When Caleb Plant steps into the ring with Caleb Truax on Saturday in Los Angeles (FOX, 8 p.m. ET), he'll be fighting for more than picking up a victory to retain his his IBF super middleweight championship. On the line for Plant is also a potential mega-payday against Canelo Alvarez.
Alvarez, the WBC and WBA champion, has announced his intention to unify all world titles in the division, and has a potential May showdown lined up with Billy Joe Saunders for the WBO belt -- assuming Canelo gets past Avni Yildirim on Feb. 27. That could mean a late 2021 or early 2022 bout with Plant to unify all the belts.
Of course, all that hinges on a series of definitive results, beginning with Plant having to get through the man who once held the very same championship in Truax.
During his rise to the top of the division, Plant (20-0, 12 KO) has emerged as a budding star in the sport of boxing. While being given bigger stages, Plant has thrived and turned in some of the more impressive performances of his career. In January 2019, Plant entered the ring against Jose Uzcategui as an underdog, and two knockdowns and a dominant performance later, emerged as a world champion.
Plant would follow up his world title win with TKO victories in title defenses against Mike Lee and Vincent Feigenbutz. All this set up the fight with Truax, who many view as past his prime. As a mandatory opponent, however, he allows Plant the wiggle room to hopefully push toward the Alvarez fight.
"First things first, I'm ready to handle my business Jan. 30 against Caleb Truax," Plant told FightHub in a recent interview. "It'll be a back-to-back mandatory for me, which is why we're taking this fight. That way I can do back-to-back mandatories and that leaves me a year's worth of open and free fights, to fight whoever, wherever -- and that's to make unification fights and become first undisputed super middleweight of all time."
Truax is a capable fighter, and his 2017 shock upset of James DeGale won him a world championship, even if DeGale won the belt back in their immediate rematch. He is, however, 37 years old, and time does catch up to fighters. Bad luck can strike a fighter as well, and Truax has experienced his share recently, including a cut due to an accidental headbutt against Peter Quillin, an Achilles injury and then a bad weight cut that scrapped a planned fight with Alfredo Angulo.
The challenger is under no illusions about his status as an underdog entering the fight, as the older fighter coming off his recent run of unfortunate situations and facing a young, hungry world champion. Still, Truax believes being the underdog is a perfect role for him.
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"I embrace that role," Truax told The Ring. "It motivates me to prove everyone wrong. I see people online saying I don't deserve the fight and I'm just another cherry pick for [Plant]. But I feel like I'm the best fighter he's faced by far, and I think I offer something that no other fighter that he has -- except for Uzcategui –- offered to him in being a former world champion and being experienced and having fought the much better fighters than he has. So I feel really good about the matchup."
This card will also see the return of Rances Barthelemy when he takes on Ali Rivera in a welterweight feature. Barthelemy, 34, hasn't fought since April 2019 when he drew with Robert Easter Jr. for the vacant WBA and IBO lightweight titles. Prior to that draw, Barthelemy scored a TKO of Robert Franckel in December 2018 and lost a rematch to Kiryl Relikh. Rivera, meanwhile, boasts a 21-4 mark with 18 KOs, but he has only fought in America once prior to this bout -- a TKO loss to Malik Hawkins in September 2019.
Plus, heavyweight slugger Michael Coffie returns when he faces off with Darmani Rock in the co-main event. Coffie is a fast-rising prospect looking to enter the elite tier of the division in the next couple of years. With eight knockouts in 11 pro fights (all wins), Coffie is surely on his way to that. But standing in his way is another unbeaten prospect in Rock, who boasts 12 KOs in 17 pro wins. Rock hasn't fought since October 2019, but he could use the time off after taking on four opponents over the course of the year.
Below you can have a look at the full fight card set for Saturday's broadcast, with odds provided via William Hill Sportsbook.
Plant vs. Truax card, odds
Caleb Plant (c) -3000
Caleb Truax +1300
IBF super middleweight title
|Joey Spencer||Isiah Seldon||Middleweight|
The odds for this fight are what they are for a reason. Even if Truax's best days were not behind him, Plant is a terrible stylistic matchup. Plant is going to be faster, stronger, more powerful, more capable defensively, and really have every athletic advantage possible in this fight. Truax is a former world champion, and a guy who has managed to make the most out of his tools and carve out a nice career for himself. But in 2021, Plant is just too much. Still, this is a better fight than we've seen Plant in over his two title defenses, which were both laughably poor matchmaking, especially the Mike Lee fight. It's hard to imagine this going any way other than Truax being outboxed, worn down and stopped in the second half of the fight. Pick: Caleb Plant via TKO8