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Caleb Plant: The South Got Something To Say (at 168 lbs)!

 
Unbeaten super middleweight prospect Caleb Plant makes his Showtime debut next Friday night, September 8th, versus veteran Alan Campa as part of a special 168-pound showcase, along with the division’s upstart David Benavidez and J’Leon Love. 

Undefeated prospect Tennessee-native Caleb “Sweet Hands” Plant (15-0, 10 KOs) is slated to open a Showtime Boxing special edition telecast next Friday, September  8th (10:05 PM EST/7:05 PM PST) when he faces Alan Campa (16-3, 11 KOs) inside The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

This week Plant entered Las Vegas’ Sunrise Children’s Hospital to spread love and share gifts and well wishes to kids dealing with various medical conditions. Next week the unbeaten contender from the volunteer state enters the ring to showcase his dynamic boxing skills in hopes of propelling his name to the top of a division that is trying to find its footing – Plant’s bringing the (sweet) hands.

Until next week’s Pay Me No Mind podcast drops, check out some excerpt’s from today’s interview with Plant, as he had some down time from fight preparation and his aforementioned philanthropic activity. Some of the interview’s topics include the sweet-handed super middleweight’s approach to his upcoming bout with the durable Campa, his thoughts on sharing a card with Benavidez, the difficulty with getting the types of opponents he wants to face, his absence from the looming World Boxing Super Series, his relationship with PBC Jabs host Jordan Hardy, and much more.

Round By Round Boxing: You lost your 19-month old daughter Alia nearly 2 1/2 years ago. It takes a lot to climb through the ropes and enter the ring each fight; what did you experience internally or emotionally before you entered the Sunrise Children’s Hospital to spend time with those kids?

Caleb Plant: It’s a lot of mixed emotions, you know, it’s bitter and sweet but much more sweet than it is bitter. You know it brings back a lot memories, but it’s not about me and how I feel or what’s bitter and sweet to me, it’s about the kids. Those kids they’re going through a tough battle, so they need to know they got people on their side who support them and are there for them. When there’s those long draining days, there’s somebody who can come along and bring them some goodie bags full of boxing stuff, and just let them know, “Hey, I respect y’all and y’all are fine in what y’all doing, I just want you to know that I’m here for you. I support you because I know what it’s like.”

RBRBoxing: I just salute you in taking out your time to get involved in the community in that manner – that just seems like such a challenging situation. Moving into boxing, I know it’s “Sweet Hands”, but do you think your feet get overlooked?

CB: Thank you.

I know my footwork is something that separates me, but the biggest thing is pulling out the right tool for the right time. I don’t pull out a hammer when it’s time to work with a screw, and I don’t pull out a screwdriver when it’s time to hit the nail. It’s just about being able to make adjustments, and do what you need to do when it’s called for, and that’s what I do. I’m able to make adjustments, I’ve had to walk people down, I’ve had to stick and move but footwork is a big thing that we have on our side. But at the end of the day it’s about being able to make adjustments and being well-rounded, and that’s what I believe that I am.

RBRBoxing: Do you think right now that super middleweight has an identity problem? Ward’s moved on from there, Badou Jack is one of my favorites that has moved up to light heavyweight now, and all-time great Roy Jones was around super middleweight for a while, but do you think the division is looking for what’s next, in a way?

CB: Oh, absolutely! Absolutely, but, I think that I’m in position and I have the skill, the story and the charisma and everything – the background. It’s who I am, for the people to relate to and to latch on to, and I feel like only time will tell. It’s just about being on the right platforms and performing how I have been against the guys that I’m facing, and quality guys that we’re trying to face but aren’t able to get in there. So, I think if I just keep doing what I’m doing how I’m doing it that I can be that guy. I can put that on my shoulders and carry that.

RBRBoxing: Some title holders and contenders are participating in the World Boxing Super Series, and will be tied up for the next 18-24 months, are you a little bit disappointed in not being involved in that? Obviously you’re trying to chase guys down or entice them to get in the ring with you, it seems like this series would’ve provided you with some degree of job security over the next two years. Any thoughts on not being included in that?

CB: Yeah, I was included. I was called, I was called to be in the tournament, they wanted me to be in the tournament – it was something that I chose to turn down. That me and my team, me and Al [Haymon], and me and Luis, we didn’t want to participate in that. We didn’t want to be a part of that, not because we’re knocking on that or it’s not good for me or my career. It’s just not the route that me or Al or Luis want to take, we have other plans, and we have plans that are set and things that we’re working on. So, I’m not disappointed because I got called for it, and it’s just something I chose to say, “You know what, there’s a season for everything and right now I just want to stick with the plan me and Al and Luis have.”

