Mexican pound-for-pound king Saul “Canelo” Alvarez has his sights on joining an exclusive club on Saturday as he aims to become the first undisputed super-middleweight champion in boxing history.
The 31-year-old star faces Caleb Plant at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas looking to add his American opponent’s IBF belt to his WBA, WBC and WBO titles in a winner-take-all showdown.
Alvarez would become the sixth male fighter since the WBO began sanctioning world title fights in 1988 to hold the four belts from boxing’s alphabet soup of governing bodies simultaneously.
Only five other boxers — Oleksandr Usyk (cruiserweight), Bernard Hopkins (middleweight), Jermain Taylor (middleweight), Terence Crawford (super-lightweight) and Josh Taylor (super-lightweight) — have held all four belts at once.
“Only five male fighters in the history of boxing have accomplished becoming undisputed champion,” Alvarez said. “I want to be the sixth. That’s the only thing on my mind.
“This fight is going to be history. You’re going to be witnessing something that you’re going to remember for a long time.”
Alvarez last defended his titles in May, battering Britain’s Billy Joe Saunders into submission with an eight round stoppage in Arlington, Texas, to improve to 56-1 with two drawn and 38 knockouts.
The lone blemish on Alvarez’s record remains his majority decision defeat to Floyd Mayweather at the MGM Grand in 2013.
It will be a monumental upset if Plant adds another defeat to the Mexican’s record on Saturday — bookmakers have Alvarez as a 1/12 favorite while Plant is a 6/1 underdog.
The final build-up to Saturday’s bout has seen both men damp down the animosity that erupted at their face-to-face press conference in Los Angeles in September, when Alvarez took offense at an expletive-laden tirade by Plant and landed a punch that cut the American under his right eye.
– ‘Crossed the line’ –
“He crossed the line and maybe too much, that’s why it’s personal,” Alvarez said after the scuffle, accusing Plant of insulting his mother.
The Mexican struck a different tone earlier this week, however, insisting he would be his usual calm, calculating self once he climbs throught the ropes on Saturday.
“It’s so different when you’re in the ring, so I don’t really take anything from our altercation at the first press conference,” Alvarez said.
Plant, who brings a 21-0 (12 knockouts) record into Saturday’s fight, insists he had not intended to insult Alvarez’s mother.
The 29-year-old’s own mother, Beth Plant, was shot dead by police after brandishing a knife at officers as she received medical treatment in 2019.
“It wasn’t my intention to get under Canelo’s skin at the first press conference,” Plant said. “I think the media makes more of it than we do. We’ve both been in worse scuffles than that. When the bell rings, it’s completely different.”
The death of Plant’s mother two years ago marked another traumatic chapter in a life touched by tragedy. In 2015, Plant’s 20-month-old daughter Alia, who had been born with a brain abnormality that left her prone to seizures, died after a respiratory infection which developed into pneumonia.
Those experiences have shaped Plant’s journey to Saturday’s showdown and mean he is unfazed by the prospect of facing one of his sport’s most accomplished — and ruthless — practitioners.
“I have to get the job done by any means necessary,” Plant said. “That’s what me and my team have done so far to get to this point. Whether it’s boxing or in life, I’ve gotten here by any means necessary.
“I’ve been the underdog before. It’s a place I like to be. I like people rooting against me. It gives me extra motivation, but when you’re fighting for undisputed status, you don’t need much more motivation than that.”