Canelo Alvarez (57-1-2, 39 KOs) was too much for undefeated Caleb ‘Sweethands’ Plant (21-1, 12 KOs) in wearing him down and dropping him twice in the 11th round to get a knockout to become the undisputed super middleweight champion at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Canelo is now a four-belt champion at 168, holding the IBF, WBA, WBC, and WBO titles. It was a good fight and Canelo was able to wear Plant down to get the knockout.
With that being said, Canelo will need to fight MUCH better if he intends on moving up to 175 to challenge IBF/WBC light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev or WBA champion Dmitry Bivol for their titles. Based on what I saw tonight, Canelo might lose to both.
Former WBC 168-lb champion Anthony Dirrell (34-2-2, 25 KOs) looked rejuvenated tonight in the co-feature bout in stopping Marcos Hernandez (15-5-2, 3 KOs) in the fourth round of a scheduled 10 round fight.
The 37-year-old Dirrell tagged Hernandez with a textbook right uppercut in the fourth round that separated him from his senses and put him down on the canvas. The referee then counted him out.
It was a good win for Dirrell, who came into the fight not having won a fight in two years.
Rey Vargas (35-0, 22 KOs) used his high punch output to easily defeat his tough opponent Leonardo Baez (21-5, 12 KOs) by a 10 round unanimous decision in a fight in the 126-lb weight class. The former WBC super bantamweight champion Vargas came out on top by the scores 100-90, 99-91, and 100-90.
In the early going, Vargas, 30, looked like he wanted to get Baez out of there quickly, as he was loading up on his shots from the opening round, tagging him with hard punches.
Baez kept coming forward, though and walking through everything that Vargas was hitting him with. He didn’t have the work rate to match the nonstop shots that Vargas was hitting him with.
In the later rounds, Baez was cut, but that didn’t stop him from pressing Vargas and hitting him with some nice shots. Vargas looked like he decided that it was safer for him to just box, which is what he did in the championship rounds to seal the victory.
The big punching light welterweight Elvis Rodriquez (12-1-1, 11 KO’s) got back to his winning ways in defeating the tough previously unbeaten Juan Pablo Romero (14-1, 9 KO’s) by a fifth round knockout.
The first three rounds saw both guys getting nailed by powerful shots, and it was unclear who would take over. However, in the fourth round, Rodriguez, 25, hurt Romero with a hard left to the head. He then teed off on him to get a knockdown.
Like a shark in the water, Rodriguez went after Romero in the fifth, knocking him down with a big left to the head and he was then counted out. The time of the stoppage was at 2:59 of the fifth.
Rodriguez has got potential to be an excellent fighter one day. He needs to defend a little bit better, and he could be one of the major players at 140 within a few years.
Super flyweight Fernando Diaz (10-1-1, 3 KOs) defeated Jan Salvatierra (7-1, 3 KOs) by a fifth round knockout. This was a fun fight with both guys throwing bombs from the first bell. In the fifth, Diaz caught Salvatierra with a big left that put him down. He got back up but fell into the ropes, resulting in the referee waving it off.
In a surprise upset, super featherweight underdog Jose Antonio Meza (8-6, 2 KO’s) beat Jose Gomez (12-1, 5 KO’s) by an eight round unanimous decision.
The scores were 76-75, 76-75, and 76-75. Early on, it appeared that Gomez would take it, as he dropped Meza in the 1st round and was getting the better of the action.
In the second half of the contest, Gomez gassed out, allowing Meza to come storming back to squeak out a narrow decision.
Unbeaten flyweight Joselito Velazquez (14-0-1, 9 KO’s) beat Gilberto Mendoza (19-11-3, 10 KO’s) by a one-sided eight round unanimous decision. The scores were 80-72, 80-72, and 80-72.
Former two-division world champion Rances Barthelemy (29-1-1, 15 KO’s) destroyed an over-matched journeyman Gustavo Vitorri (25-10-1, 12 KOs) by a second round knockout in a scheduled eight round bout at welterweight.
The 36-year-old Barthelemy dropped the Argentinian Vitorri twice in round two. The fight was then halted at 1:54 of the round.
Preview: Plant needs to be reserved
“Man, I’ve been at the level that Caleb Plant is fighting on against Pacquiao, Marquez. He just needs to be reserved, he should be recovered,” said Tim Bradley to Fighthype.
“He shouldn’t show any nervous energy. I understand that he’s hyping up the fight, but just stay relaxed, honestly. I did see that Canelo is super ripped, he looks big.
“Plant, he looks like he’s in great shape as well, but it’s going to be nerve-racking before he gets inside the ring. A lot is on his mind for sure, but he needs to control his emotions by being calm.
