Boxing is the best sporting metaphor for life, and that hard to deny contention is bolstered when one sees an athlete like Caleb Plant tasting a massive high, winning a world title after life has thrown a steady stream of combinations at him, since his early days.
Plant, a Tennessee native, grew up in humble circumstances, where food sometimes was in short supply. His path didn't clear out and allow for a smooth sail as an adult. In 2015, his daughter Alia, was born with a genetic defect, and in January 2015, she died.
Alia, who'd battled through days when she had multiple seizures daily, was 19 months old, and the then-22 year old Plant found some solace in the ring. While boxing, Plant felt he could control destiny, to an extent, and that was no small consolation after he and his wife were stuck by the passing of their daughter. Coming in to his Sunday night scrap with Jose Uzcategui, who held the IBF 168 pound crown, some fight fans noted that Plant showed a certain demeanor leading in to the faceoff. It's like he KNEW that no matter what the Venezuelan brough to the table, he'd have an answer for it.
Plant had his hand raised Sunday in LA, and even Uzcategui fans had to be slightly happy for the guy who'd tasted such heart-break.
So, anyway, we asked the NYFights Squad their thoughts, and Who Won the Weekend in their eyes and minds, with the sneaking suspicion that one and all would pick Plant.
Have at it, NYF Squad:
“Sometimes fighters wear helmets. The NFL Playoffs dominated the sports lexicon and there's no way the New England Patriots didn't win the weekend. So many so-called experts had them losing last weekend — let alone this past one; but what stood out to me in Foxboro on Sunday was how Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and a much maligned Pats team took the fight to the Los Angeles Chargers from the opening bell,” said John Gatling, insuring a couple Twitter counter-punches from Bill Belichick haters.
“Just as he did with the fight, I have to believe Caleb Plant wins the weekend by unanimous decision,” said Abe Gonzalez, who was on site in Los Angeles watching the Plant victory. “As I look back prior to the fight, I think about things like the weigh-in, where Plant never stopped looking at Uzcategui when asked to turn for photos. As I was recording on the @NYFights Instagram page, I saw a laser-focused Plant waiting to claim what he felt belonged to him. That level of focus played out in the ring and added to the aggression he showed throughout the fight. What a personal and professional win Sunday night!”
“Gotta be Caleb Plant,” said David Phillips, “who put the very tough Jose Uzcategui on his backside twice en route to winning a clear UD and taking the IBF super middleweight title. Not only did he win the title in convincing fashion, he did so despite an 11 month layoff from a broken hand, and after suffering a cut over his eye in the 4th round. Plant has one hell of a personal story – losing his daughter to a rare disease after only 19 months – and his emotional post-fight interview reveals a man whose heart is not far from his sleeve. He's going to be an easy guy to root for.”
“Je suis d'accord David! Right on brother and well stated. “Sweethands” put on a boxing clinic,” said Jab Hook Joe Healy.
“Plant won the weekend,” said Kelsey McCarson. “He's an excellent boxer with a tragically beautiful story. Life is full of little miseries and heartbreaks, but people like Plant don't let those things keep him from experiencing the amazing joys there are to behold also. He shines a light for the rest of us in that regard.”
Colin Morrison weighed in: “It has to be Caleb Plant. The American boxed superbly, planting (sorry couldn't resist) title holder Jose Uzcategui on his ass twice, en route to taking the IBF 168lb belt from the Venezuelan. To cap a memorable night for Plant his post fight proposal was accepted by his girlfriend. Congratulations to the new champion.”
What say you, Tom Penney? “I mean, it's Caleb Plant, right? In the one truly competitive fight for the entire weekend, Plant showed his class and his ability to run Jose Uzcategui into shots while flashing some power as well. Uzcategui appeared handcuffed by Plant's speed and sharp punching, and I was specifically impressed with the way Plant would arrest his momentum just at the moments Uzcategui was leaning forward. This forced the bigger puncher into some shots but it also caused him to second guess everything he was doing. By the time his pressure started wearing on Caleb, it was much too late for it to matter. Plant is an easy guy to like, as David mentioned, if not for his emotional backstory then for his slick style that emphasizes speed and timing.”
“Caleb Plant – What a story, what a performance,” said Chris Glover. “I couldn’t be happier to see him succeed in what was a fantastic boxing display against a very good champion. Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it brings comfort. Let’s hope that Plant gets some big pay days and earns some good money going forward as he deserves it.”
“Has to be Plant surely? 2Pac once penned a poem titled “The Rose that Grew from Concrete.” A little shuffle of words here and there and one will find that title is equally fitting to Caleb – the Plant that Grew from Concrete. Nobody had seen Plant really tested,” said Hamza Ahmed. “We'd heard some things, seen some things, witnessed his style but nobody knew what was within. Turned out to be a concrete resolve amidst cuts, fatigue and a class operator in Uzcategui. Closing in as a betting undercard and after years of soul searching and personal heartache, Plant made it count. Finally, for himself, his family and for the memory of his daughter, he can call himself a world champion now. Oh and topping the successful victory with a proposal to girlfriend and PBC anchor Jordan Hardy showed Plant is as sweet with engagement rings as he is with boxing gloves on his hands. Here's to the happy couple.”
“Spare a thought for Uzcategui too. It takes two to tango and whilst we're lavishing praise upon Plant for the excellent win, Uzcategui refused to hand the title over without a fight. He was game, relentless and was stalking with a scythe once he'd recovered from the initial shock of the early knockdowns. He tried to make it count in the end and unfortunately for “Bolivita,” it wasn't meant to be his night. I do think following some technical tweaks and adjustments, he can come back a better fighter. It's only in a sport as beautiful as ours where two men from vastly different backgrounds share eerily similar paths – both suffered tragedy in their lives, both were seen as hidden gems until they made it count, both possess extremely likeable personalities, both have touched world champions and both combined to kick off the PBC on FOX series in exhilarating fashion.”
Note: I am going with Plant for Who Won the Weekend. But I want to share some credit and also laud Uzcategui. He showed mettle in soldiering on after being knocked down twice by Plant and he also can serve as evidence of boxing being the best metaphor for life. As a teen father, Uzcategui also dealt with the ultra severe sadness when his infant daughter died while he was training to make the Olympics.
Bravo to both men, for being solid role models for all persons who feel fatigued by trying to get through the obstacle course of life.