Caleb Plant impressed Shawn Porter on Saturday night.
Porter, an analyst for FOX, watched from ringside as Plant dominated mandatory challenger Caleb Truax on his way to a shutout victory on all three scorecards at Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall in Los Angeles. The former IBF/WBC welterweight champion noticed areas in which Plant must improve, however, if the unbeaten IBF super middleweight champion is to have a legitimate shot at beating Canelo Alvarez.
Plant is a probable opponent for the Mexican superstar, maybe as soon as mid-September, if Alvarez wins back-to-back bouts against Avni Yildirim and Billy Joe Saunders on February 27 and May 8, respectively. If Alvarez defeats Turkey’s Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs), the mandatory challenger for his WBC 168-pound crown, and England’s Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs), the WBO champ, Plant then would own the only super middleweight title Alvarez would need to become the fully unified champion in their division.
To upset Alvarez (54-1-2, 36 KOs), Porter noted during an interview Monday on “The Ak & Barak Show” that Plant (21-0, 12 KOs) would need to make a defensive adjustment and prove he has the power to keep an aggressive Alvarez off of him.
“Moving forward, I think the number one notable thing that we saw in that fight was an overhand right that he continued to get hit [with] by Caleb Truax, once Caleb Truax started to throw that punch,” Porter told co-hosts Barak Bess and Akin Reyes, whose show streams Monday through Friday on DAZN and SiriusXM. “That’s a punch that you cannot take from Canelo Alvarez. You can take it once or twice. You can’t take it consistently through the course of a fight, like he did in the second half against Caleb Truax. I still think that he has the speed. I think that he has the power to fare [well] with Canelo Alvarez. And I do still think that that is a very great fight for both fighters.
“But I think if anything, we see that he still has some things to work on to get to the Canelo Alvarez level. It’s one thing to fight somebody, but it’s another thing to fight and beat somebody. Caleb Plant is the kinda guy that I would want to fight and beat Canelo Alvarez. And I’m sure you guys would probably, maybe, feel the same way. But I’m the kinda guy like if Caleb Plant’s getting in the ring with Canelo, I’m expecting you to beat Canelo. I’m not expecting you to just get in the ring with Canelo. In order to do that, his power has got to improve, and his focus through the course of 12 rounds has to improve as well.”
The 28-year-old Plant picked apart Truax (31-5-2, 19 KOs, 1 NC), a former IBF champ who is 37 and entered their fight as a gargantuan underdog. Each judge scored all 12 rounds for Plant, an Ashland City, Tennessee, native who made his third title defense.
Porter has sensed that Plant hasn’t gotten enough credit for winning 120-108 on each card.
“It’s crazy how this dude had a dominating performance,” Porter explained, “but we’re still talking about him as if it didn’t happen the way that it happened. But you take a look at the landscape, you’ve got a guy in there that’s 37, a guy who’s coming off of an injury, had an Achilles injury, hasn’t been in the ring in [one year]. I mean, the list just goes on from there. And you’re saying, ‘You’re Caleb Plant. Take care of this guy.’ It didn’t happen. I’m not let down by the performance. I’m not mad at the performance. I thought he did great. I just thought that he could do more. And if we wanna turn lemons into lemonade, what you say is this dude didn’t scare off anybody. He didn’t scare off Canelo Alvarez. He didn’t scare off [David] Benavidez. He still has fights in the future.
“You take a look at me, losing to Errol Spence Jr., but looking as good as I did, nobody wants to get in the ring with me. You know, so, I think the best part about it is that [Plant] still has some room to grow. I think a lot of people are still doubting him, which works to his advantage because me knowing him personally, you don’t wanna doubt Caleb Plant because you’ll get surprised. And I think that he left room for himself to have fights in the future, where, you know, if he had looked brilliant, other people may have shied away from the fight.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.