Plant Twice Drops, Outfights Uzcategui

By Caryn A. Tate on January 13, 2019
Plant Twice Drops, Outfights Uzcategui
Caleb “Sweethands” Plant simply put on a boxing clinic. (Luis Mejia/TGB Promotions)

His athleticism and all-around skills, plus his mental quickness and physical speed, had Uzcategui at a loss for what to do for most of the fight…

In a compelling match-up for the IBF super middleweight world title, champion Jose Uzcategui (28-3, 23 KOs) defended his belt for the first time against Caleb Plant (18-0, 10 KOs) in the 12-round main event on a Premier Boxing Champions presentation televised on Fox Sports 1. The event took place from Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California.

For the first half of the contest, Plant simply dominated Uzcategui. He utilized superior positioning, fighting Uzcategui from the outside but being far less mobile than he was in previous bouts. His excellent use of angles and distance, and of course fundamental defensive techniques, caused Uzcategui to miss his shots or not throw much at all.

In round two, Plant landed a flurry of punches that caught Uzcategui bewildered. Plant followed the flurry up with a short left hook upstairs that dropped the champion to the canvas. Uzcategui beat the count.

In the fourth, Plant threw another combination and caught Uzcategui unawares—again with the left hook—upstairs. Uzcategui went down, this time appearing hurt, but he survived after the action continued.

Despite a cut over his right eye dripping blood down his face, Plant simply put on a boxing clinic tonight. His athleticism and all-around skills, plus his mental quickness and physical speed, had Uzcategui at a loss for what to do for most of the fight. Plant’s footwork was far superior as well, as Uzcategui plodded after him in an attempt to trap him against the ropes or in a corner. But even then, Plant outworked the champion and slipped most of Uzcategui’s shots.

Occasionally, Uzcategui would catch Plant with a punch or two, but it seemed that Plant had made up his mind long ago that he was finishing this fight on his terms. That’s just what he did, even when Uzcategui had a bit more success in a few of the later rounds.

Uzcategui came on a bit more in round six, perhaps because Plant appeared to be slowing the pace a bit. Plant was breathing through his mouth and clinched a few times in the round to buy a little time. It appeared the challenger might just need a little bit of a breather in that round, though on my scorecard Plant still won the round clearly based on landing more clean punches and doing what he pleased for the most part.

As the bout wore on, Plant’s fatigue or Uzcategui’s desperation (or a combination of the two) led to the two fighters meeting on the inside. Despite having the reputation as the “pure boxer” going into this contest, Plant outfought Uzcategui. He outworked and out-toughed the perceived bigger puncher, working the body and even the head from the inside, while most of the time Uzcategui either simply leaned on Plant or attempted to push the challenger backward to gain more room. But Plant didn’t have that problem—like all good inside fighters, he moved his own body to create the momentum he needed on the inside, rather than needing his opponent to move backward. Not to mention Plant didn’t need much space to achieve some excellent punches, and continued throwing in combination.

In the ninth, Uzcategui seemed emboldened by seeing the blood from Plant’s cut and his nose, and let his hands go more. He seemed to hurt Plant with about a minute left in the round, but again, Plant’s boxing abilities and sheer willpower seemed to pull him through the tough moment.

In the championship rounds, Plant appeared to be fatigued, breathing through his mouth and clinching more. But even then, I had him winning the rounds as Uzcategui wasn’t working as much as Plant was.

It was a simply beautiful performance by Plant, who let the dog in himself out tonight. In the lead-up to the bout, he alluded to the fact that people would see a different Caleb Plant and see facets to his game that may surprise them. He showed that he not only has superb boxing skills, but he has the grit, the toughness, and the infighting ability to outfight a “fighter,” someone who is more known for going toe-to-toe (like Uzcategui). Plant stepped up in his first title fight tonight, against a fighter who has proven himself and had a tough reputation, and showed that he had more than enough to achieve victory.

The official scorecards were 116-110 twice, and one that read 115-111, all for Plant.

After the bout, Plant cried tears of joy. He said, “I’ve worked my whole entire life for this belt. I buried my daughter in the process…

“Nashville stand up! And the new!”

It’ll be a treat to see Plant take on the other champions in the super middleweight division.

