Caleb Plant vs. Mike Lee Teleconference Transcript
We greatly appreciate the media joining us from wherever
they are around the world and we are very excited for
Saturday July 20. We have the Super Middleweight Champion of
the World Caleb "Sweethands" Plant putting his title on the
line against unbeaten Mike Lee. It is the IBF Super
Middleweight Championship of the World on the line from the
MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. It is FOX PBC Fight
Night live on FOX and FOX Deportes and it all starts at 7
ET/4 PT. Brought to you by TGB Promotions and Sweethands
Tickets are available they are going quickly at AXS.com. You
can also purchase them over the phone 866-740-7711 or in
person at any MGM Resort International box office as FOX PBC
Fight Night will proceed the Fox Sports pay-per-view, the
PBC paper-view which starts at 9 ET/ 6 PT and that happens
also at MGM Grand featuring the Eight Division World
Champion Senator Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao taking on the WBA
Welterweight World Champion Keith Thurman in our main event.
Now Saturday July 20 is going to be a historic night of
boxing and we are off to a tremendous start for the summer
when it comes to PBC and a catalyst for that has been the
promotor and the President of TGB Promotions a man who in my
opinion needs to be in the Hall of Fame sooner than later,
please welcome my dear friend, the President of TGB
Promotions, Mr. Tom Brown.
Well thank you Ray and thank you for being with us for the
Caleb Plant versus Mike Lee IBF Super Middleweight Champion
Conference Call. It's going to be a huge night of boxing in
Las Vegas and a spectacular night for the sport of boxing
and for FOX on pay-per-view as well.
Caleb Plant will be making the first defense of his title on
FOX in primetime as the build-up to the Pacquiao vs. Thurman
pay-per-view event. The fans are in for a great night of
Caleb Plant put the world on notice with his exciting title
winning performance back in January. And now Mike Lee, in
his first world title fight has a huge opportunity to prove
he belongs with the best as both guys put their undefeated
records on the line. So now I'll throw it back over to Ray
to introduce the fighters and get things going. Thank you
Now let's get an opportunity to meet the challenger who is
undefeated, but first I want to acknowledge his terrific
team, his trainer Jamal Abdullah also another trainer that
he has Julian Chua, Tareq Azim, his strength and
This man is undefeated. Twenty-one bouts, 21 victories, 11
of those coming by way of knockouts. Thirty-two years of
age. He's been undefeated since turning pro back in 2010. He
typically campaigns at 175-pounds but now is going down
seven pounds to the super middleweight division. He could
not pass up this opportunity having most recently come off
of a victory over Jose Hernandez by unanimous decision last
Not only is he a terrific fighter but he has accomplished a
lot in academics, he's a graduate of the University of Notre
Dame where he earned a degree in Finance from the Mendoza
School of Business. I've had the opportunity to get to know
this young man for the past several years. He comes from a
tremendous background and without a doubt, looking to make a
statement and achieve his lifelong dream and become a world
champion. Ladies and gentleman, please welcome the
undefeated Mike Lee.
I'm excited. I'm in California now feeling phenomenal.
Training hard and sparring hard. It's been the best camp
I've ever had honestly. Weight is going down beautifully and
I just feel fast and strong and ready to do this.
Can you talk about what your goals were when you turned pro
and how this fight fits into that?
Well the ultimate goal of any fighter or athlete is to
compete at the highest level for a world title, a Super Bowl
or whatever that may be. So for me this is a dream come true
and I'm excited because you work so hard and go through all
the days of training camps and injuries and surgeries and
all that to get to this moment here. So it's the pinnacle of
the sport and that's where I belong and I'm excited to show
everybody that on July 20.
What lead to the decision to take a fight at Super
My team and I have been talking about super middleweight if
there was an opportunity for a big fight for a while so for
me it didn't necessarily come out of left field but when I
got the phone call about this specific opportunity, I was
all about it. I knew 168 wouldn't be a problem and I knew I
could bring my power and my speed down to this weight class
and rehydrate the right way. So when a world title comes,
you say "yes" and especially when I know that I can win. I
knew 168 was a comfortable weight for me and here we are.
Are you working with your nutritionist or doing anything
different in your training?
Yes, I hired a new nutritionist. Normally I didn't even
really need one to make 175 but I think the key was starting
to monitor and really, you know, get this stuff down early
on and we had a lot of time to prepare so that's been the
key and he's made me feel better than I've ever felt.
2019 has really been the year of the upsets and I would say
it's fair to say you're probably the underdog in this fight.
Do you take some heart at seeing some of the upsets that
have occurred this year in boxing and picture yourself being
another one on the list?
