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Is Canelo Stretching Himself Thin, Giving Caleb Plant An Opening For the Upset?

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My kids are counting down to Halloween, and last night, their mom got busy on Amazon, helping out on searches for costumes. Right now, the younger one is thinking she wants to be Dorothy, from “The Wizard of Oz,” while the older one is still mulling. They are thinking ahead, to the bounty of candy they’ll be snagging. For boxing fans, anticipation is in the air for what many folks are seeing as a juicy treat, the Nov. 6 showdown between the sport’s lead dog, Canelo Alvarez, and a young gun challenger, the feisty but relatively unproven Caleb Plant.

My anticipation meter got pretty nuclear when the two men’s passion spilled out on Sept. 21, and they engaged in an early tussle, which saw the Tennessee boxer Plant get the worst of it. We saw that, and wondered if Plant, age 29, might be wound too tight for this Canelo challenge.

Intensity is good, but an excess can leave a fighter tight and affect their execution. Is Caleb Plant wound too tight?

After all, Plant has not fought a murderers’ row of craftsmen and tradesmen since turning pro in May 2014.

Sure, his 21-0 record is gleaming. But leaning in and studying his level of competition dims my buzz a bit, because Porky Medina, Jose Uzcategui, Mike Lee, Vincent Feigenbutz and Caleb Truax, Plant’s last five foes, are a step or two down from where Canelo is.

The Mexican is operating on a really high plateau. He’s at his peak, probably, physically and mentally, and you can just….sense it.

Canelo Alvarez in his San Diego gym gets ready for a Nov. 6, 2021 fight against Caleb Plant.

Canelo Alvarez looks and acts like he cannot be beat. It doesn’t come off as cockiness, but rather supreme confidence.

His demeanor, aside from when he was ranting at Plant for his the “M” word, exudes chill. Not lackadaisical chill, but the sort of relaxed, composed, supremely confident vibe that signals Plant might not make it to the midway point of the battle to unfold at the MGM Grand in Vegas, and on Showtime PPV.

In asking around and talking to my friends who like to lay down a wager on a meaningful and compelling scrap like Canelo v Plant, I’m so far not hearing much in the way of enthusiasm for Plant’s chances to be the first guy to trouble Canelo Alvarez since Gennadiy Golovkin, in their second tango, on Sept. 16, 2018.

I am, however, seeing and hearing enthusiasm overall for the ramp up in sports betting, and of course boxing in particular. I’m aware that some friends in New York are pumped to know that Fanduel Sportsbook is now live in Connecticut. As they were expecting New York to be active well before CT launched, at least it’s a nearby state for online wagering. Buddies have been monitoring the news coming from Camp Canelo, and Team Sweet Hands, looking for possible tells, about each man’s frame of mind. I expect those pals to place the new Fanduel option at the top of their bookmarks on their laptop.

Do any of you get the sense that you’ll take a flyer on Plant to gain the upset triumph because, just maybe, Canelo is spreading himself a bit thin? Maybe you saw the pound for pound ace on ABC’s “Nightline?”

The red-head talked about how as a youth he had to deal with wise cracks for his red hair; his 2013 loss to Floyd Mayweather (“I was 23 years old. It was a very big learning experience for my career at the time. I learned a huge thing, that is I don’t want to feel the same feeling again, the defeat”) and how he’s changing in terms of seeing a bigger picture. Canelo told Nightline that he feels the time is right for him to step it up, and have a hand in some issues in the social justice realm.

I saw a boss at ease, someone at the top of his game, who seems exceedingly well grounded, to be frank. Maybe some interpreted the Nightline hit and Canelo’s upped activity in overseeing parts of his growing empire differently, as a weakness to exploit for Plant.

Canelo Alvarez speaks to Nightline from his gym in San Diego.

Know this, “Nightline” does a boxing segment like this very, very rarely. This hit is an indication of the strength of the Canelo brand.

I will say this, I am intrigued by the intensity I see in Plant, he comes off as a man possessed, in a good way, with downing Canelo.

Whatever the outcome, I hope first and foremost that we get a solid battle November 6, that Plant isn’t affected by the enormity of the stage and stakes, and that he’s the best version of himself versus Canelo. It will be a neat trick if Plant pulls that off, grabs the upset victory, and oh yes, the inevitable rematch would present itself as a viewing treat to behold.

Editor/publisher Michael Woods became addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the fearsome Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist Woods has covered the sport since then, for ESPN The Magazine, ESPN.com, ESPN New York, RING, and he was editor of TheSweetScience.com from 2007-2015. Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and numerous other organizations.

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