Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (56-1-2, 38 KO’s) will face off against Caleb Plant (21-0, 12 KO’s) this Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, NV in a 168 pound title unification bout. Alvarez holds three of the four belts in the division (WBC, WBA and WBO) with the IBF portion belonging to Plant. The bout will headline a Showtime PPV event.
As of this writing Barstool Sportsbook lists Alvarez as a sizable -1115 favorite whereas Plant can be had at the underdog price tag of +650.
The over/under is currently at 9.5 rounds with the over getting a little more steam coming in at -125 and the under sitting at -106.
If anyone has read any of my previous betting articles then, well, you know I like a good underdog play as much as anyone. However, in this fight I simply cannot endorse a play on Plant.
Plant is a solid all around fighter. His best asset is his hand speed. His second best asset has been the management behind him in his career. They have put slower opponents in front of him, particularly during his title run, and allowed Plant to simply overwhelm them with the vast hand speed edge he enjoyed in those contests.
The problem here for Plant is Alvarez actually has the faster hands. So Plant’s best asset is nullified. And there are other problems.
Probably the other most glaring issue for Plant is that he is not a heavy handed hitter. In order for anyone to slow the attack of Alvarez they need to get his respect. And what I mean is that they have to carry enough power in their punches to make Alvarez think twice about opening up in fear of eating something in return. I do not see Alvarez fearing anything that Plant throws at him and thus there will be no way for Plant to make Alvarez think twice about opening up. This will be VERY problematic for Plant.
I think the odds makers actually have this mispriced and Alvarez should be closer to a -2500 favorite. Aside from something really unusual happening I don’t give Plant much of a chance of really even being remotely competitive on Saturday.
As a rule, though, in combat sports (because well as we all know unusual and unexpected things do happen) I don’t lay any money on a favorite of -1000 or more. But I also obviously will not be wagering on Plant. So how am I wagering this fight? Well, the only way to do so is to look in the prop market.
Let me start with this. Here are all of Canelo’s results post the majority decision loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. which took place in September of 2013. The only blemish for Canelo since his loss to Mayweather was the draw against Gennadiy Golovkin in September of 2017.
Alfredo Angulo TKO 10 (stopped standing by the referee)
Erislandy Lara SD 12
James Kirkland KO 3
Miguel Cotto UD 12
Amir Khan KO 6
Liam Smith KO 9
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. UD 12
Gennadiy Golovkin SD 12 (this was a split draw)
Gennadiy Golovkin MD 12
Rocky Fielding TKO 3
Daniel Jacobs UD 12
Sergey Kovalev KO 11
Callum Smith UD 12
Avni Yildirim RTD 3
Billy Joe Saunders RTD 8
There are 15 fights listed here. Of the 15 fights 7 went the full 12 rounds. Let’s look closer at the 8 that did not go the distance.
Rocky Fielding and Avni Yildirim were clearly way overmatched. James Kirkland basically went for broke early.
He also was on the downside of his career when he faced Canelo.
Amir Khan has always been chinny and was way outsized by Canelo.
And though he is a solid fighter (and better than Fielding or Yildrim) Liam Smith was a few classes below the skill level of Canelo.
On paper, these five opponents Canelo should have knocked out. And he did.
Alfredo Angulo is a tough guy with a reputation for a big punch. Canelo took his time and though never in danger never really stepped it up to go for the finish. Why? Because of Angulo’s reputation as a massive puncher. In the end the fight was stopped with Angulo on his feet with the referee using his judgement that Angulo had taken too much punishment.
Sergey Kovalev gave Canelo a tougher than expected fight but has always had stamina issues throughout his career. Kovalev was also just off a tough fight three months earlier and his wilting down the stretch was not a shock to anyone.
And finally Billy Joe Saunders. Canelo did not have an easy time of it in the early going but was starting to take control in the middle rounds. A clean punch injured the eye of Saunders in round eight and a decision was made for him not to answer the bell for round nine.
So here is my point. When Canelo faces world champion level fighters who are not undersized or totally shot those fights tend to go rounds. Even when Canelo has gotten the stoppage against such fighters there has been some sort underlying circumstance (early stoppage, fighter gassing out or injury) for him to get the win inside the distance.
As I stated earlier Plant is a solid fighter. Of the list of 15 above I would say he fits in somewhere between Daniel Jacobs and Callum Smith. Plant is certainly well above the levels of Avni Yildrim and Rocky Fielding. He is no Amir Khan as this is Plant’s natural weight class. Plant is also in the prime of his career and not on a downward slope like Angulo or Kirkland were when they stepped in the ring with Canelo.
This fight in my opinion will play out similar to what we saw last December when Callum Smith faced off against Canelo. Smith went into a defensive shell with a clear focus on going the distance. Maybe Plant is a tad more aggressive but ultimately I see him playing more defense than offense. Canelo will take what is given and not take any unnecessary risks as he did against Smith.
Canelo to win by points after 12 is currently +220 and that is my one and only wager. I wouldn’t fault you though if you wanted to take a more conservative outlook and bet the over at 9.5 rounds. I just sense this is going the distance and don’t see any way that Canelo’s hand is not raised in victory on Saturday.