Yes, I don't really pay too much attention to it. Yes,
people have been saying that a lot but at the end of the day
I've just got to be the best me. Those fights and what
people say and what anybody else says doesn't dictate the
outcome of this fight when the bell rings and so yes,
obviously that's something to know. That's the beauty of the
sport, it only takes one punch, especially when you have
power like mine. It only takes one punch to win something so
I like the position I'm in.
How is the training, the preparation been for not just
taking on Caleb and also losing the weight and still keeping
the power that you had at 175 pounds?
Yes, I mean you just got to get scientific with it and
that's where I get smarter people than me around me and just
trusting the team. It's really about trust. Trusting that
the weights I'm pulling are where it needs to be and you're
getting the right carbs, the right amount of fats, the right
protein, all that stuff. So I have guys around me that have
been doing this their entire lives and understand that. So
in terms of preparation, everything gets ramped up for the
world ritle fight. The hunger is increased, the training
increases, you're working harder and smarter so I'm just
excited. I'm bringing this excited energy to all these
training sessions and that's what I've wanted for a long
time. I've been top 10 in the world for my past three, four
fights so this is what I've been waiting for.
Has it been easy shaking off the ring rust during camp with
the sparring and the training for this fight?
Yes, it really has been. We knew about this fight a long
time ago. This wasn't one of these things where I got a call
four weeks before, six weeks before, so I've been training,
I've been busy and we were just waiting for that phone call.
That was really it, the right opportunity. And I'm really
grateful my team gave me this opportunity here so yes we've
had a long time to prepare for this.
In your eyes, what do you think you possess that some of
Caleb past opponents don't have that would allow you to win
this fight and become world champion?
Well I'm an entirely different fighter, that's the beauty of
the sport. Every single fight is different. And so it
doesn't matter. I don't really care what his other opponents
have done in or out of the ring. It doesn't matter. On fight
night, the bell rings, it's just me and him. The best man
will win so I never really look into that. I'm telling you
what my opponents say. I've been in so many press
conferences where opponents either talk shit or they're
dismissive or they're respectful, all across the board. I've
beat them all. I plan on doing the exact same thing, so what
comes out of his mouth doesn't concern me whatsoever.
In terms of separation training like you were just talking
about, is there anything specifically that you're changing
or doing differently in preparation for Caleb Plant?
Not necessarily. I think, if anything, the weather has
gotten better so we've done some more beach workouts and
whether it's shadow boxing or strength and conditioning --
whatever it is on the beach, always helps. We've increased
sparring. Listen this is my 22nd fight so we're not trying
to reinvent the wheel here so in a sense, it's not like
we've really added too much.
From your surrounding team and the people in your corner,
how important have they been in the weeks that you've been
training and preparing for this fight?
It's huge. It's everything. That team is going to war with
you and you've got to surround yourself with people that
believe in the same mission, belief in the same value in
anything in life, that's all of us. We're a brotherhood.
I've had the team for a long time and Jamal and Julian are
phenomenal and they see things I can't see and they help me
and push me and motivate me and this is a dream come true
for the entire team.
Jamal and Julian have been in corners for world title fights
already so it's nothing new to them. Teamwork is everything
and most importantly everyone having the same vision which
is exactly what we have.
You've worked with Ronnie Shields and now Jamal Abdullah.
What are some of the benefits or the greatest takeaways that
you can take from all three of them?
I've learned so much from them. Ronnie I'm still good
friends with. I turned pro with Ronnie in Houston, Texas and
I was down there with a bunch of world champions so at a
very early pro career I got to get in there with some of the
world's best and just learned. Ronnie is phenomenal. Big on
the fundamentals and just a calm, cool, collective guy. He's
been in the ring himself and I love Ronnie to death. He'll
be a friend for life.
Why the 13-month layoff between the Hernandez fight and the
If anything we were looking for the right fight. I wasn't
with a promoter and we were looking to sign and we were
talking to a lot of different promoters and certain
opportunities came up and then like always in boxing, they
say it's going to happen and it falls through. And you can't
believe anything until you sign the contract so obviously
after that fight, I took some time off, got back in the gym
and then it was a frustrating few months just kind of
waiting for that phone call. But we got it, so we're here.
I would think that you would look at maybe some things there
that previous opponents may have done with Plant that you
may have seen to take advantage of?
Yes, of course, you watch film. You definitely watch film
and you see what guys did well and didn't do well all of
that kind of stuff. I was just saying you don't really take
it to heart because those guys aren't me. You take it to
heart in terms of what you're looking at or you're staring
at in terms of film study and what not but it's the
mentality of knowing that, yes, it's good to have those
specifics down and a game plan down and certain combinations
and a strategy down but at the end of the day those guys
aren't me so that's what I meant about that.
