IBF super-middleweight champion Caleb Plant shut down and shut out former title holder Caleb Truax in a one-sided mandatory defence at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall in Los Angeles on Saturday night. Scores were 120-108 on all three cards.
‘Sweet Hands’ Plant (21-0, 12 KOs) breezed to an emphatic points victory over 37-year-old veteran Truax (31-5-2, 19 KOs & 1 NC) to potentially line up a lucrative September showdown with unified champion Canelo Alvarez on Mexican Independence Day weekend.
Canelo hopes to be the undisputed 168lbs champion before the year is out and already has a February 27 engagement with Avni Yildirim and clash with WBO king Billy Joe Saunders pencilled in for early May. That gives Plant a tantalising chance to be the last man standing at super-middle at the end of 2021.
Nashville’s Plant later confirmed he had hurt his left hand in the fourth or fifth round en route to the straightforward triumph over the former IBF champion from Minnesota.
“I kind of hurt my hand early in the fight and maybe [was] a little bit hesitant at times, but I still feel like I put on a great performance,” Plant told Fox’s Heidi Androl afterwards. “And, you know, I didn’t get touched really. I feel like I put on a great performance. I’m happy.
“I wanted the stoppage. I’m a little disappointed my hand got hurt early on in the fight, but I feel like I put on a great performance and I’m ready for whoever and whatever is next.
“That’s my goal [to face Canelo]. I want to become the first undisputed super-middleweight champion of all-time and so whoever is in the way of that, it doesn’t matter. I feel like I’m the best super-middleweight in the world. Whoever is in the way of me becoming the first undisputed [168lbs] champion, you line ‘em up, I’ll knock ‘em down.”
Plant, 28, won as he pleased. The champion was simply too fresh and fast for the battle-weary Truax, charitably rated No.1 by the IBF, and at times it felt like a glorified exhibition.
Behind a fluid jab, ‘Sweet Hands’ frequently snapped back the head of Truax and reeled off crisp combinations. Truax’s face gradually began to redden and, by the fourth, his nose was leaking blood.
The champion ghosted away from the ineffectual aggression of Truax with his superior footwork, but the veteran soaked up his punishment and hung in there without ever threatening an upset.
“I’m a little disappointed, but I’m okay,” said Truax afterwards. “I wanted to put pressure on him and make it a dogfight, but he was elusive. Every time I tried to put pressure on him he was able to escape out the back door. I wasn’t able to put a glove on him. I knew he was going to be quick, but he was a little more elusive than I expected. It wasn’t a fast-paced fight and credit him for that. I wanted it to be a fast-paced fight and put pressure on him, but he controlled the pace and he was very elusive.”
Crucially, Plant couldn’t score the stoppage and never looked close to forcing that outcome. Canelo won’t have seen anything to fear but Plant will feel he can rise to a grander occasion.
In notable fights on the undercard, heavyweight hope Michael Coffie (12-0, 9 KOs) dropped Darmani Rock (17-1, 12 KOs) twice to score a third-round stoppage whilst unbeaten 154-pounder Joey Spencer (12-0, 9 KOs) swept aside Isiah Seldon (14-4-1, 5 KOs), son of former heavyweight champion Bruce, in the opening round.
Meanwhile, two-weight world champion Rances Barthelemy (28-1-1, 14 KOs) outboxed All Rivera (24-4, 18 KOs) over 10 rounds at welterweight. Scores were 100-90, 99-91 and 97-93.
Main image and all photos: Ryan Hafey, Premier Boxing Champions.