I think it’s a great tournament and there’s some quality guys in there, but we’re just taking a different route and doing a different thing.

RBRBoxing: Taking it in along with us fans, who’s your favorite to win that?

CB: You know I’m not really sure, I try not to get too caught up with what other people are doing. I just try to focus on what I’m doing and who I am as a man, who I am as a boxer, and I just to build on those things day in and day out.

I’m not really sure, I’m not a guy who likes to make predictions too often, especially when the people are in my weight class, when it comes to that I just try to focus on myself and make sure that I’m doing the things I need to be doing. You know, that’s enough on your plate as it is you know, just to make sure that you’re doing the things that you’re supposed to be doing right. It’ll play itself out, I know that, and all questions will be answered at the end of the day when it comes to the end of the tournament, so until then we’ll just have to sit back and enjoy the quality fights they’ll have in that.

RBRBoxing: Next Friday night, September 8th, you’ll be in the opening bout on Showtime, facing Alan Campa at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. What’s your thoughts on Campa as your opponent?

CB: Well, I think it’s good. I think he’s a tough guy, a tough competitor, he’s been in there with some quality people. He’s had 6 or 7 weeks to train for this fight, so I know he’s going to be in shape, I know he’s going to come hard, I know he’s going to give me the best fight, the best Alan Campa that he has, and I’m prepared to go the distance. But, I’m also looking to put on a show and make a statement. You know, because I may the opening TV bout but at the end of the day, whoever is on TV, at end of the night it’s about who put on the best show. And if you look at my résumé, I enjoy putting a show on and people enjoy the shows that I put on. So, I’m not just looking to win, I’m looking to make a statement, and let people know who’s who.

RBRBoxing: Campa’s two stoppages came against Jesse Hart and Sergiy Derevyanchenko, do you think this is a chance to gauge where you are, or to plant some seeds–no pun intended–in boxing fans’ minds, to show what you did against a common opponent?

CB: I don’t really try to get caught up in doing better than this guy did, or stopping him earlier than this guy did. I just go in there composed and sharp, and just do what I’m supposed to do. The only thing that I’ve kept on my radar is putting on the show of the night, and however that comes that’s how it’s gonna come, but I plan on putting the best show on – of the night. A victory for sure, but one that people will remember above everyone else that they seen on TV.

RBRBoxing: What’s the game towards Campa?

CB: Just to come in there composed, relaxed and to make adjustments as needed. I can plan day in and day out, but at the end of the night it’s what he gives me. I’m going to go in there composed and relaxed, and pull out the tool for the job that needs to be done. If that’s to cut off the ring and walk him down–I can do that. If it’s to stick and move or box–I can do that. If it’s to switch it up–I can do that. If it’s to counter or to get off first–I can do that. If it’s to pick and roll in the pocket – I can do that. And then he’s going to have to make an adjustment off that, and he’s not able to make adjustments, then you’re not going to be able to beat me because I can mix it up. I can do what’s needed to win, and when I go out there and adjust, and you’re not able to adjust to – it’s going to be a long night. Or a short night!

RBRBoxing: You and David Benavidez are some up and comers in the division, you’re sharing this card together, are there any thoughts on checking him out in-person? Any thoughts of you guys meeting up down the line?

CB:  Yeah, David knows who I am. You know, David knows exactly who I am. I know David, I know what he’s about, and David definitely knows what I’m about. You know with the Ronald Gavril fight, I think it’s kind of an underhanded pitch for David to knock it out of the park and win this WBC title. It’s kinda an underhanded pitch for him to hit a home-run and look good – but that’s perfectly fine. So, after this fight, if David wants to fight we can definitely make that happen. If he wants to hang on to the belt a little bit longer and not fight next, that’s fine, you can’t force anybody to do anything in boxing. Which, I know that firsthand because if you could, then I would’ve already been fighting some big names.

So, if they wanna toss me Ronald next so I can show the world what I can do with Ronald just like David can, we can do that. You know this guy (Campa) fought Jesse Hart, I’m gonna handle him easier than Jesse Hart did, so after I show I can handle him easier than Jesse Hart did… If he can get by Gilberto Ramirez… me and Jesse Hart can fight next. If he can’t get past Ramirez, I can fight Gilberto next. It really doesn’t matter to me, I never discredit anybody or their skills, but it has to be known that I’m willing to fight anybody.

We can make the big fight between me and David happen right now because that’s the fight that people are asking for, me and David are on a head-on collision to fight each other. It can happen soon, it can happen later, it doesn’t matter to me. If that’s something that Al and them want to build up, whatever, that’s fine. If they want us to fight next and go ahead and get it out the way, that’s fine.

