Undisputed status is up for grabs in Las Vegas tonight with all four super-middleweight world titles on the line at the iconic MGM Grand Garden Arena on the Strip.
Boxing’s biggest superstar and pound-for-pound no1 Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez is the overwhelming favourite to become just the sixth male fighter since 1988 to hold all four major belts in the same division.
The Mexican four-weight world champion has been in possession of the WBA and WBC belts since beating Callum Smith last December, while he added the WBO version with a brutal win over Billy Joe Saunders back in May.
Now all that remains is the IBF strap that has belonged to Caleb Plant since 2019, successfully defended on three occasions.
The American is a huge underdog in his quest to inflict just a second career defeat on the great Canelo, though he does not lack confidence and got under his rival’s skin during a fiery build-up to tonight’s showdown.
Elsewhere on Saturday’s main card, Anthony Dirrell takes on Marcos Hernandez, while Rey Vargas meets Leonardo Baez and Elvis Rodriguez battles Juan Pablo Romero.
Boxing schedule and results
Canelo Alvarez vs Caleb Plant
Anthony Dirrell vs Marcos Hernandez
Rey Vargas vs Leonardo Baez
Elvis Rodriguez vs Juan Pablo Romero
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Plant: I like people rooting against me
Here’s more from Caleb Plant ahead of a chance to write his name into boxing folklore tonight…
“I have to get the job done by any means necessary,” he said. “That’s what me and my team have done so far to get to this point.
“Whether it’s boxing or in life, I’ve gotten here by any means necessary. I had opportunities to bow out, and I haven’t.
“I’ve been the underdog before. It’s a place I like to be. I like people rooting against me. It gives me extra motivation. But when you’re fighting for undisputed status, you don’t need much more motivation than that.”
Hearn sends Canelo message
Ward: Plant can shock the world tonight
There are those, however, that believe Plant is capable of producing the sort of incredible, career-best performance that it will almost certainly take to emerge victorious tonight and walk away with all four super-middleweight titles.
Former two-weight world champion Andre Ward is one such man.
“I’m not a believer when you face a guy that’s powerful or a guy that’s supposed to have punching power you’re [supposed to] avoid him and being perfect for 12,” he said.
“Like, I don’t believe in that. Like, I like to go rattle their cage. In fact, you gotta rattle the cage.
“What I mean by that is that sometimes you gotta go to that power and smother it.
“You gotta let them know, whoever it is, hey, you can get hurt, too.
“Caleb is a guy that has more power than they realise.
“I think he’s physically strong. I just think it’s always crazy until you do it. It’s easy for fans to choose – the easy pick is Canelo because of his history and everything he accomplished.
“But I’ll support Caleb, win, lose, or draw. But I think he has a great opportunity to go out there and shock the world. He just needs to put his mental on and make it happen.”
Saunders backing former foe Canelo
Most in the boxing fraternity are obviously plumping for a comfortable Canelo win tonight.
That number includes the Mexican’s previous opponent Saunders…
“I’m gonna go with Canelo on points because of the reason of being Canelo,” he said this week.
“I know how hard it is to get a decision, what tricks they might play leading up.”
Undercard results: Velazquez dominates Mendoza
It’s a comfortable win for 2016 Olympian Joselito Velazquez, who beats Gilberto Mendoza in an eight-rounder with three cards of 80-72 in his favour.
A dominant 14th professional triumph for talented flyweight ‘El Huracan’.
Tyson predicts emphatic Canelo win
Mike Tyson was present at the weigh-in in Vegas last night and met Canelo, whom has expressed big admiration for ‘Iron Mike’ in the past.
Speaking earlier this year, the former heavyweight champion left no one in any doubt as to how he sees the fight with Plant unfolding.
“Caleb Plant ain’t lasting the distance. He’s going to get clocked. He’s going to get so f****d up. With two human beings, anything is possible, but I think [Canelo] is going to f****** kill him,” Tyson said.
“He’s your friend? You’re going to his funeral. Wait till Alvarez starts hitting that motherf*****g body.”
Undercard results: Barthelemy stops Vittori in round two
Rances Barthelemy has produced the first victory of the night at the iconic MGM Grand Garden Arena on the Las Vegas Strip.
Cuba’s former two-weight world champion – now 36 – made light work of Argentine Gustavo Vittori, securing a stoppage in round number two.
Mexico’s two-time Pan American champion Joselito Velazquez is now in the ring, battling Gilberto Mendoza.
This early portion of the undercard is not being televised. The main card gets underway at around 1am GMT.
Plant’s path to undisputed
Plant – known for his fast hands and stinging jab – is unbeaten in 21 pro fights and became a world champion in 2019 after a win over Rogelio Medina had made him the mandatory challenger for the IBF belt held by José Uzcátegui, who himself was upgraded from interim to full champion after James DeGale had relinquished the title.
Venezuelan Uzcátegui’s reign was to be a short one as he came unstuck in his very first defence, with Plant inflicting two early knockdowns en route to a wide points win.
He completely dominated former light-heavyweight Mike Lee in his own (short) first defence that summer, also later making light work of mandatory Vincent Feigenbutz.
Plant’s last defence was in Los Angeles in January, when, rather than accept a unification clash with Canelo, he instead fought former IBF champion Caleb Truax, winning all 12 rounds on every card in another emphatic triumph.
Canelo’s path to undisputed
So, how exactly did we get here?
Canelo’s glittering career to date has brought world titles in four different divisions from light-middleweight all the way up to light-heavy.
He focused his attentions back on super-middle last year in the aftermath of that devastating knockout of Sergey Kovalev, inflicting Briton Callum Smith’s first defeat in a comprehensive decision victory in San Antonio, Texas to pick up the WBA and WBC belts.
He later retained them with an easy third-round stoppage of hopelessly overmatched mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim before adding the WBO strap with that brutal win over Billy Joe Saunders in May that left the latter needing surgery on a fractured eye socket and cheekbone, with it still not certain that he will return to the ring.
Canelo’s brilliant trainer Eddy Reynoso turns 45 today and has every faith that his fighter will successfully take that final step on the road to undisputed…