Is there anyone you've faced whether it be sparring or were
actually in the ring with that's most like Caleb and why?
I don't know, I haven't fought him yet. Mo one specific
comes to mind in terms of but I've been fighting since I was
8-years old. I've been pro for 21 fights. I've been in and
out of pro camps sparring and I've sparred and been in the
ring with so many different guys so yes, you see a little
bit of everything.
Have you had like a standard eight-week training camp or is
it extended beyond that?
Yes, extended beyond that but, we didn't want to burn out so
it wasn't like we were boxing every single day. We were just
getting strength conditioning. Just getting the timing and
the rhythm down. I think that really helps as you ease into
it because I think too often fighters come into a training
camp and they're 25 pounds overweight or they're not in
shape yet and we had the luxury coming into camp in shape.
So camp wasn't about getting in shape necessarily and losing
weight as much as it was just fine-tuning things and keeping
How instrumental has Notre Dame been in this fight? What
have they done to kind of champion you on and do you expect
any Notre Dame Legends to appear at your fight?
Yes, absolutely. I've had a lot of Notre Dame guys call in
when they had their Notre Dame Day and Media Day and support
me whether it's buddies that I have known through the Notre
Dame community, guys that played football like Justin Tuck,
Golden Tate or just so many amazing people that I've met
through that community. Notre Dame has been phenomenal. They
got a camera crew coming out next week to spread the message
to the alumni network so I'm just super appreciative of that
community. It's taught me a lot. It's really matured me and
it's taught me a lot about giving back too.
They've been involved in pretty much all my fights
throughout my career involve in different children's
charities and Notre Dame charities and so it's been exciting
to be a part of that community and alumni network.
Have you had any updates on Tavion or if he was planning on
being at this fight?
Unfortunately, I don't think he'll be able to fly out to Las
Vegas but he just had a birthday that I sponsored and took
care of and made sure people were there and I'm still in
contact with him and I plan on seeing him after this fight,
so he'll be watching on TV but yes I got to bring him in the
ring and he held my belt. And I mean, it's a beautiful
moment when I've been able to really connect with a lot of
different kids whether it through Family Reach or different
children's charities and if I get a chance to do what I love
which is boxing and also give back, it's such a win-win. And
there's been many different cases of kids like Tavion that
I've helped along this way.
And it makes me really grateful for where I am and that I
have this platform and position to do it. So I'm still
involved in (Tavion's) life. Unfortunately, he got sick
again and will be going through another round of
chemotherapy so he won't be able to make the trip up to
Vegas which I was bummed on about but when I fly back to
Chicago with the belt, I'm excited to let him hold it.
What do you do differently for recovery and to kind of
manage the pain throughout camp and actually fight night
because of the disease?
Yes, it's known as ankylosing spondylitis. And yes when I
got diagnosed it was after almost two years in and out of
hospitals and even the fights that I had some layoffs where
things were really tough there was a dark hole in my life
and I never dealt with those moments and understand and my
immune system just shut down and it really took a long time
to really diagnose what was going on. And at the end of the
day a lot of it came down to my diet, a lot of it came down
to my mindset. I started changing the way I was thinking
about things and what I was eating and how I was eating it
and even getting off of all the medication that doctors had
me on was huge.
There's still days of pain. I still have to manage it but
I'm so far from where I was a few years ago and it's a
beautiful thing. I think ultimately I want to show people
that whether it's doctors, whether it's anybody, obviously
you have to trust what doctors say but at the end of the day
I think the human will is the strongest thing and so I think
it's beautiful and I'm grateful that I'm in this position to
fight the world title. And doctors told me to my face, I'd
never box again and here we are July 20. I get to fight in
front of millions of people and win a world title. I'm so
grateful and happy. I can't even imagine how happy I'm going
to be the next day with that belt, but regardless it seems
like yesterday I was sitting in those hospital beds and so
here we are. I'm very excited and grateful.
Mike, final comment, as you prepare for your showdown coming
up in a few weeks' time in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Garden
Arena, as you collide against Caleb Plant.
Thank you for everybody's time. Once again, I'm excited.
This is an incredible opportunity and I will make the most
of it and I think I'm going to shock a lot of people. I know
that this is my moment and as moments get bigger and bigger,
I perform better and better. So I'll see everybody July 20
and thank you again.