That’s the biggest advice I can give him. I was a nervous wreck when I was fighting against an icon in Manny Pacquiao. As soon Plant gets in the dressing room, gets out of his hotel room, then it’s on.
“I think he’ll feel at him as soon as he puts those wraps on and starts to get prepared. It’ll be just like riding a bike for him once he gets inside the dressing room. Stay relaxed, buddy. That’s the biggest advice I have for him.
He’s going to have to, there’s no doubt about it,” Bradley said when asked if there’s going to come to a point in the fight where Plant will need to stand and punch with Canelo Alvarez.
“I would say that Canelo Alvarez is a very deceiving fighter. He pressures you, he can fight off the back foot as well. He will let you hit and use the high guard to deceive a lot of guys. It’s deception.
“He’ll keep his hands up and entice guys to punch and then he’s looking for openings. He’s fantastic at that. He’s one of the best. He’ll slip and find counters as well. His feints are the coldest too,” Bradley said.
Caleb can’t be in no man’s land
“The position I’m worried about Plant is almost like an involuntary movement,” said Bradley. “I would do it at times during my fights. It’s just a habit.
“He kind of gets himself in no-mans-land where he leans this way to his right and use the up-jab. What that does is it doesn’t allow you to use any other punch.
“You’re in a bad position here, you’re legs are spread apart and you’re leaning and you jab. There’s no power on that. You’re shooting a jab and that’s a bad position to be in, especially against a left hook artist like Canelo Alvarez because he can find a left hook here [body] and find a left hook here [head].
“He can find a left uppercut here and a right hand over the top, especially when you’re dropping low trying to defend. Andre [Ward] would sometimes lean in that position as well, and he got hit with a right hand from Kovalev doing that too. So you got to understand that at the same time.
“It’s just a position that you feel safe in, honestly. That’s how I felt when I was doing it, and I worry about that in this fight when Plant starts feeling that pressure,” Bradley said.
Bradley picking Canelo by knockout
“And I say that because Plant’s hardest fight was [Jose] Uzcategui,” said Bradley when reminded that he’s picking Canelo by knockout. “There’s really nothing to measure himself against. This is a completely different level.
“This is almost like outer space. This is the pinnacle of boxing. He’s [Plant] fighting arguable the #1 fighter in the world,” Bradley said of Plant. “So it’s a different atmosphere. It’s hard to breathe at that level.
“He hasn’t fought anyone even close to that level. Uzcategui, I understand, he’s a big puncher and can box a little bit, but he’s no Canelo Alvarez and that’s the thing.
“People say, ‘Why are you just going to pick him [Canelo] by knockout?’ He walked down GGG, understand that, Canelo Alvarez. He walked down the old big bad bully that can box. He can box, GGG can box,” said Bradley about Canelo.
“Heavy jab, move, but he pressed forward. That’s the thing,” said Bradley about Canelo.
“If he can walk down GGG, do you think he’s going to have a hard time cutting off the ring, catching Plant as he’s moving, throwing those body shots where he’s going, setting him up over here, setting him up over there and forcing Plant to make mistakes,” Bradley said.
Canelo will make adjustments in the second half
“Making him panic just with his presence alone,” said Bradley about what Canelo can do to Plant.
“Feints, feinting him out of position. Plant has a ton of skills but doesn’t have the experience that Canelo has. He doesn’t have that threshold that Canelo has, that battle threshold.
“Canelo’s busy. This is the fourth time fighting in 11 to 12 months. He’s going to be sharper than a knife, laser-sharp.
“Plant, how many fights has he had in the last two years? Thank you, that’s what I’m saying,” said Bradley when told that Plant has fought only once in 2021.
“That’s no momentum in your favor. It’s kind of hard for me to believe he’s going to pull off an upset when he hasn’t done enough homework and he hasn’t been pushed.
“How the heck are you going to be ready for this test when you ain’t been studying, when you haven’t been pushed? That’s my take.
“I think it’ll be interesting in the beginning because Plant does have the size and reach. Canelo will have to adjust to the speed because he does have some quick hands. He does throw quick combinations and he will move and have some success.
“He will turn Canelo, especially when he’s putting the high guard up. He’ll be able to turn Canelo, but as soon as Canelo makes that adjustment in the second half once Plant starts slowing down a bit.
Those mistakes he makes become more apparent and that’s when you’re going to see Canelo Alvarez really turn it up and dig and attempt to get him up out of there,” said Bradley.
Canelo Alvarez and Caleb Plant will be meeting for the undisputed super middleweight championship in their highly anticipated match tonight on SHOWTIME pay-per-view at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The card kicks off at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT.