Caleb Plant put Jose Uzcategui down twice during their 12-round, 168-pound title fight in January 2019.
Two fights after Plant out-pointed Uzcategui unanimously, Lionel Thompson dropped the former IBF super middleweight champion in the first round of a 10-round bout Thompson also won by unanimous decision. Never, however, has an opponent stopped Uzcategui inside the distance during his 10-year, 35-fight pro career.
David Benavidez intends to end that trend when he squares off against Uzcategui in a 12-round IBF/WBC super middleweight title eliminator November 13 in Phoenix. The taller, younger, fresher Benavidez (24-0, 21 KOs) has knocked out 88 percent of his pro opponents and is heavily favored to beat Uzcategui (31-4, 26 KOs) in their “Showtime Championship Boxing” main event at Footprint Center, the home arena of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns.
Benavidez, 24, and Uzcategui, 30, were supposed to fight August 28, but Benavidez contracted COVID-19 and their fight was postponed 2½ months. Benavidez was forced into quarantine for three weeks, but the former WBC 168-pound champion stated during a virtual press conference recently that he slowly but surely returned to full strength while training.
“I’m definitely gonna be the same fighter I always am, going in there looking for the knockout, going in there, you know, ripping the body. [It’ll be] a fast pace, you know, action-packed fight. You know, this is my biggest fight to this day and this is what the fans are expecting, so why would I go in trying to change my style up? I feel like I wanna make a statement. You know, nobody’s ever stopped Uzcategui. It’s gonna be a hard task to do, but, you know, I’m all up for it. That’s exactly what I’m gonna try to do.
“And that’s what he’s gonna be trying to do to me, too. So, it’s gonna be a great fight, man. I’m very excited. I’ve been working extremely hard and now it’s a IBF and WBC title eliminator, so the next – you know, this is a big fight for the both of us, you know, so I’m excited to go in there and give the fans a great fight.”
The Benavidez-Uzcategui winner will become the IBF and WBC mandatory challenger for whoever wins the 168-pound title unification fight the previous Saturday night between Mexico’s Canelo Alvarez (56-1-2, 38 KOs) and Las Vegas’ Caleb Plant (21-0, 12 KOs). Alvarez, 31, and Plant, 29, will fight for Alvarez’s WBA, WBC and WBO super middleweight titles and Plant’s IBF belt in a Showtime Pay-Per-View main event November 6 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.