There was little about the May 8 three-belt super middleweight unification bout that surprised Caleb Plant, right down to the party with whom he would enter negotiations for his own next fight.
Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez emerged victorious in his WBC/WBA/WBO super middleweight title fight versus previously unbeaten Billy Joe Saunders atop their DAZN-aired clash at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The three judges—Glenn Feldman (78-74), Max DeLuca (78-74) and Tim Cheatham (77-75)—all had Alvarez ahead at the time of the stoppage, all three scores in line with what took place in the ring prior to Saunders having to retire on his stool due to a fractured orbital bone suffered late in round eight.
“I wasn’t surprised that Canelo was able to stop him,” Plant told BoxingScene.com of his own fight night observation. “Had Billy won, I also wouldn’t have been super shocked as well.
“There were a lot of variables going into that fight and we saw several of them play out during the fight.”
Plant (21-0, 12KOs)—who holds the IBF super middleweight title—spent fight night back home in Ashland City, Tennessee, honoring the memory of his daughter Alia, who would have celebrated her 7th birthday the preceding Friday, along with celebrating Mother’s Day weekend with his family. The unbeaten titlist still had time to take in the fight, with plenty of motivation as he is expected to face Alvarez this coming September for the undisputed crown.
Through seven rounds, there stood a reasonable chance that a showdown with Saunders was very much on the table.
“I feel like Billy won the first round just based on activity,” noted Plant in breaking down the fight. “Canelo wasn’t doing much in that round but then he began to take over. Billy started settling in around the 6th round and found his rhythm. I thought he started dictating the pace until that 8th round.
“I had it 5-3 at the time of the stoppage. That was one round away from being even. Billy started to find some success until he ran into that shot. It wasn’t like Canelo was saying, “I’m gonna break his orbital bone with this shot.” It was a good counter, at the right place at that time and hit the right spot.”
It was enough to determine the outcome of the fight, with England’s Saunders understandably unable to continue.
Alvarez (56-1-2, 38KOs) has collected three of the four divisional titles, all within a five-month span.
The 31-year-old Mexican superstar claimed the WBA “Super” and vacant WBC title in a 12-round unanimous decision win over England’s Callum Smith, who was unbeaten prior to their two-belt title fight last December 19 at Alamodome in San Antonio. Alvarez then turned away WBC mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim, scoring a 3rd round stoppage in their February 27 main event at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami before facing and stopping Saunders this past May.
Plant is coming off of a 12-round shutout of former titlist Caleb Truax this past January in Los Angeles. The win marked his third successful title defense, coming on the heels of the two-year anniversary of his Jan. 2019 title-winning effort over Jose Uzcategui.
A showdown with Alvarez will produce—with a winner decided in such a contest—the first-ever undisputed super middleweight champion in either the three- or four-belt era. Official talks between parties have officially begun, with both sides doing their best to keep matters private as to avoid negotiating through the media.
“I’m sure we’ll get that set,” believes Plant. “All the details will be ironed out real soon.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox