SAN DIEGO, Calif., January 12, 2019 – Premier Boxing Champions gets its 2019 boxing year underway with a rare Sunday afternoon event at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles with a super middleweight title on the line in the main event.
IBF world champion Jose Uzcategui of Venezuela (28-2, 23 KOs) and undefeated challenger Caleb Plant of Nashville (17-0, 10 KOs) will put a clash of styles on display for fans, with both men hoping to impose his game plan on the other man.
The fight has been overdue since September. Plant earned his opportunity after a strong decision victory over Rogelio “Porky” Medina in their title elimination fight last February. The bout was scheduled for September, but Plant broke his left hand in training. He has been out of the ring 11 months. Meanwhile, Uzcategui won an easy 10 round decision over Ezequiel Maderna.
Uzcategui defends world title for first time
Uzcategui, 28, needs to prove he’s worthy of the world champion designation. His rematch win over Andre Dirrell last March gave him the regular title. He was elevated to the world title when James DeGale of Great Britain refused to defend it. Plant has made a point of this, and Uzcategui doesn’t much like it.
“About the only thing I can say about my fight is that I don’t respect Caleb Plant,” Uzcategui said. “He has talked too much, and I will punish him, beat him up and then knock him out.”
Plant would be foolish to underestimate the tough Venezuelan, who’s favored in this fight, and he doesn’t. “He’s a rough, rugged guy who comes forward and I know he’s coming to win,” said Plant. “Everyone says Jose Uzcategui is the bogeyman, but after (Sunday), I don’t want no excuses.”
Plant: Layoff leaves him better prepared
Plant, 26, now living and training in Las Vegas, says he’s even better prepared now than he would have been last September, taking time to study Uzcategui and put a smart game plan together. He’ll need it. Plant uses movement and boxing skills to frustrate his opponents. Uzcategui is an aggressive power puncher who plays the hurt game.
“I really think that with our styles, this is going to be fireworks. I believe that on [Sunday] you will hear [the ring announcer say] ‘and the new!'” added Plant. Plant says he has a photo of the IBF belt on the ceiling above his bed so he can see it when it wakes up, and before he goes to sleep. It will be his first title fight.
Uzcategui, 28, lives in Tijuana and trains across the border in San Diego with Jose Cital, a formerly homeless teen who worked multiple jobs to start his own gym. Uzcategui has a natural affinity for the Mexican Style school of boxing, having engaged in street fights for money as a kid. An accomplished amateur fighter, he missed the chance for fight for Venezuela in the Olympic Games when his daughter died during qualifying. Instead, he turned pro in 2011.
Learning from losses yields valuable experience
In his 2014 American ring debut, Uzcategui suffered a defeat to Matt Korobov by decision, despite knocking Korobov down twice in the middle rounds. Uzcategui looks back at the experience as a valuable lesson. It was Cital’s idea to move the Venezuelan up from middleweight to super middleweight. He won his next four fights.Then came the first fight against Andre Dirrell. Uzcategui was dominating the fight in the early rounds, but knocked Dirrell down with a punch after the bell in the eighth round. Uzcategui lost by disqualification. Emotions boiled over, and Dirrell’s co-trainer and uncle Leon Lawson punched a surprised Uzcategui. Six months later, Uzcategui won the rematch with ease, ending in a ninth round TKO. He laughs now about the situation with the Dirells, saying the brawl “made me famous.”
Uzcategui says Plant is a good fighter, but believes he will overpower Plant, both physically and mentally thanks to the trials he has endured.
“I don’t respect Caleb Plant,” said Uzcategui. “It’s not a personal disrespect but in the fight game, you’ve got to earn respect. You can’t just talk, you’ve got to get in the ring and prove it. How can anyone show you respect when you keep saying you’re better, but you haven’t proved it? Do your talking in the ring and then after, not before.
“I’m going to punish him, beat him up and then knock him out. It may not be easy…nothing is easy,” declared Uzcategui. No disagreement there.
Prediction: Uzcategui by last round stoppage
Uzcategui is the taller, stronger man. He’s right about his experience, which is far superior to that of Plant. Plant will be testing his repaired left hand, and if it’s not quite ready it will leave him short of a tool he needs. Uzcategui will put on the pressure from the opening bell. If Plant can’t find his way around Uzcategui, the Venezuelan will be willing to brawl, taking a shot or two to deliver the kind of damage that builds round after round. If so, t will be only a matter of time before a game but outworked Plant suffers his first loss when the accumulated punishment is too much.
Figueroa steps up against Flores in co-main event
In the co-main event, junior featherweight prospect Brandon Figueroa of Welasco, Texas (17-0, 12 KOs) faces Moises “Chucky” Flores of Mexico. The winner will become the mandatory challenger for world champion Daniel Roman. Flores fought Roman last June and lost by decision. He was ineligible to win Roman’s title anyway as he failed to make weight.
There is a ten-year age gap between Figueroa, 22, and Flores, 32. It’s a step up at the right time for Figueroa. “I want to show everyone I’m the real deal, and I’m ready for that world title … This is the kind of fight I need to prove that I’m ready.”
Flores is eager for another shot at Roman, and a win would give it to him. “I’ve been in the gym since that loss,” Flores said. “So now I’m confident I will be at my best. Figueroa and I both throw a ton of punches. It’s gonna be an all-out war.”
Guillermo Rigondeaux returns on undercard
Also on the card and under the radar is the return of two time Olympic gold medalist and former junior featherweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux of Cuba. Rigondeaux is the newest member of the Premier Boxing Champions stable. Once considered among the pound for pound best, the crafty Cuban met his match in a demoralizing defeat at the hands of another two-time Olympic gold medalist, Vasiliy Lomachenko. To the shock of everyone watching in December 2017, Rigondeaux quit after six rounds. All right, technically he begged off due to an injury. Rigondeaux (17-1, 11 KOs), who claims to be 38 years old, gets a tune up against Giovanni Delgado (16-8, 9 KOS) of Mexico. The 27 year old Delgado has lost six of his last seven fights. If Rigondeaux can’t look good here, he needs to seriously rethink a return to the ring.
Also on the action packed card, light heavyweight Ahmed Elbiali of Miami (17-1, 13 KOs) hopes to start his year with a win after his surprise defeat last year by Jean Pascal against Allan Green of Tulsa (33-5), who’s only had one fight in five years; and Ryan “Cowboy” Karl of Houston (15-2, 9 KOs) tangles with Kevin Watts of Los Angeles (12-3, 5 KOs) in an eight round junior welterweight fight.
Fox Sports 1 will air undercard fights starting at 6:30 pm ET/3:30 p.m., with the main event portion of the card starting at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego
Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.
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