Sometimes, showcases don’t go the way they’re intended to.
Make no mistake. Saturday, the main event (Fox, 8 PM EST) is supposed to be the Caleb Plant show. He’s been well highlighted in the days leading up to the fight and competes in the same super middleweight division as Saul Alvarez. There are bigger hopes and dollars being played toward. Plant is being positioned to win and look strong doing so.
If he keeps winning, and holds his title strap, unification possibilities with Alvarez will get closer with each round completed from now until opportunity knocks.
That doesn’t mean it will go that way. Showcases go wrong just enough to make it possible for boxing fans to suspend disbelief. Caleb Truax has been a fly in the ointment before, defeating James DeGale in one of the biggest upsets of the last decade. At 37, he is likely past the point where he can do it again.
We won’t know until the leather flies.
Let’s get into it.
Stats and Stakes
Current Titles: IBF Super Middleweight (2019-Present, 2 Defenses)
Previous Titles: None
Weight: 167 ½ lbs.
Hails from: Nashville, Tennessee
Record: 20-0, 12 KO
Press Rankings: #2 (Ring, ESPN), #3 (TBRB), #4 (Boxing News), #6 (BoxRec)
Record in Major Title Fights: 3-0, 2 KO
Last Five Opponents: 137-18-1 (.881)
Notable Outcomes, TBRB and/or Ring Rated Foes: Jose Uzcategui UD12
Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: None
Previous Titles: IBF Super Middleweight (2017-18)
Weight: 167 ¾ lbs.
Hails from: Saint Michael, Minnesota
Record: 31-4-2, 19 KO, 2 KOBY
Press Rankings: #6 (Ring), #10 (ESPN)
Record in Major Title Fights: 1-1 (1-2, 1 KOBY including WBA sub-title fights)
Last Five Opponents: 111-18-5 (.847)
Notable Outcomes, TBRB and/or Ring Rated Foes: Daniel Jacobs TKO by 12; Anthony Dirrell TKO by 1; James DeGale MD12, L12
Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: Jermain Taylor L10; Peter Quillin ND2
The Pick: A good, honest professional, Truax’s win over DeGale gave his career extra legs but those probably run out here. The difference on film between Plant and Truax in terms of speed and reflexes leaps off the screen. If Truax can get, and stay close, is there a chance he could make it a rough fight? If so, is there a chance he could do it enough to win seven rounds? Neither of those questions feel like a yes. Neither man has been a mammoth puncher and that makes it an even harder hill to climb for Truax. Plant is a clever boxer with good feet and anticipation to go with his edge in speed. It doesn’t mean he’s as good as he’s looked so far. The sample size in terms of quality opposition for Plant is fingertip deep; that Truax is probably one of his three best opponents says a lot about how far Plant has to go.
But there is a destination in mind for Plant and whether that comes this fall or early next year, he should be a step closer after Saturday night.
Rold Picks 2021: 2-0
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org