Body of work: Canelo Alvarez unifies super middleweight division with TKO11 win over Caleb Plant
SAN DIEGO, Calif., November 6, 2021 – Despite a valiant effort by challenger Caleb Plant of Nashville (21-1, 12 KOs), Canelo Alvarez of Mexico (57-1-2, 39 KOs) secured his legacy as the first unified super middleweight champion in the four-belt era and world’s top pound for pound boxer. Alvarez delivered a powerful, emotional performance in Las Vegas, ending with an 11th round TKO win. He now holds the WBC, WBA, WBO, IBF, and Ring Magazine titles.
“Gracias a todos,” said Alvarez to the sellout crowd of 16,586 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, nearly all of them cheering on the champion. “It hasn’t been easy to get to this point. With your support, my family, my team, we’ve gotten “really far. This is for everybody, especially for Mexico. We did it tonight. It signifies so much for the history of Mexico to be the undisputed champion.”
At the time of the stoppage, judges all scored the fight in favor of Alvarez: 98-92, 97-93, and 96-94. This was before scoring the knockdown, which became unnecessary when referee Russell Mora stopped the bout.
Caleb Plant suffers first loss
Credit Caleb Plant for being much tougher than predicted. Few fighters other than Gennadiy Golovkin have been able to stand up to the legal assault Alvarez put on him in the ring. Half of the 102 power punches landed by Canelo were body shots (53 total, making up 45.3% of his total landed punches).
Plant fought the best fight he could, executing the right game plan for his skillset. Plant fought behind his excellent jab, lacking enough raw power to intimidate Alverez, landing 42 of 232 thrown. It kept Alvarez honest and kept him thinking. Plant had limited success with hooks to the head, but it wouldn’t be enough with just 59 power punches landed.
Plant’s fortitude is remarkable. He stood up to repeat hard left hooks to the liver and smashing hooks to the head for ten hard rounds. He will feel them for a week. Alvarez brought out the arsenal earlier than he usually does, driven by the animosity built up toward Plant. Trainer Eddy Reynoso reminded”d Alvarez to be patient and stick to the game plan as his fighter stood in the corner between rounds.
But eventually, not even the determined Plant could outlast Alvarez. At the start of the 11th round, Alvarez caught Plant with a sweeping left hook, followed by a right hook. As Plant leaned forward, Canelo pushed him back to get full leverage on an uppercut. It was the first knockdown of Plant’s career. He got up too quickly, wobbling all over the ring as referee Russell Mora gave him the count. Alvarez ran to Plant, and after missing the first punch, drilled Plant with repeated hooks to both sides of the head. The fight was over at 1:05 of the round.
Alvarez: “That’s the way it had to finish”
“He’s a great fighter. I respect him,” said Alvarez. “He is a difficult fighter. He has a lot of ability. He was making it difficult. Eddy (Reynoso) told me to keep with the game plan, and I got him. That’s the way it had to finish. He was already hurt, and I went in for the kill.”
Following the win, Alvarez went to Plant, embraced him, and spoke with him at length, seeming to comfort and encourage him after his first loss. “We’re men at the end,” said Alvarez. “He wanted to fight me. I told him there’s no shame.” Alvarez apologized for the shoving incident at the news conference. “I told him everything’s OK. Keep going.”
Plant left the ring to seek medical attention without comment.
In five fights against taller opponents, Alvarez has landed a total of 225 body shots. The taller men present a bigger target, and Alvarez takes full advantage of this. His remaining potential opponents all fall in this category.
Alvarez won’t be tested unless he faces a powerhouse like Artur Beterbiev or a nimble technician like Dmitry Bivol, who can avoid getting hit as Plant did. Premier Boxing Champions would love to keep Alvarez in the fold with a fight against middleweight Jermall Charlo or a scrap with David Benavidez.
For now, Alvarez says he deserves a rest and won’t tip his hand. He can work on his golf game on one of the many world-class courses in the San Diego area with his friends from Del Mar. If he loses a bet or two, he can afford it. We bet he’ll have that handicap down to two or three before his next fight.
Undercard winners: Dirrell, Vargas, Rodriguez
In the co-main event, 37-year-old veteran Anthony Dirrell of Flint, Michigan 34-2-2, 25 KOs) delivered an uppercut off a full windup to stop Marcos Hernandez of Fresno, California (15-5-2, 3 KOs) at the start of the fourth round. Dirrell needed to impress to stay relevant in the division and perhaps win the Canelo lottery.
“I knew he was getting tired from the body shots and me putting pressure on him. Then I had the slip and put the uppercut right on the button. We practiced that in the gym. It’s just some short stuff we practiced. We practiced it back there, and it reassured me it worked,” said Dirrell of the winning punch.
After more than two years out of the ring, Rey Vargas of Mexico (35-0, 22 KOs) moved up to the featherweight division for the first time, easily defeating Leonardo Baez of Mexicali, Mexico (21-5, 12 KOs) by unanimous decision. Scorecards were 100 – 90 X 2 and 99-91. Considering his absence from the ring, it was a strong if not thrilling performance.
Super lightweight prospect Elvis Rodriguez of the Dominican Republic ( 12-1-1, 11 KOs) bounced back from his first loss to Kenneth Sims, Jr. with a flashy knockout win over Juan Pablo Romero of Mexico (14-1, 9 KOs). Rodriguez dro9pped Romero in the fourth round and made it stick with a big left hook at the very end of the fifth round. Premier Boxing picked up Rodriguez’s contract after Top Rank dropped him. Rodriguez got the new partnership off to a solid start.
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