David Benavidez got everything he wanted last night in Las Vegas bar the KO he seemed hell-bent on scoring leading up to his bitter grudge fight with Caleb Plant. Instead of breaking Plant’s jaw and rendering the former IBF super middleweight champion unconscious, Benavidez had to make do with a commanding points victory, the scores being 117-111, 116-112 and 115-113.
Now 27-0(23) and the interim WBC middleweight champion, Benavidez immediately called out the star he has been chasing for some time – Canelo Alvarez. Benavidez, who overcame an effective start from Plant, with Benavidez coming on strong in the middle and late rounds as plenty of experts felt would be the case, had to cope with plenty of holding tactics from Plant. Referee Kenny Bayless was criticised by more than a few fans for allowing Plant to get away with the holding.
Benavidez really poured it on in round eight, with Plant eating some serious power shots. Plant held on and survived, this with the aid of a bad call from Bayless. With Benavidez in full control and with Plant clearly hurt, the third man called time for the doctor to look at the cut Plant had suffered above his right eye. There was no lull in the action at the time, with :48 left on the clock, and Benavidez may well have been robbed of a stoppage.
But as bad a night as Bayless had, Benavidez and Plant gave us a darn good fight, with both men giving their all. The two bitter rivals, having refused to touch gloves at the start of the fight, embraced at the end of it. The two rivals now having mutual respect, Benavidez then called for what he wants, and deserves, next.
“I want to shout out Caleb Plant,” a victorious Benavidez said. “I know there was a lot said between us but in the end we settled this like men. He’s a helluva fighter. I’m happy we gave the fans the best rivalry of the year or the last five years. I just want to tell everyone that I have a lot of respect for Canelo but he has to give me that shot now. That’s what everyone wants to see. I just feel like he has a lot of options. But now the fans are calling for this fight, the legends are calling for this fight, so let’s make it happen.”
We sure would love to see Canelo get it on with Benavidez, but as Benavidez said, Canelo does have options. The Mexican star will fight John Ryder in a Mexican homecoming in May, and then it looks like it will be that rematch with Dmitry Bivol up at 175 pounds. That would take Canelo into 2024, so Benavidez may well have to wait. But Benavidez-Canelo is one of the biggest and best fights that can be made right now, on that we all agree.
As for the gutsy Plant, 22-2(13), who has been stopped only by Canelo, he can come again. Right now, last night’s winner and loser alike deserve a good rest.