Paulie Malignaggi feels that Caleb Plant (22-2, 13 KOs) deserves a lot of credit for toughing it out in the championship rounds to go the 12 round distance in a losing effort against David Benavidez (27-0, 23 KOs) last Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Malignaggi notes that the former IBF super middleweight champion Plant was exhausted from the pressure that Benavidez was putting on him and the energy that he had to expend to smother his offense by holding & running around the ring.
Spoiling the way that Plant was doing required a lot of energy because Benavidez was resisting being held and cutting off the ring to land his big shots.
“I thought Caleb would have a pretty good start for the fight and then fall apart late,” said Paulie Malignaggi to Paulie TV, reacting to David Benavidez’s victory over Caleb Plant.
“I really felt that Benavidez’s lack of ability to cut off the ring played a big part in his troubles in the first half of the fight. Caleb was able to circle the ring and find the escape routes necessary while also being able to put together combinations. Just being deceptive.
“Caleb is a deceptive fighter. If you’re not a Mike Tyson-esque power puncher, you need to have a lot of deceptiveness to your style. Caleb really specializes in that deceptiveness.
“So if you don’t cut off a guy like Caleb the way that Canelo did, you’re going to allow him to be comfortable despite the fact that you’re pressuring him because he’s always going to find a guaranteed escape route.
“Caleb was able to do that early on, especially in the first half of the fight. As the fight wore on, Benavidez, like I said, he doesn’t cut the ring off very well, but he closes the gap pretty fast for a guy who doesn’t cut off the ring.
“He gives himself his own trouble by not cutting off the ring very fast, but he also comes at you pretty fast and in a pretty intense way. Eventually, if you slow down and get tired from the movement. If the intensity of the fight starts to get to you wear off, even though he’s not cutting off the ring, he’s eventually getting closer and closer to you.
“I thought Caleb did a good job of being able to smother Benavidez early on when Benavidez got too close, and he was able to find an escape routes and he was able to make him pay with some pretty good shots.
“As he became more tired, the smothering became more fatiguing. Smothering and holding, it still takes some energy for you to do that, especially when the other guy doesn’t want to be held and doesn’t want to be smothered.
“Because I felt he didn’t dig deep in the Canelo fight, I felt he’d do the same thing against Benavidez when it got late, and he was in deep water. Credit to Caleeb Plant.
“When we get paid a lot of money, and it doesn’t seem like there’s a way out of the fight, I think we owe it to the fans to try and fight our way through to the end. Caleb dug in. Listen, it wasn’t pretty for him at the end. Benavidez got to him and was battering him in the last few rounds.
“Caleb got through it, but he came up short. That seemed like it was going to happen in the last few rounds, yet he still fought through the last few rounds.
“That’s the definition of a fighter regardless of how much money he’s taking home because he would have taken home that much money anyway. The check was guaranteed. So credit to Caleb for going through those tough rounds at the end of the fight.