I Now See Caleb Plant In A Different Light
Caleb Plant had a hard road to travel growing up, and beyond. Fate had thrown some nasty tests at him, and by and large, he did well to navigate the hard stuff.
Like many of you all who have seen his arc play out on the public side, I was aware of the beyond-sad situation with his daughter, Alia. I had mixed emotions when this story first came to my attention. Time has passed since that story posted, and my view of Plant has evolved.
You might have noticed, the Tennessee native does tend to get into pre-fight beefs with his foes. There’s something about his intensity, his pride and honor. And, perhaps, latent hostility at the lack of “fairness” of it all, which has given off a vibe that gets responded to. Now, with more time spent mulling that certainty, that when you make plans, God chuckles, and the concept of “fairness” to us humans, I see Plant differently.
When I look on his IG page and see video of him feeding his new baby, born to wife Jordan in August of 2022, I smile. The notion of Plant as a cold and cocky gunslinger fades away, and I see myself in the man. I’ve spent time feeding my babies, who are now almost 16 and 12. And thank heavens, I’ve not had to contend with the unimaginable horror of seeing my child pass away, as Plant did in 2015.
The time passing has humbled me some. These days, I’d not be as prone to “weigh in,” and to pass judgement on a Plant in context of how he handled grieving the loss of his baby. Sorrow mixed with anger is I think a strong intoxicant, and I can’t fathom the potency of the emotional cocktail that Caleb had to handle.
Caleb Plant did a hit on “The Pivot Podcast.” Co-hosts Ryan Clark, Channing Crowder and Fred Taylor delved into the Plant-Benavidez scrap and some of the backstories in play leading up to the collision, which I will watch on PPV.com.
Plant explained he took umbrage at comments from Jose Benavidez Sr, the father of David Benavidez.
“Boxing is not a job for me,” said Plant on the podcast. “Boxing is my life. I’m not trying to let anyone disrupt that or get in the way of that. So it is personal for me…As far as David Benavidez, that started out as us agreeing to disagree about who’s better. Over time I think it’s developed into something more…Once you start bringing up someone’s family, that’s a different level…Some things you don’t come back from and for me that’s not reversible.”
Alia died at just 19 months old in 2015. The fighter said when he won a title belt in 2019, it hit hard, because he was fulfilling a promise made to daughter.
“When they announce those words ‘and the new’, it’s something that any kid who’s ever halfway laced up a pair of boxing gloves dreams of one day…Me keeping that promise to Alia that I was going to be world champion, was something that was engraved in me. It didn’t matter who stood across from me that night, there was no one who was beating me.”
Benavidez and company are not in a place where they are inclined to give any benefit of doubt to Plant. Yep, some of the rhetoric has been rough-edged. Was Benavidez Sr looking to get under the skin of the Tennessee fighter when referring to this story, and stating aloud to the public his belief that it painted Plant in a bad light? Yes. And the boxer seems aware of that fact, though we cannot know how hard he has to work to understand that Benavidez Sr is working an angle.
“I don’t go in there emotionally,” said Caleb Plant. “Seeing Alia go through those things definitely motivated me. I knew that I could do anything after seeing what she went through. You can’t go into the ring emotionally though, it’s a thinking man’s game. I’m a thinking fighter. I have a heavy IQ and a heavy bag of tricks…Over the years I learned how to channel my emotions and go into the ring calm, cool and collected. They want you to get riled up and tense. Why else does anyone talk shit? To try and get them out of their game. So if I know that’s the reason, why would I give them what they want? Because if I stay calm and stay cool, I can prove that stereotype wrong.”
Beyond time allowing me to see this story differently, there’s something else. Plant has been one of the guys to step forward and be different. He’s agitated for the big fights, and not just the ones that are a lottery ticket. He could have zigged and zagged and avoided this bout with David Benavidez. But he’s being a role model these days, in seeking out one of those stern tests which us boxing fans need more of. We are beyond tired of the machinations which occur that keep the sport lumped in with horse racing when discussions are held about dying sports. Plant has been talking, and crucially, walking the walk. The Terence Crawford-Errol Spence years-long flirtation and lack of consummation did more damage to the game than most understand. Hardcores have been drifting away. Can’t blame them, either.
Yes, I’ve come around on Caleb Plant. He’s dealt with the thunderbolts tossed at him imperfectly; well, that’s a big club he’s in. I’m in there with him. So, this story is to me history. Regarding Caleb Plant, I look forward. And I very much look forward to the face-off between him and Benavidez. May the best man win.