Now let's turn our attention over to the man that Mike Lee
is going to be standing across the ring from. First of al,l
we're going to acknowledge when I mention it's a family
affair, it is certainly a family affair with Caleb Plant as
well. His father Richie Plant, he's his co-trainer. His lead
trainer is Justin Gamber, who is constantly immersing
himself in studying the sport of boxing and learning about
the history and working on different methods that will
benefit Caleb. Also Larry Wade who is a sensational and a
world class strength and conditioning coach.
Eighteen bouts, 18 victories, 10 of those coming by way of
knockout. Just 26 years of age, originally from Nashville,
Tennessee and now residing and training in Las Vegas,
Nevada. He has been undefeated since turning professional
back in 2014 and after the world title in January where he
knocked down Jose Uzcategui twice in round two on his way to
a unanimous decision. I have had the very good fortune of
getting to know Caleb Plant for the past several years and
what I could tell you about Caleb Plant is that in my
opinion he is so focused, so determined and the thing about
Caleb Plant is when he says something, he follows through
and it becomes a reality.
He knew years ago he was going to be a world champion. The
determination on Caleb Plant is second to none. So ladies
and gentlemen, without further ado, please welcome the
reigning and defending IBF Super Middleweight Champion of
the World, Caleb "Sweethands" Plant. Caleb, if you have
opening comments then give us an idea of how training camp
has been going. You look terrific in videos that we see but
your initial thoughts.
I just want to thank all you guys for hopping on this call
with us. Really appreciate all the media. This is how people
know how we're doing and what we're doing and it gets us to
the rest of the world so I really appreciate you guys.
I want to thank my whole team and FOX, a beautiful platform
that we'll be performing on July 20. Camp is sensational.
It's literally the best camp I ever had. I'm sure you guys
get on the phone with a lot of fighters and they say that.
But this camp, I literally became a new monster and that's
exactly what you guys want to see July 20.
Is being on this type of stage going to add any extra
motivation to go out and have the best performance of your
I know it's a bigger stage. There's going to be a lot of
eyeballs on me. But I think they chose me for this event
because they know I'm the guy who's not going to let them
down. I think they know I'm the man for the job and that I'm
going to put on the show July 20. At the end of the day, get
in the ring, the bell rings and we fight so I don't really
feel any added pressure just it's a little more excited to
continue to show the world what I'm capable of.
From your perspective have there been any change of
mentality approaching a fight being the champion compared to
being the challenger?
Absolutely not. If he thinks that I'm not gunning for him
and I was gunning for Jose then he's sadly mistaken. So the
mentality has not changed. I don't feel like I'm the hunted,
I still feel like I'm hunting. I'm not satisfied. The goal
was not just to become a world champion, that was just one
goal. So in my eyes I'm 18 - 0. I'm only 26, I'm just
getting started. I'm gunning for him more than I was gunning
With winning the IBF title being a goal, is it safe to
assume that the goal is to unify the division and win the
other World Titles at 168 pounds?
Absolutely. If I'm not mistaken there's never been an
undisputed super middleweight champion so that's my goal, to
become the first undisputed super middleweight champion of
the world. But first things first, handle business July 20.
I don't care about any other fight. I don't care about any
other champions or what they're doing or what they've got
going on. The only thing I care about is July 20 and I'm
focused on is handling business.
Do you feel validated in a way as a fighter? Has your
confidence increased, do you feel stronger as a fighter now
knowing that you can beat a fighter at that top level?
I think it'd be hard to not be more confident after winning
a world title and not just one that was an easy one to knock
out of the park. Jose was considered the bogey man of the
division, someone nobody wanted to fight. I came in after a
year layoff, broke hand, hand surgery, no tune-up fight and
I knew I could get the job done. But I don't feel validated
in a sense of what I've accomplished. I'm happy but I'm not
content, so as I said, I'm gunning for him July 20. I'm
focused, I'm zoned in but at the same time I'm definitely
even more confident than I was before.
Can you describe how you rate him in terms of other
opponents you've faced? How would you compare him to some of
the fighters that you have fought as you were coming up as a
I respect everybody as a man but if somebody wants me to
respect their fighting skills then they got to make me do
that. Just like my past opponents, they've respected me as a
man but they didn't think that I'd be able to get the job
done and if I wanted them to respect my fighting skills then
I had to do it when the bell rang. I'm not looking for
validation from him and I'm sure hoping he is not looking
for it from me because he is not going to get it unless he
can maybe do it in the ring.
So as far as where I ranked with other fighters, I'm pretty
sure we all agree that he's not, he hasn't accomplished or
done some of the things that some of the other guys I fought
have, but at the same time, he's a different fighter
himself, he's a different guy. So as I've said before I'm
taking him just as serious as I've taken any of these other
guys. I've worked harder this training camp than I have in
any other training camp in my entire life and I'm telling
you, July 20 when the bell rings, you guys are going to see
a difference. You guys are going to see a new Caleb Plant.
