"And the new!" Caleb Plant declared prior to Sunday's IBF super middleweight title bout with Jose Uzcategui that everyone would hear those words, and the 26-year-old proved himself right. After dropping Uzcategui twice in the first four rounds, Plant held off a late comeback attempt to remain undefeated and win his first world title by unanimous decision at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
The two fighters didn't take long to see what the other was made of, launching flurries and combos all first-round long. The fierce action continued into the second round, as Plant (18-0, 10 KOs) scored a knockdown less than a minute into the round with a combo that ended with a left hook. Uzcategui (28-3, 23 KOs) may have been slightly off-balance, but a knockdown is a knockdown -- especially considering the Venezuelan had only been knocked down twice coming into the bout.
In the fourth round, a cut opened up over Plant's right eye, but the far busier and quicker challenger shook it off to send Uzcategui tumbling down yet again with another wicked left hook. Both fighters actually hit each other at the same time during the exchange, but Plant's shot was clearly more effective.
The much more deliberate Uzcategui had his moments as the fight went on, especially in the later rounds. He appeared to hurt plant in an action-packed ninth with a wicked uppercut, and kept up the pressure the rest of the way, searching for the knockout -- though he was never able to get it, and didn't really come close.
Even as Plant slowed down, and was no longer able to dazzle Uzcategui quite as much with his quickness, he did more than enough to hold on and secure the victory on the scorecards by a comfortable margin (116-110, 116-110, 115-111).
Though he appeared to know he won the fight right after the final bell -- he raced around the ring with his hands held high above his head -- he still crumpled to the floor in jubilation as the official announcement was made. Plant had overcome plenty of adversity to get to this point in his career, including the death of his daughter.