fight has been defined by the fighters’ mutual fury against one another, and this dynamic plays well for Benavidez, who usually fights with emotion anyway while Plant operates best when he is calm and focused. If Plant is to win, he needs to use his skills to frustrate an already-hyped up Benavidez, which, in turn, would create more openings for counters and could pave the way for a decision win. That said, one potential danger of Plant’s sensational KO win over Anthony Dirrell is the temptation to think he can do the same to Benavidez. That would be a fool’s errand because Benavidez has an excellent chin and he is the naturally stronger man. Plant could very well build an early lead, but once Benavidez warms up and finds his rhythm, his physicality, work rate, accuracy and power will wear down Plant to the point where Benavidez will apply a final volley of power shots that will induce the TKO stoppage.

DIEGO MORILLA: BENAVIDEZ KO 10
In a fight in which both fighters have so many qualities in common and so many similarities, it all boils down to confidence. And Benavidez has more of that, and with enough reason. Punching power is on his side too, as well as momentum. It should be a solid win by Benavidez, who has been clamoring for a bigger stage and will surely get it if he nails this win in highlight-reel fashion.

MARTY MULCAHEY: BENAVIDEZ PTS
This is a fantastic matchup of two confident boxers in or near their primes. It’s hard to ask for much more! The bottom line for me is that everything Caleb Plant can do I believe David Benavidez does slightly better. It should be a hotly contested affair, so I don’t see either guy winning more than three consecutive rounds given the ring IQs of the pair. The judges should favor the power of Benavidez over the precision of Plant, and I think both guys’ volume will drop in this fight given the countering abilities at work so the power will stand out even more. I generally pick speed over power, but Benavidez is excellent at timing an opponent’s jab or using his feet to maintain space for his offense. I like Benavidez by split or majority decision, sweeping the championship rounds to accomplish the feat.

NORM FRAUENHEIM: BENAVIDEZ TKO 10
It’s a fight that’s been brewing for years. It’s also a fight that got a lot more interesting after Caleb Plant scored a Knockout-of-the-Year candidate by leveling Anthony Dirrell with a lethal left hook set up by a body shot in the ninth round of an October fight in Brooklyn. It looks as if there’s some power in those Sweethands, after all. But how much? And for how long? The threat of Plant’s newfound power might make Benavidez wary early. If he doesn’t feel it within the first few rounds, however, his instinctive aggression figures to be there in an attempt to walk down, punish and eventually exhaust Plant with abundant energy and non-stop punching.

BOXING INSIDERS

DUKE MCKENZIE (FORMER THREE-DIVISION TITLEHOLDER/TV ANALYST): BENAVIDEZ TKO
This is a live one. While we all know Plant from his fights with Canelo and Dirrell, we are yet to see how good Benavidez is. This step up in class is exactly what he needs. I feel Plant can be a little one-paced at times. When he’s up for a fight, as in the Dirrell fight he looks a million dollars but as we’ve seen in the Canelo fight, he went walk about psychological and was well beaten. I see a late stoppage for Benavidez, who’s work rate will be too much for Plant.

MARC RAMSAY (TRAINER): BENAVIDEZ TKO 9
Here’s an exciting fight. Caleb Plant is a talented fighter that has proven in the past that he can beat B+ or A- boxers and he has also been competitive during his fight with Canelo. But the real question is: is Benavidez an A+ class fighter? I believe that the magnitude of the fight and the pressure that comes with it will bring Benavidez to another level and we will finally see his full potential. After a competitive start, I see Benavidez outflanking Plant in the second half of the fight. The pressure that Benavidez will bring to the table and his high volume of work will finally get the better of Plant.

CAMILLE ESTEPHAN (PROMOTER, EYE OF THE TIGER PROMOTIONS): BENAVIDEZ TKO 7
This should be an exciting battle. I see Plant causing some problems early in the fight, but I believe David Benavidez’s explosiveness and precision will make all the difference. I see him winning, stopping Plan around Round 7.

CHRISTIAN MBILLI (SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHT CONTENDER): UNDECIDED
For me, there are several possible outcomes. Either Benavidez is technically overtaken by Plant, and in this case, Plant would win on points or Benavidez physically overpowers Plant and stops him before the limit.

ERIK BAZINYAN (SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHT CONTENDER): BENAVIDEZ TKO

I think Benavidez will stop him, he is stronger and bigger, but Plant has a good footwork and will try to box him. I think Benavidez by TKO.

