Undefeated two-time super middleweight world champion David “The Mexican Monster” Benavidez retained his Interim WBC Super Middleweight Title with a bruising unanimous decision victory over former world champion Caleb Plant in the SHOWTIME PPV main event Saturday night from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions. The judges’ final tallies were 117-111, 116-112 and 115-113.
The highly anticipated showdown between super middleweight rivals turned into the intriguing clash of styles that many predicted it would be, as Plant’s boxing acumen carried the early action until the brute force and high-volume power punching of Benavidez took over. After 12 grueling rounds in front of a sold out arena, the two fighters squashed their years long beef, embracing and expressing their mutual respect.
The main event of Benavidez vs. Plant will replay Saturday, April 1 on SHOWTIME at 11:05 p.m. ET/PT.
“I know there was a lot said between us but in the end we settled this like men,” said Benavidez. “I’m happy we gave the fans the best rivalry of the year or the last five years. I’m just very happy.”
“It’s a big rivalry but that’s what boxing is all about,” said Plant. “We came here and settled it like men. I take nothing from David. We haven’t been the best of friends but we got into the ring and we settled it like men. That’s what you’re supposed to do. He’s a helluva fighter.”
According to CompuBox, Benavidez (27-0, 23 KOs) held a large advantage in power punches landed (180-68) but also out-landed Plant in jabs (30-23). Plant (22-2, 13 KOs) was the busier fighter, throwing 624 to Benavidez’s 551, but was unable to deter the late round onslaught from Benavidez.
“I knew I had to take it step by step and round by round,” said Benavidez. “Caleb is a tough fighter. He’s not going to give you everything in the first few rounds so you have to find him. But I feel like I didn’t just show that I was a power puncher tonight. I showed that I had defense and head movement and I was able to move around the ring and cut the ring off really good.”
Plant’s movement appeared to give Benavidez trouble throughout the early action, as Plant consistently landed two to three punch combinations and escape Benavidez’s counters. It wasn’t until round eight that Plant’s movement began to slow down and his attempts at holding were increasingly thwarted.
“I was trying to hold him when necessary, punch him when necessary, and throw my combinations when necessary,” said Plant. “But when the best get in there with the best, you roll the dice and someone is going to come out with their hand raised and someone will come up short. And one thing that I pride myself on is that I roll with the best in the world. I haven’t ducked anyone and maybe we can have a rematch in the future.”
As the fight moved into the championship rounds, Benavidez pushed forward more aggressively, busting Plant’s nose and peppering him with short hooks from all angles. Plant stayed on his feet for the final bell, but his final attempts to turn the tide were thwarted by Benavidez. Asked post fight about his future plans, Benavidez set his sights squarely on undisputed 168-pound champion Canelo Alvarez.
“I just want to tell everyone that I have a lot of respect for Canelo Alvarez but he has to give me that shot now,” said Benavidez. “That’s what everyone wants to see. Let’s make it happen.
Now the fans are calling for this fight, the legends are calling for this fight, so let’s make it happen.”
In the co-main event, 22-year-old rising star Jesus “Mono” Ramos (20-0, 16 KOs) delivered a dominating performance over a fellow unbeaten young contender, stopping Joey Spencer (16-1, 10 KOs) in the seventh-round of their super welterweight contest. The fight was officially called at 1:25 of round seven when Spencer’s corner indicated to referee Tony Weeks that they were halting the fight.
“I felt like I looked real good,” said Ramos. “I showed some angles. After the first round knockdown, I got a little carried away with my power a little bit so I took some time to start working on everything that we practiced in the gym.”
Ramos started the fight in spectacular fashion, weathering early pressure from Spencer to land a thunderous short left hook that put Spencer down in round one. Ramos’ power-punching was the key factor in the fight as he outpaced Spencer 147 to 47 in power punches.
Spencer stayed game throughout the contest, standing his ground on the inside and landing his fair share of power shots that snapped Ramos’ head back but did little to deter Ramos’ onslaught. Across the last three rounds of the fight Ramos out landed Spencer at a staggering 71-14 rate.
