Experts make their picks for Canelo Álvarez vs. Caleb Plant

The following experts made their picks ahead of Canelo Álvarez versus Caleb Plant on Saturday night in Las Vegas:

Let’s start with: I’m intrigued by Caleb Plant. I like his fighting style, the quick-striking, the fearless approach. But I look at his résumé, and I see one big win, over Jose Uzcategui. Even if we’re being generous and counting victories over Mike Lee or Caleb Truax as significant, there’s nothing to suggest — beyond hope, or projections — that Plant is ready to compete with a talent as immense as Canelo Álvarez, let alone beat him. I believe Canelo is even underrated, despite what I believe is a majority that believes he’s the top pound-for-pound fighter right now. His resume should be even more celebrated. I believe Álvarez will become the best boxer of the post-Floyd Mayweather era, and no matter how I look at the fight against Plant, I can’t come up with a scenario in which he doesn’t win. In fact, I think he punishes Plant early to the body, setting up a knockout somewhere in the middle rounds. The pick here is Round 9, but I could see it happening earlier, too.

— Greg Bishop, Sports Illustrated senior writer

I like this super middleweight matchup on paper, but I wonder if Caleb Plant is truly ready for it after just 21 pro bouts (and having been on a once-or-twice-a-year fighting schedule since 2017). We’ve got an experienced complete fighter who likes to patiently walk his opposition down vs. a naturally bigger, athletic stick-and-mover with a good jab. Plant should be able to give Canelo Álvarez trouble with his lateral movement, fast hands and ring savvy, and I think he will compete with the Mexican star over the first half of the bout, but I don’t believe he will do so without paying a price. Álvarez will get his shots in from the opening bell. As technical and athletic as Plant is, I don’t think he’s as slick as he or his supporters believe he is. He appears to be “slick” and savvy against the level of opposition he’s been in with, but Jose Uzcategui, Caleb Truax, Vincent Feigenbutz and Rogelio “Porky” Medina — the best fighters on Plant’s résumé — are made to order for his style and talent. They are plodding, one-dimensional, straight-forward marching fighters with average speed and reflexes. Álvarez isn’t going to “zombie-stalk” Plant without so much as a jab, as Truax did in Plant’s last bout. Álvarez will walk him down with purpose and strategy. He will target the body. He will jab when needed. He will be ready to counterpunch with authority whenever Plant lets his hands go. Every punch will be delivered with speed, timing, accuracy, and maximum leverage. By the middle rounds, Plant will literally feel the vast difference in their levels of experience. I expect Álvarez to take over the late rounds, and maybe even stretch out the punishment due to their grudge, but he’ll look to end it before the final bell. Canelo by a late-round stoppage, probably after round nine.

— Doug Fischer, Ring Magazine editor in chief

There is nothing that Plant does that Álvarez hasn’t seen previously and succeeded against. Plant has good feet and he’ll make Álvarez work, but Álvarez’s body-punching and combinations are nothing like Plant has seen before. I anticipate Álvarez wearing Plant down and stopping him in the final quarter of the fight. Álvarez by ninth-round TKO.

— Kevin Iole, Yahoo Sports boxing and MMA columnist

Look for Plant to put his height, reach and hand speed advantage to proper use, especially early in the fight. The greatest concern is stamina, as Plant faded in the later rounds versus Uzcategui and has shown disinterest late in fights versus opponents unable to challenge him. Canelo will certainly have Plant’s undivided attention from beginning to end, so that won’t be a problem here. For nostalgia purposes, Julio César Chávez was undefeated and No. 2 pound-for-pound when he helped open the MGM Grand with a January 1994 title defense. His opponent was a longshot underdog from Tennessee with a thin resume — the late Frankie Randall. We saw how that night turned out, and with history overdue to repeat itself. Plant by decision.

— Jake Donovan, BoxingScene.com senior writer

Canelo is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world for a reason. He’s fought a variety of styles, adapted to them all and has an unrivaled resume amongst active fighters. As good as I believe Plant is, there’s nothing that tells me he has enough snap on his punches to make Canelo respect him. And if Canelo doesn’t like you and you can’t gain his respect, he’s going to walk you down and bludgeon you. Plant’s only hope is that Canelo throws away a few rounds and plucks away with a long jab to keep Canelo from closing in to escape with an unpopular decision. But that’s unlikely as Canelo’s body punching will be the key to slowing Caleb’s movement and eventually busting him up to get a late finish. Caleb won’t quit but he will be rescued. Canelo via ninth-round TKO.

— Andreas Hale, Sporting News senior editor of combat sports

Unified WBC/WBO/WBA super middleweight champion Canelo Álvarez trains as trainer Eddy Reynoso looks on, right, at a gym Oct. 20 in San Diego.

