Caleb Plant left the ring Saturday night suspecting that he had suffered a fracture to his left hand.
The unbeaten IBF super middleweight champion managed the pain well enough to dominate mandatory challenger Caleb Truax in a 12-round title fight FOX televised from Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall in Los Angeles. Plant isn’t sure, however, whether his hand injury will require surgery.
A procedure on his hand could keep Plant (21-0, 12 KOs) out of the ring for an extended period, though the right-handed title-holder doesn’t think it will prevent him from facing Canelo Alvarez in September if that high-profile opportunity presents itself.
“I’m not sure [about surgery],” Plant said during a post-fight press conference. “I’ve gotta sit down and get it checked out, and we’ll see. But as of now, I’m not sure. I don’t think it’ll be anything crazy or hinder me, so I just have to get it checked out.”
Plant’s injury all but guaranteed that he won’t fight again while awaiting a showdown versus Alvarez. The Mexican superstar must win two upcoming bouts before Plant would find himself in position to battle boxing’s cash cow, but Plant would be the most appealing opponent for Alvarez thereafter because he would own the only 168-pound title Alvarez would need to become a fully unified champion in their division.
The 30-year-old Alvarez (54-1-2, 36 KOs) is scheduled to make a mandatory defense of his WBC super middleweight title against Avni Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs) on February 27 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami (DAZN). If the massively favored Alvarez defeats Turkey’s Yildirim, he’ll likely battle Billy Joe Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs) on May 1 or May 8 in a fight for Alvarez’s WBA and WBC crowns and the WBO belt England’s Saunders owns.
The 28-year-old Plant declined to discuss a potential Alvarez-Saunders fight following his easy victory over Minnesota’s Truax (31-5-2, 19 KOs, 1 NC).
“I’m not sure,” Plant replied when asked how an Alvarez-Saunders fight would unfold. “That’s for them to figure out. I’m worried about me and my team and what I have going on. And that’s their business, so when the bell rings, that’s for them to get in there, figure out and settle their differences. So, I don’t know.”
Plant, of Ashland City, Tennessee, knows that he expected more resistance from Truax, a 37-year-old former IBF super middleweight champ who entered their 12-round fight as a huge underdog. The younger, more athletic, skillful Plant won every round on each judge’s scorecard (120-108) and battled through a hand injury Plant believes occurred in the fourth or fifth round.
“Champions can adjust and get through anything,” Plant said. “So, it was just about staying focused and, you know, staying disciplined and sticking to the game plan and, like I said, it maybe hindered me here and there. But I still feel like I used it well and worked through it well, and I got a dominant victory, a shutout on all the cards.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.