“Ever since the knockdown I was looking for that punch for two or three rounds and my dad told me to box him behind the jab,” said Ramos. “I started doing that more and I started to land more shots and started to do better and follow the game plan.”
Midway through round seven, as Ramos continued to pour on an unrelenting and varied attack, Spencer’s corner, led by his father and trainer Jason Spencer, waved the towel to prompt the referee to end the fight. After the two young combatants showed respect post fight, Ramos expressed his desire to continue facing serious competition in the stacked 154-pound division.
“I want to thank Joey Spencer for the opportunity,” said Ramos. “He’s a great fighter with a lot of heart. Hopefully we get another fighter like that. It makes for an entertaining night.”
The telecast also saw a closely-contested battle of rising young contenders as Chris “Primetime” Colbert (17-1, 6 KOs) edged out Jose Valenzuela (12-2, 8 KOs) on the scorecards after 10 rounds of lightweight action. All three judges saw the fight 95-94 in favor of Colbert, who stated his willingness to give Valenzuela a rematch in his post-fight interview.
“Listen, I love the fans,” said Colbert. “If he wants a rematch, then let’s get it. I’m no sucka.”
“I beat him,” said Valenzuela. “I want to thank everyone who came out here to support me. I thought I won. I was hitting him with the harder shots. I dropped him. I dominated. But it is what it is.”
Valenzuela, a stablemate of Benavidez also trained by Jose Benavidez Sr., got off to a quick start following the first loss of his career last September. Valenzuela sent a charging Colbert stumbling to the mat with a picture perfect counter left hook. Throughout the fight Valenzuela held the edge in power punching, landing 117 power shots to Colbert’s 77.
“He over-extended and I caught him with a left hook (on the knockdown),” said Valenzuela. “He didn’t hurt me once in this fight. I was having fun. I enjoyed every minute of it. I won. I was having fun. I wanted to show the world what I could do. I can box and I can bang.”
Colbert, who also came into the fight off his first loss, was able to show his fortitude in rising to his feet after the knockdown and making it through the round with a significant amount of time left in the frame. The Brooklyn native Colbert was able to box effectively throughout the remainder of the fight and avoid a return trip to the mat, using a jab that he out landed Valenzuela with at a 47 to 15 clip.
“It was a hell of a fight,” said Colbert. “At the end of the day, I’m not the judge and I’m not a sore loser. I’m a man. I can take it on the chin like a man. He’s a sore loser. I out-boxed him and hit him with more jabs. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a man and he had his spurts. He hit me with some good shots but then he stopped and I jabbed and I jabbed and I jabbed. He got the knockdown but it’s a 10-round fight.”
The middle rounds saw tremendous back and forth action from both competitors. After Valenzuela spent much of round six blitzing Colbert and forcing him to the ropes, Colbert responded in round seven with effective movement and pot shots. After Valenzuela was again successful pushing Colbert to the ropes in round eight, Colbert responded smartly and fought at an effective distance in round nine.
In the final round, Valenzuela appeared to punctuate a victory by hurting Colbert in the closing seconds with a volley of power shots, but he was ultimately edged on all three cards before calling for a rematch with Colbert.
“I felt like I put it on him,” said Valenzuela. “Definitely I’d like a rematch. I have to be fair and square. I went through a lot. I worked hard. It was tough and to come out like this – it sucks.”
In the pay-per-view opener, unbeaten welterweight contender Cody Crowley (22-0, 9 KOs) grinded out a hard fought majority decision over Abel Ramos (27-6-2, 21 KOs) in a 12-round WBC Title Eliminator. With final scores of 114-114, 115-113 and 116-112, the difference in the fight turned out to be an 11th round knockdown for Ramos that was later overturned after a replay review by the Nevada State Athletic Commission before the 12th round.
“I knew it wasn’t a knockdown but they started counting,” said Crowley, who earned the victory on his 30th birthday Saturday night. “That’s why we have the review.”
“It was a good fight against a tough opponent, just like we expected, but I feel that I was robbed with that knockdown,” said Ramos. “The ref told us that they were going to review it, and I guess it’s a technicality, but he went down. It’s like when the rope catches you. They call that a knockdown. So why wouldn’t this be?”