(Gregory Bull / Associated Press)

From the start I have been steadfast that Canelo will win this fight. I am a Plant fan. He’s an excellent fighter, has skills and is a good guy and picking against him is no knock on him at all. I just feel that while Plant is a top super middleweight, as were Callum Smith and Billy Joe Saunders, two other titleholders Canelo beat easily in the past year, Canelo is the No. 1 boxer on the planet right now and is at another level than all of them. I am not sure what weapon Plant has that will be enough to trump Canelo’s superb and diverse arsenal so he can win seven rounds. Not a hard pick for me. Canelo by late knockout in a dominating performance.

— Dan Rafael, Fight Freaks Unite

While Plant has some attributes that make him difficult (his high boxing IQ, height and legs), Canelo is a fighter that is at the peak of his powers, and has a distinct advantage in being the most active world-class boxer in the sport. While others come into bouts with ring rust, the Mexican star has no such issues. Plant doesn’t have the power to hold off Álvarez, and eventually, he’ll be worn down. I like Álvarez by tenth-round KO.

— Steve Kim, 3 Knockdown Rule

Canelo calls the fight personal. Maybe it is, or at least has been in all of the pushing, shoving and name-calling throughout much of the pre-fight hype. But the fight, itself, will be clinical. Canelo is nothing if not deliberate. He studies an opponent early, reaches a diagnosis in the middle rounds and then proceeds to break him down late. That’s what he did to Billy Joe Saunders, leaving the UK super-middleweight on his stool, broken and beaten after the eighth. Expect him to do the same to Caleb Plant, who has agile feet and hand speed but none of the power he’ll need to stop Canelo from administering another clinical beatdown.

— Norm Frauenheim, 15Rounds.com and Ring Magazine writer

Caleb Plant holds his arms out by his sides in the ring while a referee stands next to him

Caleb Plant celebrates his victory over Vincent Feigenbutz during an IBF super middleweight championship boxing match on Feb. 15, 2020, in Nashville.

(Mark Humphrey / Associated Press)

Plant has all the tools to fluster Álvarez. A stiff, snapping jab. Fleet feet. And an advanced boxing acumen that helps him avoid trouble. But Álvarez is the world’s best fighter for a reason, and has as complete an arsenal as there is in boxing today. It may take a few rounds to figure out Plant’s tempo and rhythm, but he’ll adjust accordingly and find a groove by the middle rounds — blending his skill, savvy and power. Álvarez by unanimous decision.

— Sam Gordon, Las Vegas Review-Journal sports reporter

Plant is not to be underestimated. He’s big, smart and polished. But this is a huge step into the deep end for him, when you look at who he’s beaten. Canelo and trainer Eddy Reynoso are nimble enough to change plans mid-fight if necessary. I see a very interesting fight in which Canelo wins a unanimous, but not run away, decision.

— Mark Whicker, Southern California News Group columnist

Caleb Plant has some of the qualities shared by fighters who have troubled Canelo Álvarez the most. His feet are quick. So are his hands. He’s elusive. He has the physical tools to beat Álvarez. Which doesn’t mean he will, of course. Plant has been a champion for nearly two years but remains something of a mystery. His only notable win was against Jose Uzcategui. Álvarez will mark a significant step up in class. While Plant is certainly capable of bagging a number of the early rounds, I question whether he’ll be able to make it through 12 rounds without making a big mistake. Plant has a history of tiring and getting sloppy in the late rounds. The guess here is that Álvarez will exploit one of those mistakes and score a late stoppage.

— Dylan Hernández, Los Angeles Times columnist

Plant has an advantage in height and reach, and he is also a tremendous athlete. He has good speed, heart, confidence and boxing skills. However, as a fighter, he lacks experience and he still needs to prove that he’s at the same level as Álvarez on a big stage. The Mexican champion usually needs some rounds before he can figure out his opponent’s vulnerable angles and be very aggressive. It is very unlikely that Plant will hurt Canelo, who has proven he can take big punches. Canelo will punish Plant with a great volume of shots and look to finish him in the late rounds. If Plant has a good plan, he can pull a very unlikely upset, but I don’t see that happening due to his opponent’s IQ and experience. I see Plant winning about four rounds and going to distance. Canelo by decision.

— Eduard Cauich, Los Angeles Times en Español sports editor

Could the cut under Plant’s eye reopen? The scar was visible during fight-week, and it may play in favor of Álvarez. A stoppage by the seventh round could be in the cards if that’s the case. If the cut isn’t an issue, I expect the fight to go longer and Canelo to win by tenth-round TKO. Plant has a high IQ in the ring and is highly skilled, but I doubt he’ll be able to pull off an upset against a fighter like Canelo. He has yet to fight someone close to his power and ability.

— Jad El Reda, Los Angeles Times en Español sports editor

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