Earlier, 18-year-old Joey Spencer (6-0, 6 KOs) took on Brandon Harder (2-2, 1 KO) in a four-round contest. Spencer, who made his pro debut last year and fought five fights in one year, was voted the 2018 Prospect of the Year for PBC by the fans. His technique and skills appear to be excellent, though like all young prospects, his opposition hasn’t been great, so we’ll see if he shows the same level of excellence as his opposition level increases.

Spencer made short work of Harder, dropping him three times en route to a technical knockout in the second round.

In the first bout of the televised main card, super bantamweights Brandon Figueroa (18-0, 13 KOs) and Moises Flores (25-2, 17 KOs) fought in a WBA title eliminator. From the first bell, Figueroa fought very well on the inside, backing up the more experienced Flores and landing clean shot after clean shot, while Flores missed the majority of his punches on Figueroa.

Round two continued in that vein. A little over a minute into the round, Figueroa landed a short, compact left hook upstairs that dropped Flores heavily. Flores made the count but was clearly stung. It was only a matter of time before 22-year-old Figueroa sealed the deal, hurting and dropping Flores for a second and final time before referee Jack Reiss waved it off.

In the televised prelims earlier in the evening, former world champion, Olympic gold medalist, and amateur standout Guillermo Rigondeaux (18-1, 12 KOs) returned to the ring versus Giovanni Delgado (16-9, 9 KOs) in a scheduled 10-rounder. Rigondeaux stayed in the pocket more than he has in recent years, hearkening back to a few of his earlier professional bouts. Delgado was mobile, attempting to stay away from Rigondeaux’s snappy punches, but it only worked for so long. As he often does, the southpaw Rigondeaux “practiced” his straight left several times during the first round, throwing it and either nearly landing or barely landing it—it’s almost as if the Cuban simulates what he’s going to do to his opponent before he finally pulls the trigger on it. This was no exception: at 2:59 of the first round, Rigondeaux let his straight left go and it landed cleanly in Delgado’s face, dropping him immediately. Referee Jack Reiss displayed his characteristic, instantaneous officiating, stepping in before Delgado had even touched the canvas. Delgado made the count but wasn’t in any shape to continue.

Check out more of Caryn’s work at http://www.CarynATate.com and follow her on Twitter@carynatate

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  1. Koolz 01:09pm, 01/15/2019

    Plant got beat up but won the fight.  There is no bad blood between these two.
    Uzcategui hugged him after the fight in the dressing room and showed him honor and respect. 

    Plant barely survived those last four rounds.

    It wasn’t an easy win.  But it was Win for everything for Plant.  The Cosmos were aligned for Plant.

    He still got beat up and Uzcategui was never hurt.

  2. Erect On Demand 06:43pm, 01/14/2019

    @Koolz-Whoa! Where did that come from?! Plant fought Jose with everything he had from the opening to the final bell. What in the hell did GGG do when Canelo came forward for practically the entire second fight?! Just how dumb is GGG to think he was going to get the decision if he didn’t meet fire with fire and whip the redhead’s ass to a frazzle?! There was no way they were going to let GGG “edge” Canelo….he had to separate himself from Canelo by knocking him unconscious or scoring at least three knockdowns…two would not have been enough! If GGG fought Canelo the way Plant fought Jose we wouldn’t have this ridiculous bullshit where Canelo is being rated as a close second…yes…a close second to Loma as number one P4P!

  3. Koolz 12:56pm, 01/14/2019

    Caleb Plant got the crap beat out of him by a fighter that didn’t even take it seriously.  After each round the Then Champion Uzcategui was laughing and smiling he really was never hurt the whole fight.

  4. Koolz 12:07pm, 01/14/2019

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bz28ldyCZTk

    Plant vs Uzcategui

  5. peter 08:29pm, 01/13/2019

    Caleb Plant was a pleasure to watch. He’s a smart fighter who picks his shots well. I particularly like his footwork and movement, and his ability to create angles for his left hook which is sweet and sneaky. He went into the fight in tip-top shape and the right attitude. He went for broke. Like he said, “I don’t have Plan B” and it showed. I look forward to seeing more of him.

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