TOM GRAY (DEPUTY EDITOR FOR THE SPORTING NEWS): BENAVIDEZ TKO 11

The best non-title fight around, at least until April 22. I think Plant has improved since the loss to Canelo, but I’m not sure it’ll be enough to hand Benavidez his first loss. I can see it being very competitive in the first half, but I expect Benavidez to grind Plant down for a late stoppage win.

KATHY DUVA (PROMOTER, MAIN EVENTS): BENAVIDEZ UD
Plant will probably make it close in the beginning of the fight. He always comes out hot. But he tends to coast later in the fight. Unfortunately, you can’t coast against a fighter like Benevides. It’s a terrific match. But I expect that Benevides will show his class and find a way to win. So, I’m picking Benevides by unanimous decision.

JOLENE MIZZONE (MANAGER): BENAVIDEZ TKO 8
As much as my heart wants me to go with Plant, I have to pick Benavidez in this one. I don’t think Plant will be able to handle his power, but with that being said Plant has the Breadman in his corner and he will have a game plan for sure, which will make a difference. I just think Benavidez power is going to be a problem for Plant and game plans go out the door once you feel that power. I will say this if Plant can stick to game plan and box beautifully, it can go to the score cards, which may be a SD for Plant. End of day looks like I actually have two picks.

BOBBY BENTON (TRAINER): BENAVIDEZ TKO
I think it’s a great fight but I’m leaning towards Benavidez. I think his pressure will be too much for Plant later in the fight. If Plant can back Benavidez up, he has a chance. The movement doesn’t really bother Benavidez. I think Benavidez will stop Plant late.

ALEX STEEDMAN (COMMENTATOR): BENAVIDEZ TKO
This is the litmus test for Benevidez and finally the kind of opponent to help inform fans as to where he fits in. Is he really the destroyer or still a work in progress? Plant will ask questions for sure with his quick hands and alert style. His feet don’t move at the same speed, but he was still extremely effectively until late on against Canelo and on that performance, he can win this. Officially their sizes match up but Benevidez fights bigger and punches harder which might be telling down the stretch. Plant is attractive at the current odds but I’m picking Benevidez to wear him down.

RUDY HERNANDEZ (TRAINER): BENAVIDEZ PTS
I think it’s a very interesting fight and comes at a great moment for both. Styles make fights. If these two are as eager to fight as they sounded at the press conference, then we’ve got a fight. Benavidez punches in bunches, with the desire to be the very best and get that fight with Canelo. Plant’s style can be illusive with decent power to humble anyone with a single shot. In a very interesting and competitive fight, I’ll lean towards Benavidez by close decision. It’s 51/49 either way. May the best man win.

ERIC BOTTJER (MATCHMAKER): BENAVIDEZ TKO 11
Caleb Plant can beat David Benavidez. But only if Benavidez doesn’t prepare. Two weeks out, Benavidez is supposedly at weight. His goal is to whack Plant before the end of six rounds. I’m picking Benavidez, assuming that he IS taking Plant seriously and WANTS to win impressively. The talent gap is too pronounced to consider Plant an upset winner against a prepared Benavidez. Does Benavidez stop him? Now that would be an accomplishment. Plant’s biggest talent is his almost delusional belief in his own abilities and his spartan work ethic. How will he react when he realizes he can’t beat Benavidez? How will he fight when Benavidez makes it clear he’s out for blood? Benavidez has a lot of critics. This is his chance to answer them. He wins in 11.

WAYNE MCCULLOUGH (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION/TRAINER): BENAVIDEZ PTS

The fight between David Benavidez and Caleb can be won by either guy. It’s going to come down to the one with the right game plan. Plant needs to use his slick movement and long jabs to keep Benavidez at bay to win rounds. If he can sustain this, he could win the fight on points. Benavidez likes to fight in close, unleashing hard punches and that is what I expect him to do. Plant should have success winning the early rounds, but it will be hard to keep an aggressive Benavidez off. After the halfway point I think Benavidez could catch Plant with a left hook and get the knockout win.

RAUL MARQUEZ (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION/COMMENTATOR): BENAVIDEZ TKO
I strongly favor Benavidez. The Mexican monster by late-round KO and hopefully will see the fight I been waiting for Benavidez vs. Canelo.

JOHN SCULLY (TRAINER): BENAVIDEZ PTS
If I had to bet, I would say that Plant will give Benavidez a very, very tough fight stylistically and he’s going to have to have a lot of success against him, but I think sooner or later the strength factor will come into play and Benavidez will grind out a decision victory.

Final Tally: Benavidez 20-0, 1 undecided

 

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on 

Twitter@AnsonWainwright

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