Canelo Alvarez drew first blood after trading insults and then blows with Caleb Plant in a fiery opening press conference to announce their undisputed super-middleweight title showdown in Las Vegas on November 6.
In an extraordinary press launch on Tuesday, IBF king Plant mocked WBC, WBA Super and WBO 168lbs champion Canelo on stage during an intense stare down, prompting a scuffle. The Mexican star pushed Plant, who missed with a wild left hook before a Canelo counter left the American with a cut under his right eye until members of both camps waded in to intervene.
Plant’s manager Luis DeCubas Jr later told ESPN.com: “No punches landed in the scuffle; Caleb’s glasses scratched his face, which caused a slight scratch. No stitches, no butterflies, no nothing. He’s good to go.”
The cut certainly did not appear severe enough to jeopardise the unification clash at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, but raised tensions further as Plant riled Canelo by accusing him of taking PEDs (referencing a failed 2018 test which Canelo asserts was the result of the consumption of tainted meat) and, in the eyes of the Mexican, insulting his mother by simply calling him a ‘motherfucker’.
“You can say whatever to me, but not to my mom. I’m going to fight anyone who says something about my mom. And he swung first. I just pushed him. He swung first and I do what I do. He crossed the line,” said Canelo. “It will be over in eight rounds or less. I’m going to knock out this guy. Easy.
“You are not on my level and you will see on November 6. You don’t want to fight now, I promise you. We come from nothing and we worked hard to be here. For somebody to lie and talk trash about us, that upset [trainer and manager] Eddy [Reynoso]. It is what it is though. We just have to show everyone who we are on November 6.
“Caleb might be on the same level as [previous foes and world champions] Billy Joe Saunders and Callum Smith, but he’s not on my level. I respect that he isn’t here to back down. You can see from today that this is definitely going to be a good fight.
“I know what I need to do and I know a lot about him. He’s a good fighter but I know my skills. My experience is going to give me the edge in the fight. I have faced similar styles to Caleb’s against Floyd Mayweather, Erislandy Lara, Austin Trout and Saunders.
“He’s an insecure person and that’s why he came with a lot of excuses about lots of things. I don’t care about it though. I’m just going to do my best on November 6 and win the fight. To be undisputed is history for Mexico and for everyone on my team. To be the undisputed champion is just a great thing for my career.”
Plant remains steadfast in the belief that he will prevail on November 6 and has already succeeded in angering Canelo and tunnelling underneath his skin.
“We just had some normal back-and-forth banter up there and then whatever happened, happened. It’s none of my concern though. I’m focused and locked in on November 6,” said Plant.
“I know only one thing better than proving people right and that’s proving people wrong. I’ve been doing that my whole life. As soon as I stepped on the stage, people started talking about what I can’t accomplish and what I can’t do. Where I come from, there is no boxing community. There was no other pro I could look to and say that if he can do it, then I can do it. All I had was my mind and my heart.
“I know that people don’t believe me when I tell them I’m winning on November 6. All those people who tell me that I can’t do something, you live believable lives and you do believable things. I promised myself that I was going to run this all the way to the top, with no problem crashing and burning along the way. I set out to live an unbelievable life and accomplish unbelievable things. Those people who doubt me are the very reason that I’m here.
“Miguel Cotto’s brother can make you do the chicken dance but I can’t? Okay. Mark my words on November 6 you will hear the words, ‘And the new undisputed super-middleweight champion,’ but you will also hear the words ‘and still undefeated’.
“Being undisputed would mean a lot. I’ve sacrificed so much to this sport and I’ve been doing this a long time. All that work would come down to one moment. I want my name in those history books and that’s the only reason that I’m here.”
Main image: Amanda Westcott/Showtime.