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  Canelo Unifies 168 Pound Belts With KO Over Plant;
Dirrell Eyes Canelo After Stopping Hernandez In 4th

By William Trillo
Photos: Ryan Hafey - Premier Boxing Champions

In front of an electric crowd of over 16,000 at The MGM Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Super Middleweight Saul Alvarez (57-1-2, 39 KO’s) unified the 168 Pound titles when he KO’d Caleb Plant (21-1, 12 KO’s) in the 11th round of a tougher than expected fight. Plant gave a valiant effort against the Superstar Canelo but he just did not have pop in his punches to slow down the Alvarez wrecking machine.

As always Canelo began the fight moving forward trying to dictate the action in the ring, but a determined Plant shoulder rolled and weaved his way in and out of trouble time and time again. At times Plant was catching Canelo with flush punches. Yes, the light taps were annoying Canelo, but like a big game hunter trying to drop his prey with a pea shooter, the light punches from Plant only irritated Canelo and set up the inevitable outcome.

It was at the end of round six that the look on Canelo’s face said, “I got you now, it’s just a matter of time.” Left hooks were barely missing Plants chin while a 53 punch solid body attack slowed Caleb down when the Championship rounds began.

That’s when Canelo moved in for the kill.

Those left hooks that were missing their target earlier were now landing flush. Plant was in trouble. Canelo seized that opportunity. Landing a left hook combination Canelo put Plant down for the first time in his career. A wobbled Plant arose and stumbled to the ropes, but he beat the eight count and was willing to fight on. Smelling blood, Canelo jumped all over his fallen prey and with a flurry of punches followed by a crushing right hand Plant hit the deck. The fight was over. Officially it was halted at the 1:05 mark of round 11. At the time of the stoppage Canelo was ahead on all cards 97-93, 96-94, and 98-92.

The fight may have gone longer than most expected but in the end Canelo once again showed why he is the top attraction in professional boxing. He now owns the WBC World Super Middle, WBA Super World Super Middle, IBF World Super Middle and WBO World Super Middle Title. That’s a collection of belts that is hard to argue with.

On his knockout performance Canelo said, “Caleb is a good fighter. I have a lot of respect for Caleb Plant. He was a difficult opponent with a lot of ability, and I do respect him. We are both men at the end of the day. He wanted to fight me and continue. I told him there’s no shame. We had a great fight tonight. He was making the fight difficult, but Eddy told me to just stick to the gameplan in the last two rounds. In the end, I got him. That’s the way it had to finish. He was already hurt, and I went for the kill.”

Caleb Plant was taken to University Medical Center following the bout as a precaution.

In the semi-main event Super Middleweight Anthony Dirrell (34-2-2, 25 KO’s) scored a vicious fourth round KO over Marcos Hernandez (15-5-2, 3 KO’s).

On the KO Dirrell said, “It was a spectacular knockout. It was a punch we were working on. It wasn’t that wide. I used to use that punch way back when. I came up with the shot and he never saw it coming. My brother (Andre) was yelling at me and I said, ‘I got it.’ I saw it and I had to take advantage of it. I had to take it away from him.”

When asked what is next for him Anthony announced, “I want the winner of the main event tonight, either Canelo or Plant. That’s what we’re working for, me and Sugar Hill (Steward). We’ve worked hard to get here. In my career, I’ve had none of the major fights. But that would be a major fight, we all know that. And I want it.”

At the post fight press conference when asked if they can’t get the Canelo fight what’s next, Dirrell boldly stated, “Then I will retire!”

Welterweight Elvis Rodriguez (12-1-1, 11 KO’s) got back on the winning track against Juan Pablo Romero (14-1, 9 KO’s) in a very entertaining bout. Romero started off strong and appeared to be giving Elvis problems but that would not last long.

With under a minute left in round four Rodriguez put Romero down for an eight count with a straight left hand. That same left hand brought a grinding halt to the battle in round five. Romero went to the seat of his pants but was unable to get back up to his feet. After counting to ten the ref halted the battle at the 2:59 mark.

On his victory Elvis said, “Ever since my baby left me, I found a new place to dwell”….kidding…he really said, “I am fully aware that I started out slow in the first two rounds, but then I saw signs of wear and tear on his face and I gained the upper hand. Romero is a fast starter by nature, but I’m the other way around. Then I was able to straighten out. The division already knows who I am after having seen most of my fights. I suffered a little setback, but I think that everyone knows that Elvis Rodríguez brings powerful, quality punches in each fight.”

After a twenty-eight month layoff Featherweight Rey Vargas (35-0, 22 KO’s) made his return against a game but overmatched. Leonardo Baez (21-5, 12 KO’s). The length and height of Vargas was a difficult obstacle for Baez to navigate. Long punches upstairs and a plethora of body blows punctuated the unanimous decision victory for Vargas. Final scores all in favor of Vargas read 99-91 and 100-90 twice.

On his victory Vargas stated, “I was surprised he went the entire distance. He’s a good fighter and I don’t take anything away from him. I’m looking forward to my next fight being for a world title.”

Super Featherweight Jose Manuel Gomez (12-1, 5 KO’s) kissed the deck twice before being upset by Jose Antonio Meza (8-6, 2 KO’s). It was close but Meza got the nod 76-75 on all three judges scorecards.

Super Lightweight Rances Barthelemy (29-1 1, 15 KO’s) put Gustavo David Vittori (25-10-1, 12 KO’s) down twice while stopping him at the 1:54 mark of the second round.

Super Flyweight Jan Salvatierra (7-1, 3 KO’s) was handed his first defeat as Fernando Diaz (10-1-1, 3 KO’s) upset the previously undefeated fighter with a fifth round KO.

Flyweight Joselito Velazquez (14-0-1, 9 KO’s) dominated Gilberto Mendoza (19-11-3, 10 KO’s) over eight rounds pitching a shutout on all cards 80-72.


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