LAS VEGAS – David Benavidez sensed that he began breaking down Caleb Plant as early as the fourth round of their fight Saturday night.
One of Benavidez’s body shots during that round made Plant let out a sound that Benavidez made sure Plant knew he heard. Slowly but surely thereafter, Benavidez’s brutal body shots and persistent pressure rendered Plant a more stationary target and enabled Benavidez to take apart his athletic, skillful opponent.
Plant led on all three scorecards after the fifth round (50-45, 49-46 and 48-47). An undeterred Benavidez shut out the former IBF super middleweight champion on each card from rounds six through 12 and won a unanimous decision at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Judges Steve Weisfeld (117-111) and Dave Moretti (116-112) thought Benavidez convincingly defeated Plant. Judge Tim Cheatham had it closer, 115-113.
Phoenix’s Benavidez explained his measured approach during his post-fight press conference.
“The main thing is that I wanted to be patient,” Benavidez said. “I mean, Caleb Plant is a great counterpuncher. As you can see, he’s really fast. I didn’t wanna just go in there and then get countered with any shots. You know, I really had to take my time. I think you guys seen a good jab. My jab was way more effective than Caleb Plant’s. You guys were only talkin’ about Caleb Plant having a more better jab and stuff like that. But as soon as I got in there, you know, the fight is not a four- or six-round fight. It’s a 12-round fight, you know, so you gotta start slow.
“But as soon as I, you know, I found my groove, there was nothing he could do to stop me. You know, I hurt him to the body, hurt him to the head, cut the ring off pretty good. And, like I said, I’m just satisfied with this. There’s a lotta things I can fix in my game, but overall I’m satisfied with this. This is my first fight [on] pay-per-view. This is the biggest fight I ever been in, the biggest fight of my life. And I feel like I did amazing. You know, I mean, we went out there – I told you I was gonna put a beating on Caleb Plant. That’s exactly what I did.”
The 30-year-old Plant, of Ashland City, Tennessee, fought through a cut over his right eye, the result of an accidental head-butt in the eighth round. Battered and bloodied, Plant held excessively during the final few rounds, which helped him make it to the final bell.
The 26-year-old Benavidez (27-0, 23 KOs) joined Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez as the only opponents who have beaten Plant (22-2, 13 KOs). Benavidez wants to battle boxing’s undisputed super middleweight champion next, assuming Alvarez (58-2-2, 39 KOs) beats British southpaw John Ryder (32-5, 18 KOs) in their DAZN Pay-Per-View main event May 6 at Akron Stadium in Zapopan, Mexico.
Before Benavidez fully shifts his focus toward challenging Alvarez for his IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO 168-pound crowns, he’ll savor his gratifying victory over Plant, a rival Benavidez wanted to fight for the past few years. Though Benavidez is “a little disappointed” he didn’t beat Plant by knockout, he took pride in his overall performance in their Showtime Pay-Per-View main event.
“I don’t know if you guys seen it,” Benavidez said, “but I hit him with a body shot and I heard him go, ‘Ughhh!’ And I told him, ‘I heard you.’ I told him, ‘I heard you.’ You know, that’s what changed everything. That was in round four. And from there, it was just [I] kept hitting him with body shots, kept hitting him with hard shots. I know I’m the harder puncher. That’s why I’ve told you guys, I’ve said it over and over again, everybody I’ve been in the ring with I’ve hurt, everybody, since I was 14 years old.
“And that’s something that nobody can take away from me. I know I got that power, you know, and if somebody pushes me to the limit like that, I get even stronger. So, yeah, that was basically when it turned, and I just kept hurtin’ him, kept hurtin’ him.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.