If the action in the super middleweight showdown between Caleb Plant and David Benavidez set for Saturday, March 25, in Las Vegas lives up to a fraction of the trash talk, we're in for a damn good time.
Benavidez (26-0, 23 KOs), age 25, began sparring with world-class fighters at age 15, becoming the youngest 168-pound world champion at age 20 in 2017. Poor choices (i.e., drugs and weight issues) cost him that title. Benavidez has climbed back, seeking full redemption through this matchup.
Plant (22-1, 13 KOs), age 30, bounced back from his single loss to Canelo Alvarez in 2022 with a one-punch knockout win over Anthony Dirrell to earn his shot at Benavidez. Plant's hard times have made him even more compelling in the ring.
Now the Phoenix native and the Nashville native, who both call Las Vegas their home base, will settle a grudge match building for years in a matter of days. The fight for the interim WBC World Super Middleweight title airs on Showtime PPV (9 p.m. ET /6 p.m. PT), priced at $74.99.
A True 50-50 Fight
Authentic 50-50 fights at the top levels don't always materialize. This bout is one of the rarities. Fueled by significant quality, hate between the pair and the resulting trash talk help raise the entertainment factor and anticipation.
Oddsmakers and most of the boxing community with a pulse have offered their opinions. Benavidez is the slight betting favorite. Among the fighters who've weighed in,
Shawn Porter, Jermell Charlo, and George Kambosos are #TeamPlant, while Brandon Figueroa, Amanda Serrano, Rey Vargas, Yordenis Ugas, and Andy Ruiz Jr. are #TeamBenavidez.
We're in on the prediction action at NY Fights. What can you expect to see if you put down your dough on Saturday? Our team renders its expert opinions with help from knowledgeable special guests.
Lucas Katelle, writer: “I got David. It feels like it is his time, plus I think his camp has a lot of momentum.” Benavidez wins.
Colin Morrison, writer: “Great matchup, but to my eye Benavidez is just better. I expect Plant to box well early, perhaps taking the lead on the cards, but as the fight goes along Benavidez should begin to take over with his fast, skillful combinations. Will he be able to force the stoppage? I think so! Benavidez by 11th round TKO.”
Tommy Rainone, writer: “Intriguing fight which I expect to be very competitive, especially over the first six rounds. There is a big style contrast here, with Plant being a good moving boxer and counterpuncher and Benavidez the stalking his prey power puncher who applies relentless pressure. This fight comes down to which fighter can implement their style while staying focused throughout the duration of the fight. I see Plant starting quickly and putting some rounds in the bank with constant movement and a steady jab on a come-forward Benavidez who has some trouble tracking down his opponent. Throughout the first half of the fight, I see an even affair with Plant potentially being up on the cards, but the real fight will begin in round 7. If Plant's stamina holds up, he is very capable of boxing to a 12-round decision, but he has shown second-half stamina issues in the past with lesser-caliber fighters. Benavidez is the bigger, stronger, and younger fighter, and eventually, Plant will have to mix in some toe to toe fighting, and this will be when he unravels. He may win a few of these “Mano a mano” exchanges, but that will be playing into Benavidez's hands and help deplete Plant. I'm picking him up by late stoppage between rounds 7 – 11. The size and pressure of Benavidez will ultimately prove too much over a very courageous Plant who doesn't make it to the finish line.” Benavidez by late stoppage.
David E. Phillips, writer: “Good god. How can anyone know anything anymore as it relates to two presumably high-quality fighters who have seldom been tested? Plant, and by some distance, has been in the ring with tougher comp (his one loss against Canelo was certainly not shameful). With Canelo coming back to Super Middleweight the call out for him to fight Benavidez will be strong if Benavidez takes down Plant. It will be the Mexican American fighter's chance to prove he deserves a shot against Canelo. It feels close to a toss-up, but I'm going with Benavidez's power over Plant's experience. Benavidez by TKO in the tenth.”
Jacob Rodriguez, writer: “Plant vs. Benavidez is going to be a close fight initially. Physically, Benavidez has a slight one-inch height advantage and a half-inch reach edge over Plant. However, this will not affect Caleb Plant. Plant's footwork and boxing skills will initially make things difficult for David. However, I believe David will adjust, close the gap, and apply his pressure style of fighting against the Tennessee native. Caleb Plant doesn't have the firepower in his punches to ward off Benavidez's constant battering. Benavidez punches to the body well, and I expect him to attack Plant's body to slow his movement and set up a powerful combination that will knock out Caleb. Caleb will give a valiant effort but ultimately succumb to Benavidez's pressure—fighting style. David Benavidez wins by KO in the 10 -12 rounds.”