We can make the big fight between me and David happen right now because that’s the fight that people are asking for, me and David are on a head-on collision to fight each other.

RBRBoxing: If you can’t get the big names, over the next 12 months what’s an example of some fulfilling progress for you and your career?

CB: After this we’re going to have a quick turnaround. We’re gonna be back in the ring pretty soon, by the end of this year. It’s supposed to be a step up fight, I can’t tell you who it is, but it’s gonna be what I ask for, you know. It’s gonna be a step up fight, which is what I’ve asked for, which is a step up fight, it’s going to be a tough guy that everybody knows and after that we’ll go from there.

I’m ranked No. 7 in the world in the WBA, and #11 in the IBF. We’re looking to move really quick in the IBF hopefully. So if James DeGale is healed up, then some time in the first half of next year, we can get that going. It’s just a lot of things we can do, and it don’t matter to me, I just can’t be the only one over here raising my hand saying, “I want to fight you and you and you.”

So if James DeGale is healed up, then some time in the first half of next year, we can get that going.

RBRBoxing: Do you get any friendly jeering from the fellas, or in the gym, regarding the heartfelt feelings you express on social media towards Jordan Hardy? Do you ever catch any friendly flak from friends or members of Team Plant?

CB: No, not at all, not from anybody. Everybody is supportive and likes what we’ve got. A man is supposed to make his woman feel secure in what they have, and that’s what I do. So if that’s funny to anybody, or they feel like that’s something they should joke on, maybe it’s just because they’re just not making their woman feel secure in what they have. But that’s just something that a man is supposed to do, if you’re not doing it, don’t joke on me because I am doing it. I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing – that’s what a man does. If they are being funny or silly, then maybe deep down they’re a little jealous because they don’t wake up to a woman making sure they’ve got breakfast in bed, or all their laundry is done.

But, we don’t hear anything, I don’t catch any flak, because people know the kind of man that I am, and I don’t take no bull____ from nobody. I do what I’m supposed to do, and as a man that’s what you’re supposed to do with your woman.

RBRBoxing:  How do you handle input from Jordan on your performances, or even training and sparring sessions, when she’s obviously more knowledgeable about boxing than the average girlfriend or female fan? How do you handle constructive criticism from Jordan?

CB: It’s about being humble, and knowing that we have a team around us that only wants to point us in the right direction. I only got a woman that wants to point me in the right direction, and she knows that she got a man that’s only gonna point her in the right direction.

She knows boxing, and that’s why she’s so good at what she does so early on, because she’ll say, “Hey, put in James Toney versus Iran Barkley, let’s watch that.”

She’s at sparring with me, she’s in the trenches with me, she’s at sparring, she’s at training, she’s around my coaches all the time. So, she knows boxing, she knows what a check hook is, she knows what a shoulder-roll right hand, what a full right hand is. She knows what changing levels means. She knows what “going to the body”, or “using the stick”, she knows what all that means – or “get on your bike.”

Not to knock anyone else, but a lot of these women reporters don’t know boxing to that extent. They know, “Oh, he’s using his jab…” or “He’s being the aggressor…” But Jordan knows that they’re being the aggressor so they can shoot their opponent’s wad early, and then they can step on the gas in the second half of the fight and get them out of there. Or, she knows they’re being aggressive just because that’s their style – she just knows boxing. This is an intellectual woman when it comes to boxing, someone who knows what they’re talking about, so when she says something I say, “You know what, you’re right, let me not do that.”


Plant spoke more about his relationship with Jordan and her role in his boxing career, but he also shared his analysis on the Floyd Mayweather versus Conor McGregor “money fight” and provided a look at how racial differences and matters play out in a sport like boxing–from the boxer’s perspective.

To set that topic up Cedric Maxwell’s story – from ESPN Films “30 for 30” feature Celtics/Lakers: Best of Enemies – was referenced, regarding his preconceptions about white basketball players prior to his first encounter with Larry Bird.

In order to catch the full interview on the PMNM podcast, which contains Plant’s candid thoughts about his pursuit of a super middleweight title, be sure to follow on Twitter @PMNMhaven for the tweet next week before Plant’s appearance on Showtime. The podcast can also be found anywhere you listen to or download podcasts by searching for TalkLoudRadio to find Pay Me No Mind episodes.

 

Photo credit:

Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions

Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions

Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions

Marilyn Paulino/RBRBoxing

  

The creator and host of the Pay Me No Mind podcast and YouTube channel. Seeking the path to become a full-fledged ATCQ-certified resurrector.

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