LAS VEGAS – David Benavidez and Caleb Plant have made it no secret that they don’t like each other. For the past two years, Benavidez and Plant have taken subtle jabs at each other and it came to a head in Las Vegas at Thursday’s final press conference before the headliners square off at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday.
Benavidez, a Phoenix native, will defend his interim WBC super middleweight belt for the first time against the toughest opponent of his career in Plant. The winner will become the mandatory challenger to Canelo Alvarez, the former No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer in the world and undisputed super middleweight champion.
Saturday’s bout is a grudge match in every sense. Once the fight was made official, the trash-talking escalated and hasn’t slowed down since, with each fighter disparaging the other’s career, achievements and reputation.
“Every time (Plant) fights a real true super middleweight, he gets hurt,” Benavidez said Thursday. “He’s going to be in there with the hardest hitting and most accurate fighter in the weight class. We’re going to see what’s up.”
Although Benavidez is a former two-time champion at 168-pounds, Plant was quick to call out the caliber of opposition Benavidez has faced.
“You got a real one in front of you,” Plant told Benavidez. “I’m not some blown-up 154-pounder, I’m not a 160-pounder blown up with a two-week notice. I’m the real deal. And you’re going to find out, I promise you that.”
In the lead-up to the fight, Benavidez said there’s no one reason he dislikes Plant, likening the scenario to seeing another kid at the playground and just not getting along. Benavidez said he doesn’t like Plant as a person and he will be unsatisfied with any outcome except a knockout.
“They’re going to see me break Caleb Plant’s f—— jaw on Saturday night. By the sixth round,” Benavidez said.
Plant has called Benavidez’s character into question on multiple occasions by highlighting the two times he lost his belt outside of the ring, once for missing weight and then for a positive drug test. Despite the never-ending trash talk, Benavidez and Plant each managed to acknowledge the threat their opponent poses on Saturday.
“Caleb Plant doesn’t like me and I don’t like him, but it’s a classic fight between a really good boxer and a really good puncher,” Benavidez said. “He’s going to be running all night, and it’s going to be a cat-and-mouse game for me. I definitely have to be on my p’s and q’s.”
The exchange marked a rare moment that either fighter complimented their opponent, both fully aware of the tough task ahead of them with the fight less than two days away.
“David’s a good fighter … I know David’s not a bum, I’m not interested in fighting bums, I’m interested in fighting good fighters,” Plant said. “That’s what boxing needs, that’s what the fans need and most importantly, that’s what I need for my legacy.”
Alvarez currently holds all four belts at super middleweight as the undisputed champion, and the winner of the interim belt on Saturday will become the mandatory challenger to his WBC title.
Fans have been calling for Alvarez to take on Benavidez for years to no avail, but if Benavidez picks up a win this weekend then Alvarez will have no choice but to take the fight or surrender his WBC belt.
Benavidez has twice held the WBC super middleweight belt. The first of the two wins came when he was just 20 years old, making him the youngest super middleweight champion of all time.
“The winner is right there in position to fight for all the belts,” Benavidez said. “But I’m not worried about anything else except this fight. I have to win this fight before I can get where I want to go.”
If Plant wins on Saturday, it will set up a rematch with Alvarez, after Alvarez won his fourth and final belt to become undisputed champion against Plant with an 11th-round KO in 2021. At the time, Plant was the IBF super middleweight champion while Alvarez held the other three belts. That bout remains Plant’s lone career loss after having previously defended the belt three times.
Beyond the scintillating main event, Saturday’s card will feature two more fighters from the Valley in Abel Ramos and his nephew, Jesus Ramos Jr.
“This is a true fight fan’s fight card. It’s a fight card for the true boxing fan. Boxing fans say they want the best fighting the best. Well, we’re giving it to them,” Stephen Espinoza, president of Showtime Sports, said. “Two of the top fighters in the super middleweight division in the main event. Boxing fans say they want 50/50 fights, and we’ve got those up and down the card. The fans say they want high-quality, evenly matched undercards with quality fights, and we’ve got that – meaningful, hard-fought fights up and down the card.”
Ramos, a former world title challenger, opens the card against undefeated Cody Crowley as he looks to re-enter the conversation for a title shot. Crowley is coming off of five straight unanimous decision victories while Ramos last fought over a year ago when he suffered the fifth defeat of his career. Despite the loss, Ramos has the experience in championship fights that Crowley lacks.
“This is going to be a war. We both have the same mindset and that’s going to make this an amazing fight and an amazing night,” Ramos said.
In the co-main event, Ramos Jr. will take on another top undefeated prospect in Joey Spencer, who called out Ramos Jr. after picking up a unanimous decision win in September. Ramos Jr. happily accepted.
“I took this fight because I want respect. I want people to know that I’m here. I’m coming to make a statement at 154 pounds,” Ramos Jr.,22, said. “Whoever wins this fight catapults themselves to the next level. That’s what I’m here for.”
Saturday’s card at the MGM Grand Garden Arena could be a preview of the Valley’s future in boxing. Ramos Jr. said he expects a card featuring him and his uncle, with Benavidez as the headliner, to come to his hometown soon, which would certainly bring fans out in masses.
But before that opportunity comes to fruition, they each face formidable opponents on the undercard of the biggest fight of the year to date, featuring two of the three best super middleweights in the world, Benavidez and Plant, settling their beef for the interim title.