Matthew Aguilar: “Don't underestimate the experience Plant gained in going 11 tough rounds with Canelo. It's elite experience that Benavidez doesn't have. The question is whether Caleb can survive David's punch. The guess is that, eventually, Benavidez will hit the mark. But he may be behind on points when he does. Benavidez by 11th round TKO.”
Michael Montero, Montero on Boxing: “Neither of these fighters has a strong resume, but Plant's is definitely better. The Nashville native gained invaluable experience over his 11 rounds with Canelo. At least early on, I believe that experience will serve him well against Benavidez. The X-Factor here is physicality. Despite his lackluster resume, Benavidez is the younger, larger, stronger fighter – and he's a volume puncher. Plant will build an early lead on the cards with his superior boxing skills and athleticism, but his stamina issues and lack of power will cost him late. I think Benavidez will score a late knockdown or two to win a razor-close (possibly controversial) decision or perhaps a late stoppage.”
Matt Pomara, writer: “This is an exciting matchup with the classic boxing narrative of “styles make fights”. Add in the genuine mutual bad blood between both combatants and throw in the potential to be a proper dustup or an unmitigated blowout and you have the long wanted classic prize fight that boxing desperately needs! Both Benavidez and Plant have contrasting styles that are tailor maid for each other. Benavidez’s strengths play to Plant’s weakness and vice versa making this such a pick ‘im fight! Plant will keep Benavidez at a distance in the beginning but will eventually succumb to the volume punching and charging style you would expect. In the end Benavidez will outwork and eventually overwhelm Plant’s porous defense. Benavidez by late round KO.”
Marquis Johns, writer: “This weekend, we got a fun and long-anticipated matchup between David Benavidez and Caleb Plant. Conventional wisdom tells me to go with the faster, younger Benavidez. My boxing logic tells me that Caleb Plant will dictate the pace of this fight off the jab for twelve somewhat tactical rounds. My logic hasn't failed me in 2023 yet — Plant by decision.”
Phillips to Johns: “It's early in 2023, Marquis!”
Ryan O'Hara, writer: “Plant by split decision. I think Plant will outbox Benavidez. David is a ferocious puncher, but Caleb is smarter, and I believe he has learned a lot from the loss to Canelo. The reason I say split is because of the judges. This is a mesh of styles and a bad stylistic matchup for David. Could be wrong! Can't wait to see the fight.”
Ernie Green, boxing journalist / Founder of #TheChat: “Plant is a huge step up for Benavidez, and he's not going to stand there and let Benavidez punch him in the face repeatedly like his other opponents. His movement had given Canelo difficulty for most of the fight, so imagine what it would do for someone far less experienced.
Plant looked much improved in his last fight under the tutelage of Breadman Edwards, and I expect that to happen again. Plant wins by easy decision over an outmanned Benavidez.”
Michael Woods, Founder and Editor: “David Benavidez has not battled a murderers' row of opposition to get here. That's no slap, it's the way of the world oftentimes in this era. Matchmaking is done with brutal efficiency–and sometimes that efficiency pays a negative dividend. Point being, Caleb Plant is a step above anyone else who has stepped in with the hard-hitting Arizona native. 2022 David Lemieux didn't give Benavidez a sense of the ring generalship he will deal with on Saturday. Plant, UD.”
The score: #TeamBenavidez 7, #TeamPlant 4
Final Falkentalk: While the level of competition for both men is meager other than Plant's loss to Canelo Alvarez, Benavidez's long apprenticeship as a sparring partner for the top talents while he was still a teenager is boxing's equivalent of an Ivy League degree. While not every impressive grad goes on to greatness, Benavidez lets his fists do the talking in a way Plant can't muster. The only way Plant wins is to stay out of range and make the fight a tactical one. Given the high level of vitriol between them, I don't see it possible. Benavidez wants to deliver a beatdown, and he can do it if he doesn't see roja and let his anger make him careless. It's a late-round beating by Benavidez, stopped by the referee (or even the corner), setting up a delicious Mexican matchup between Benavidez and Canelo Alvarez for all the glory.
Let the record show in our results from the previous prediction panel for Paul vs. Fury, only Woodsy called the fight correctly for Tommy Fury, other than Fury's father, John, and his brother Tyson.