With WBC and WBA Super king Canelo Alvarez stating his intention to unify the world 168lbs crowns, IBF super-middleweight champion Caleb Plant appears tantalisingly close to a lucrative payday.

Mexican star Canelo gained his two 168lbs belts with an imperious display against Callum Smith in December, but his rival title holder from Nashville wasn’t as impressed or convinced as most of the boxing world after a widely praised masterclass of adroit aggression and merciless body punching.

Plant (20-0, 12 KOs) was lined up to fight Canelo before Smith, but his management team didn’t feel five weeks was sufficient notice. An interested observer, ‘Sweet Hands’ felt Smith went into his shell in the one-sided 12-rounder and didn’t believe the Liverpool man left everything in the ring.

“I wasn’t overly impressed. I didn’t really see [Canelo] do something where I was like, ‘Wow! This is, you know, something I haven’t seen or new elements to his game.’ For the most part, I just felt like Callum went from rope to rope, from corner to corner,” Plant told The Ak and Barak Show, which broadcasts on DAZN and SiriusXM.

“You can call it commendable that [Smith] got in there and fought him. But at no point did he really fight Canelo. He got in there and the bell rang and he stayed alive for 12 rounds. But I don’t feel like he ever really put it all out there and really went out on his shield.

“Everybody gets hit with body shots. At this level, everybody gets hit with a good shot at some point [that] you may feel or a body shot. That doesn’t mean that you get to fold. That doesn’t mean that you just go from rope to rope and corner to corner and not even go out on your shield. When I fought Jose Uzcategui [to win the IBF title], nobody wanted to fight him. At some point in that 12 rounds, he caught me with a nice shot.

“But you never saw me fold and go from rope to rope, and just not even try and fight back andtry to win. And same thing with him. I sent him down twice. I caught him with body shots. I caught him with a whole lot of shit. That doesn’t mean that you just get to go from rope to rope and give up, though. And that’s kind of what I feel like [Smith] did.”

The unbeaten American believes the outcome would have been similar, even if Smith had enjoyed the luxury of greater notice and a longer training camp.

“Not to put anyone down, but Callum Smith, he’s kind of an A-B-C, 1-2-3 fighter. He kind of stands straight up, not too many dimensions to his game. I have seen him be able to make a couple of adjustments in fights,” added Plant. “But just stylistically, and with the experience that Canelo has and the style that Callum has, I feel like it probably wouldn’t have worked out either way [with more notice]. But when you give yourself four weeks to train on top of that it’s [even more difficult].”

Plant will next defend his IBF crown against former champion Caleb Truax (31-4-2, 19 KOs & 1 NC) at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall in Los Angeles on January 30. A unification bout with Canelo could follow later this year in either May or September. 

Main image: Stephanie Trapp/TGB Promotions & Matchroom Boxing