There is a point in every boxer’s career that he or she finds out just how much they want to fight. It’s that moment when defeat is staring them in the face. It is when they can barely draw enough breath to keep going and the lactose acid has built up in their muscles to the point that they can barely hold their hands up. But, still they find a way to keep fighting. They find a way to win.
Pride is very often enough to drive a boxer past that immovable wall that they hit, and with some it is family. All they need is to bring the image of their mother, father, wife or kids into their mind to gain the will to win that their body is telling them they no longer have.
When Caleb Plant challenged Venezuelan, José Uzcátegui for the IBF super-middleweight title in January, few expected him to be victorious let alone knock down the champion twice on his way to a unanimous decision at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles, California. It was a performance that was all the more remarkable because of Plant’s trials and tribulations outside the ropes.
Caleb “Sweethands” Plant had been a good amateur, winning the 2011 Golden Gloves Light-heavyweight title and serving as an alternate for the 2012 US Olympic squad. Turning professional with manager Al Haymon, Plant was well matched with a steady stream of beatable but good quality learning fights. The first notable name on his record was Rogelio Medina in the bout before Caleb challenged for the title against Uzcátegui. Medina had challenged James DeGale for the title in 2016 but in all honesty, had lost to every class operator he faced going into that bout.
Uzcátegui had won the title in a rematch with high quality former champion Andre Dirrell, their first fight ending by DQ after Uzcátegui knocked out Dirrell with a punch thrown after the bell.
In the rematch which took place 10 months later, Uzcátegui dominated Dirrell who retired after the 8th round.
In his personal life Plant had suffered the loss of his 19 month old daughter Alia due to a respiratory infection and later the death of his mother Beth who died after being shot by a police officer. Beth had pulled a knife on the officer, she later died in hospital.
Either of these events would have been enough to derail the career of most boxers. Not Caleb Plant, instead he used these tragic events to drive him to a career-best performance few experts saw coming.
On the night, Plant fought a near perfect, strategic fight, outboxing the Venezuelan from start to finish in a manner his previous pro outings had not suggested possible.
The reason I think Plant may be able to rise to the occasion and give Liverpudlian Smith a stiff challenge is
Few men ever have to cope with the tragedies Plant has had to. Even fewer, can use those sort of experiences to drive them on to the heights that Caleb Plant has achieved.