Jab Hook's Foreword on the Match Ups – Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles, January 13th, 2019: (Fox Sports 1/Fox Deportes): Jose “Bolivita” Uzcategui 28(23)-2 vs. Caleb “Sweethands” Plant 17(10)-0, fighting 12 rounds for Uzcategui's IBF super middleweight title. When James DeGale vacated the title on July 4th 2018 and the IBF simply upgraded Jose Uzcategui from “interim” to “Champ” and handed him the belt, many fans and aficionados shook their heads. But now we can witness his 1st defense against the IBF's #2 Caleb Plant.
Do you remember the first Uzcategui vs Dirrell fight that was mismanaged by referee Bill Clancy in May 2017? It was a fiasco resulting in a wrongful disqualification (DQ) for Uzcategui for a late punch off a combination on the bell. Things got out of control in the ring afterwards as Dirrell's Uncle Leon Lawson Jr. assaulted Uzcategui with a cowardly sucker-punch, soon after fleeing the scene. He later turned himself in and was arrested for felony assault, later reduced to a single count of misdemeanor assault. Lawson Jr has appropriately been banned from the ring. In March 2018 Uzcategui dominated the rematch, shaming Dirrell by making him quit before the 8th round.
But Caleb Plant is no slouch, this dude can box! (Careful fans, don't confuse him with Caleb Truax.) The American won the National GoldenGloves Championship at light heavyweight in 2011 and was a 2012 Olympic alternate. Turning pro in 2014 at super middleweight, he's still undefeated, though has yet to face top opposition. His last bout was a dominant decision over Rogelio Medina in February 2018. Weeks later he fractured his left hand in sparring (classic “boxer's fracture” of 5th metacarpal) with a hook that landed on an elbow, ouch! After surgical repair and rehabilitation, “Sweethands” has been nearly a year out of the ring. What a time step back into the ring against his best opponent ever. Most boxing insiders would say a warm-up bout to test the hand and refresh the timing is the next best move, but opportunity calls now. Two and a half years since his last KO victory, Plant is taking a big step up versus Uzcategui. This match up will calibrate Plant's true level of skill as he faces this world class opponent from Venezuela.
Jose Uzcategui is a rangy super middleweight with an impressive reach of 76.5 inches (194 cm). The 28 year old is very athletic and always in shape, he fights aggressively and technically at the same time. A well-schooled boxer with a tight defense, he has heavy hands. “Bolivita” was 22-0 in June 2014 when his only real loss came at the hand of the great Russian amateur Matt Korobov, who recently taught Jermall Charlo a thing or two in the ring. Uzcategui came back strongly from the Korobov defeat stopping his next two opponents, including a 2nd round blow out of the undefeated prospect Julius Jackson in 2015. Julius is the son of Julian Jackson, the three time world champion with the legendary punching power. Excluding the DQ, Uzcategui has continued to develop and improve in his career, stopping 5 of his last 7 opponents. Now ranked as the #3 super middleweight by Ring, and defending a fresh IBF belt, Jose “Bolivita” Uzcategui is coming into his own as a boxer. How far can he go? How will he do against the hungry, undefeated 26 year old prospect Caleb Plant?
Check NYFights.com later this week for Jab Hook's predictions on the bouts from the Microsoft Theater, Los Angeles, January 13th, 2019 on Fox Sports.
“Jab Hook”, aka “Brooklyn” Joe Healy is a boxing expert commentator for DAZN.de, a professional cutman from the BOXWERK gym, and a licensed referee/judge in amateur boxing. A lifelong aficionado born in Brooklyn and living in Munich, “The Sweet Science” is his passion. Please feel free to contact him as Jab Hook on FaceBook, at [email protected], or on Twitter https://twitter.com/BoxAficionado