SOONER or later for Caleb Plant it will become a question of belief. For year after year Canelo Alvarez, his opponent on Saturday at the MGM Grand, has been operating at the highest level, fighting the biggest names in the sport time after time. Plant has impressed during his own rise and has become the super-middleweight ranked second in world boxing. But Canelo already has a legacy. Plant is trying to make one and in this fight he will be crossing a threshold. He has never fought anyone like Canelo Alvarez before. Plant’s experience, so far, is not comparable to the great Mexican’s. There will come a point where the man from Ashland, Tennessee, will simply have to have faith in himself that he can deliver against the best the sport today has to offer.
“We’re not just up here keeping our fingers crossed hoping that things turn out how they should. That’s not how life works. If you want something in life then you’ve got to believe it and you’ve got to know and you’ve got to feel it in your heart. But you’ve got to work for it. People go through things in life where they put a certain of amount of work in, a certain amount of time and eventually you just feel indestructible at whatever you’re doing and that’s the point where I’m at in my life, where I feel like I can conquer anything and everything,” he said.
“You haven’t seen the best Caleb Plant. You’ve seen some good performances out of me but you’ve yet to see the best of me. So that’s why I’m excited about this fight because like I said before, all great fighters have been this position, where they’re the underdog, they’re expected to lose and they go in there, they do the job that they’re supposed to do and then they become the big dog. So this has happened many times before in boxing. This is my moment. I feel like this is my destiny. I believe I’m supposed to win. I feel that in my heart. I’ve just got to go out there and execute the gameplan.”
Plant wants to topple Alvarez and become a boxing superstar himself. Their first meeting in September also sparked an added element of spite, when, after exchanging words at a press conference head-to-head, Canelo pushed Plant across the stage and a fracas ensured.
“It was normal pre-fight banter, ‘I’m going to beat you, no I’m going to beat you, f**k you, no f**k you’ and then it seemed like he lost his temper, lost his cool,” Caleb said. “I responded the way I was raised to respond and taught to respond. I’m a fighter, whoever puts their hands on me and pushes me, this is how it’s going to be.”
“I wasn’t too surprised,” he continued. “It’s boxing, how many times has that happened before us? How many times is that going to happen after us? I think people make such a big deal out of that because it’s like a headline… He pushed me, I got one on him, he got one on me and that was it. I’ve been in worse scuffles than that. I’m sure most of us in this room have, so what’s the big deal really?
“Some of these guys, he knows that they’re coming in just to hand their belt over and I think he knows that that’s not the situation with this fight and so he’s trying to pull me out of my gameplan and get me riled up, you know whatever the situation may be, but that’s a rookie move.”
The scrap left Plant with a small cut on his cheek, which he insists did not disrupt any of his training. “The press conference was on Wednesday, we sparred the next day on Thursday, we sparred on that Saturday, there hasn’t been any issues at all. Like I said just a scratch, I had my sunglasses on, whoever’s bright idea it was to have it outside with the sun right in our face, I appreciate that. So I kept my glasses on but then they just kind of pushed up and there was a scratch,” he said.
The incident only underscores the emotions Plant has towards Canelo and towards this contest. “All fights are personal to me. This is not just a job. Boxing is my whole life,” he said. “That’s all we think about, that’s all we do, is boxing so anybody trying to get in the way of what I’m trying to accomplish and be remembered as once I’m no longer here, anybody trying to disrupt that, that’s personal for me. This is really important to me and I put my blood, sweat and tears into the sport. So it’s personal. After the press conference it made it more personal.”