Don't ever doubt Mike Tyson.
The former heavyweight champion gave David Benavidez his moniker “The Mexican Monster,” calling him his favorite active fighter.
With monster power punching, Benavidez of Phoenix (27-0, 23 KOs) overcame a strong start for Plant of Las Vegas (22-2, 13 KOs), winning rounds six through 12 on all three judges' scorecards to seal the victory by decision. Scores were 117-111, 116-112, and 115-113.
“The fight lived up to what it was supposed to. Caleb Plant and I behaved like warriors in the ring, and we've buried the beef,” said Benavidez at the post-fight news conference. “When I got the engine going, there was no turning back.”
Benavidez Offensive Assault Overtakes Plant Early Lead
The fight narrative was predictable but still thrilling to watch unfold. As anticipated, Plant controlled the early action with his calculated, tactical approach. Benavidez let Plant direct the action with a watchful, patient eye. It was too patient for the raucous crowd in Las Vegas, fired up by a slew of all-action undercard fights.
In the third round with his confidence building, Plant grew more aggressive. Benavidez was waiting for him. The power shots came out to play as Benavidez began to pressure Plant back. Plant used the large 22-foot ring to his advantage, picking his shots, then retreating. This was far more to the crowd's liking and Benavidez's best early round.
Plant kept his cool, jabbing and rolling up rounds. Watching his typical approach unfold is nerve-wracking if you're a Benavidez fan.
“It's a 12-round fight, you gotta start slow. But when I found my groove, nothing could stop me,” said Benavidez. “I told you I was going to put a beating on Caleb Plant, and that's why I did.”
Benavidez said he wasn't concerned about being behind on the scorecards early. “No, no, I know how to take it step by step. Caleb Plant is a tough fighter. He's not going to give you everything in the first couple rounds.” Benavidez said he was pleased he could show defense and movement along with power punching.
Benavidez came to life starting in the fourth and again in the fifth round. Plant showed off to the crowd, taunting Benavidez with the Lomachenko-style matador motion as if showing the cape to the bull. Bad idea. As they moved back into the center, Benavidez scored with left hooks, backing Plant up to the corner.
“It's fine, it's fine. Let's start using a little more pressure. More jabs. Jabs also to the chest. Be efficient,” father and trainer Jose Benavidez Sr. told his fighter.
In Plant's corner, Stephen “Breadman” Edwards advised, “Don't stop feinting him. He's starting to get tired.” This was wishful thinking.
Benavidez Gets Down To The Beatdown
In the sixth, Benavidez got down to work. He revved up his work rate, beginning to land single solid shots to the body and head. It was the turning point in the fight with no looking back.
While still competitive, Plant's energy waned as Benavidez hit his stride. Benavidez chopped away, with Plant trying to avoid the power shots.
Fully fired up, Benavidez landed a hard left to seriously rock Plant for the first time. Bayliss stopped the action to allow the ringside physician to look over Plant due to an accidental headbutt. It was nearly a criminal gift of time to Plant.
But the momentum had shifted for good. Benavidez put his pugilistic hard hat on, putting the hammer down.
The overhand right for Benavidez and straight lefts would have dropped most other opponents. With the infuriating intervention from Bayliss, instead of letting Plant handle his own defensive business, Plant managed to hang on. In the championship rounds ten through 12, it was the one-way traffic beatdown Benavidez had promised in the lead-up to the fight.
Benavidez landed 210 of 551 punches thrown (38%) against 91 of 624 for Plant (15%). Benavidez landed more jabs (30 to 23), and nearly triple the power punches – 180 for Benavidez against just 68 for Plant, a 43% power punching connect rate.
Trainer Edwards threatened Plant twice that he would stop the fight, but in the end, he let Plant see the final bell fight on his feet. Although the fighters said they would not embrace after the bout, at the bell the respect for one man to another for giving it all in the ring overcame the bad blook before the fight.
Credit Plant for toughness. He stood up to Benavidez with tremendous determination.
“David is a hell of a fighter,” said Plant. “It's a big rivalry. But that's what boxing is about. I take nothing from David. You know, we haven't been the best of friends. But we got in the ring. And we settled it like men, that's what we're that's what you're supposed to do.”
Plant: ‘I've rumbled with the best of them'
Plant said his game plan unfolded as planned, walking down Benavidez and clinching when necessary. “But when the best get in there with the best and you roll the dice, somebody's gonna come out with their hand raised, and somebody's gonna come up short. And one thing I pat myself on the back for, I got in there and I've rumbled with the best of them in the world. I haven't ducked nobody. And you know, maybe we will have a rematch in the future,” said Plant.
“I'm happy to give these kind of fights to the people, the fans they enjoy. I'm willing to put my body on the line when the fans feel like that,” said Benavidez.
Benavidez said he would have liked to get a knockout victory, but while being careful to avoid outright criticism of referee Kenny Bayliss, Benavidez said the constant intervention while the action was unfolding made it nearly impossible.
Benavidez now hopes to face the unified champion in the super middleweight division, Canelo Alvarez. “I have a lot of respect for Canelo Alvarez. But he has to give me that shot now. That's what everybody wants to see me versus Canelo. Let's make it happen in September.” NY Fights says Orale!