Crowley, who was fighting in honor of his late father who took his own life last year and who was raising money for suicide prevention leading into the fight, followed through on his promise from the event buildup and immediately began crowding Ramos relentlessly beginning in round two. Throughout the fight the two fighters combined to throw nearly 1,000 power punches.
“He was tougher than I thought,” said Crowley. “He’s a veteran for a reason. He’s been in some exciting fights and he knows how to sit down and brace for the shots and he knows how to throw the Hail Mary’s. Hell of a fight. Hats off to Ramos. I prayed for him to have a good sleep so he could come out and have a good performance and I think he slept like a baby last night.”
Despite the pressure, Ramos continued to grind and throw counter power shots to Crowley’s body and head in hopes of breaking down his aggressive opponent. After struggling to find an effective distance for much of the fight, Ramos appeared to find that range in round 10.
Midway through round 11, Ramos connected on a counter right hand that buckled Crowley. Following up moments later, Ramos landed another powerful right hand that hurt Crowley in what was initially ruled a knockdown by referee Robert Hoyle, who thought that Crowley’s glove had hit the canvas.
“At first, I felt that he was getting tired so I wanted to try to catch him on the inside,” said Ramos. “But that’s what he wanted. He started headbutting and pushing me a lot. We got away from that but I think we did it a little bit too late. Once we made the adjustment and started moving around and using our distance, that’s when I caught him with that shot and knocked him down.”
Following the commission review between rounds, the knockdown was removed from the scorecards moments before the bell rang for round 12. After securing the victory, Crowley again offered inspirational words as he had throughout the lead up to fight night.
“For anyone who’s thinking of taking their own life and doesn’t want to be here, I’m proof that you can keep fighting and you will win,” said Crowley. “I worked my whole entire life for this opportunity. The last few years, I didn’t want to live because I couldn’t get my shot, fights been getting canceled. I’ve been training since July. I’ve been broke. I wanted to take my own life and I didn’t and my dad did. And if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be here today.. Now, I’m the No. 1 mandatory for the WBC and I’ve earned my title shot. Within 12 months, I’ll be fighting for the WBC title.”
Prior to the pay-per-view, the SHOWTIME PPV COUNTDOWN SHOW streamed live on the SHOWTIME SPORTS YouTube channel and SHOWTIME Boxing Facebook page and was topped by unbeaten super bantamweight contender Kevin Gonzalez (26-0-1, 13 KOs) earning a unanimous decision (99-91, 98-92, 97-93) after 10-rounds of action against Colombia’s Jose Sanmartin (34-7-1, 21 KOs).
The live streaming presentation also saw Cuban contender Orestes Velazquez (7-0, 6 KOs) keep his unbeaten record intact with a unanimous decision victory over Argentina’s Marcelino Lopez (37-3-1, 22 KOs) by boxing effectively across 10 super lightweight rounds to earn the nod by scores of 99-91 twice and 97-93.
The event was promoted by TGB Promotions and Sampson Boxing.
Veteran sportscaster Brian Custer hosted the SHOWTIME PPV telecast while versatile combat sports voice Mauro Ranallo handled blow-by-blow action alongside Hall of Fame analyst Al Bernstein and three-division world champion Abner Mares. Three Hall of Famers rounded out the telecast team – Emmy® award winning reporter Jim Gray, world-renowned ring announcer Jimmy Lennon, Jr., and boxing historian Steve Farhood as unofficial scorer. Four-time Emmy award winner David Dinkins, Jr. executive-produced the telecast with Bob Dunphy, son of Hall of Fame boxing announcer Don Dunphy, directing. Sportscaster Alejandro Luna called the action in Spanish on Secondary Audio Programming (SAP) with former world champion and SHOBOX: The New Generation® commentator Raúl “El Diamante” Marquez serving as the expert analyst.
The SHOWTIME PPV COUNTDOWN show was hosted by award-winning MORNING KOMBAT live digital talk show hosts Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell, who also serves as an analyst alongside Marquez on SHOBOX®.