One man who could really have a break out year in 2021 is 28-year-old Caleb Plant.
‘Sweet Hands’ only fought once in 2020, but starts this year as he hopes to go on with a third defence of his IBF Super Middleweight title.
Plant (20-0, KO12) puts his belt on the line against a former holder of the same title in Minnesota’s Caleb Truax (31-4-2, KO19), and the contest tops a Premier Boxing Champions bill.
Plant turned professional in 2014 under the wing of the notorious Al Haymon, and came to wider prominence in 2018, widely outscoring Rogelio Medina to earn a shot at the IBF title.
January 2019 saw Plant get his shot at Jose Uzcategui, and he began as an underdog.
He quickly shed that tag, dropping the Venezuelan in rounds two and four, before taking an unanimous decision to become the new champion.
Plant has defended twice since, first, a third round knockout of fellow unbeaten Mike Lee, with Lee down four times in all.
Caleb was last seen in February 2020, where he gave the German, Vincent Feigenbutz, a shellacking until the referee intervened in the tenth.
His stock has risen considerably, and he has been in the conversation for a golden opportunity against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, but the fight hasn’t yet materialised.
Instead, Plant defends against 37-year-old Truax, who briefly held the IBF strap in 2017.
‘Golden’ lost his unbeaten record in April 2012 in a ten round loss to former Undisputed Middleweight champion, Jermain Taylor, but won seven of his next eight to set up a world title shot.
WBA Middleweight champion, Daniel Jacobs dominated and stopped Truax in the last round, and two fights later Caleb was stopped in a round by Anthony Dirrell.
It looked like a crisis, but after two comeback wins, Truax secured a shot at the IBF Super Middleweight crown, and travelled to London to face James DeGale.
In an upset, Truax took the belt with a deserved majority nod.
Four months later, DeGale turned the tables, and took a tight points win in a rough and ugly contest.
It’s been pretty uninspiring stuff since for Truax. There was a no contest with Peter Quillin in April 2019 when he suffered a bad cut.
In his last outing, in January last year, he edged past the unheralded David Basajjamivule on a majority decision, where the 42-year-old Ugandan was deducted two points that cost him a draw.
Prediction: Plant is very underrated, and has the potential to really excel, and potentially unify in 2021.
Truax has noticeably slowed recently, and Plant will look to take full advantage of that as the fresher man.
Truax has only lost once early though when caught cold, and I think Plant may have to settle for a wide points win to retain his title.
Two unbeaten Heavyweights clash in the co-main event over ten, with Michael Coffie (11-0, KO8) taking on Darmani Rock (17-0, KO12).
Neither man has been past six rounds in their career, but Coffie is Rock’s senior by some ten years. I favour the fresher Rock to score an inside schedule success.
Former Lightweight world champion, Rances Barthelemy (27-1-1, KO14) returns for the first time in nearly two years, and he now campaigns at Welterweight, where he meets Filipino, All Rivera (21-4, KO18) over ten rounds.
Barthelemy was last out in April 2019, where he was held to a draw with Robert Easter for the vacant WBA Lightweight title.
The Cuban shouldn’t have too much trouble with Rivera, who has been stopped three times in four losses, and Barthelemy should add to that tally with an early win here.
Big punching Joey Spencer (11-0, KO8) sees action at Super Welterweight against Isiah Seldon (14-3-1, KO5). Seldon has been stopped in the opening round twice before, and Spencer can do similar in clinching an early stoppage.
Brandyn Lynch (10-1, KO8) and Mark Hernandez (14-4-1, KO3) open the show with an eight round Middleweight encounter.
I think Hernandez can take the win on the scorecards courtesy of his greater experience, having taken Alantez Fox the full ten rounds in his last appearance.
Atif Olberlton makes a debut, and he can take a win on the cards over four at Light Heavyweight against Nathan Sharp (4-2, KO4).