They hugged it out after all. While there was some real deep rooted animosity between David Benavidez and Caleb Plant coming into their super middleweight showdown at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, after 12 hard-fought rounds, they had at least earned each others respect.
But it was Benavidez, with a late charge that won the fight and is now the WBC interim champion.
“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.”
As expected, the slick boxing, fast moving Plant won the early rounds as he boxed well. He built an early lead against Benavidez, who just kept trudging forward and took his time, understanding that this was not a sprint but a marathon.
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Yet while Plant was winning some early battles, he lost the war, as he was never able to truly ever stun Benavidez with any of his quick punches. While he landed leather, Plant simply did not puncture 'the Mexican Monster' to a point where he ever really dissuaded him.
By the time the fight reached the championship rounds, Benavidez's power and strength began to erode Plant, who started to literally hold on for dear life with the aid of referee, Kenny Bayless. At times, Plant was doing more Greco-Roman wrestling than 'the sweet science.' In rounds eight through twelve, Plant was in pure survival mode.
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“I knew I had to take it step by step and round by round,” said Benavidez, who hurt Plant several times late, and bloodied him. “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.”
Benavidez is a momentum fighter, he is the proverbial snowball that once he starts moving downhill, he becomes an avalanche of pressure and punches. Plant was just simply swamped in the second half of this bout.
“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.”
With the victory, Benavidez, who had previously held the WBC 168-pound twice, has put himself front and center with fans as a worthy challenger to Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez, who is currently the undisputed king in the division.
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Yeah, some will say that Alvarez is a much more stout puncher than Plant, and that Benavidez's aggressive style will be tailor made for him. But on the other hand, at age 33 and 64 fights into his long career, how will Alvarez deal with the onslaught that will eventually come his way. Either way, ask yourself this, short of light heavyweights like Dmitry Bivol (who soundly decisioned him last year, and may fight him again in September) and Arthur Beterbiev, is there another guy you'd want to see against 'Canelo'?
“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 the 26 year old 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.”
Meanwhile at the Save Mart Arena in Fresno, there was a card televised by ESPN that featured the return of former unified junior welterweight champion, Jose Ramirez, who took on the faded career lightweight, Richard Commey. While Ramirez stopped Commey in the 11th, it was alarming to see him get touched up so often.
Before this fight, Ramirez had an interesting discussion with ESPN's Mark Kreigel explained his decision to not fight Regis Prograis. The explanation probably did not play well with fans, who aren't part of the management of Ramirez.
Moving forward, it will be interesting to see who he faces next. You wonder, even if Prograis' handlers offer a deal where Ramirez gets his contracted minimum under his deal with Top Rank if he would accept it. He did say after afterwards, “I want any world champion. If Regis Prograis is serious about fighting, we can sit down and negotiate. Let’s sit down and make the fight.”
On the undercard, Seniesa Estrada put forth a sharp performance against Tina Rupprecht to become a unified minimumweight champion. 'Super Bad' pitched a shutout (100-90) on all three scorecards. And now she moves on in her quest to become an undisputed champion.
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“I want to tell the other champion at 105 pounds [Yokasta Valle] that I’m whooping you next. You can get it next. I am the best in this division, and I know it.”
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