Do you feel any added pressure not inside the ring but
outside the ring character-wise upholding the responsibility
of that title?
I've always tried to carry myself as a champion, talk as a
champion and train as a champion. I'm not a grown man, I'm a
growing man. So I'm going to continue to become better in
the ring. I'm going to continue to become a better man
outside the ring, but thus far I think I've done a good job
of handling that responsibility. I think if I just continue
to follow what I've done, I think I'll be on the right path.
Do you feel any animosity towards Lee personally or what are
some of your perspectives on him as a person?
I think that Mike Lee is not someone who tells the whole
truth. I have the inside scoop on a couple of different
things and so I don't know. But I have the same amount of
respect for him as anybody else who I step in the ring with,
which is none. If you want me to respect your fighting
skills, then you've got to make me do that. I'm not just
going to give you the respect that you want. July 20, when
the bell rings, if he wants me to respect anything in his
arsenal, then he's got to make me do that because he's not
To me, boxing is life or death. That's it. So I don't care
about anybody in his village, I don't care who lives there,
I'm coming to burn it down. So unless he's looking to do the
same thing with me, it's either going to be a long night or
a short night.
On July 20 just tune in and something my father has taught
me is the truth belongs to everybody and lies belongs to
individuals. I'm going to give you the truth July 20.
What were some of the things discussed from the mics between
you two when they weren't able to pick those comments up?
I don't know. I honestly couldn't even remember to tell you.
I told him to sit down and he sat down so I turned the
cameras and stood there with my belt. So but none of that is
really important. What's important is when we let our hands
fly so. That's all I care about.
Listen, does this guy really know what he's getting into?
The reason why I ask this is one, he's face off - it's the
first guys face in 13 months. Two, he's dropping down in
weight. Three, he's fighting a World Champion. Does he
really know what he's getting into?
No, he doesn't but that's okay. It's not my job. It's none
of our jobs to tell him otherwise. I'm going to let these
hands do the talking on July 20, but no, he's delusional.
He's never faced anybody like me. He's never even come
close. He just told you guys that he's not even getting the
sparring of anybody who even looks like me. How many people
do you think I can spar that fights like Mike Lee? How many
people do you think he can spare that look like me? And he
answered it for you. I don't even have to tell you. So no,
he has no idea but that's okay.
He's going to learn a lesson July 20 one that he can't be
taught. One that can only be taught by me, so. I don't like
him that much. I don't like anybody who's in the ring with
me. I don't want to be friends. I don't care about what
they've got going on. To me, boxing is life or death so if I
don't win, I don't get to go home because I won't have a
I don't think you've ever had a pro fight in Nashville, have
you? Would you like to do that at some point and bring
professional boxing into Nashville, a big-ticket fight?
That's something that I have not gotten to do yet but that's
something that we're really looking forward to and we're
close to getting it done. When they approached me with this
opportunity to fight here at MGM Grand, we were talking
about a couple different spots one of them being Nashville,
but I really loved this opportunity and they knew that I was
the man for the job to handle it in fashion. But definitely
I want to bring a big fight to Nashville at the big city. I
think Jeff Lacy and Jermain Taylor, they fought in
Nashville. There have been a couple of other big fights in
Nashville but I think that I could be the one to make it a
regular thing. So first thing is first, we'll handle
business July 20 and we'll go from there, but that's
something definitely that we're looking forward to in the
Do you still feel that you represent Nashville as a fighter?
Is that still an important part of your identity?
Nashville, that's who I am. I may reside in Las Vegas, but
Tennessee, that's what made me. Ashland City, Nashville --
those are the places that made me. I live in Vegas like I
said, but Nashville is always home that's the only important
part of me and it always will be.
How therapeutic has it been to go back in the ring and train
and prepare yourself for such a big event here coming down
here in a couple of weeks?
Boxing has always been like a sanctuary for me. It's been a
place that I could go and be somebody. I've said this in
other interviews that as a kid I was somebody that nobody
would want to be living in a place coming from a place where
nobody would want to be in. So when I got to go to the gym,
then I got to be somebody that everybody wanted to be. Even
at a young age, grown men looking up to me. "Oohing" and "Ahhing"
and I kind of got to be a superstar. And once I got back out
of those doors I had to go back to being that kid that
nobody wanted to be. And so that just kind of became like
addicting. it became like an addiction for me to want to be
there, want to be in the gym, not go home and just be a gym
Through everything that came and left in my life, through
all the things that I've lost, through all the things I've
been deprived of or haven't had, boxing has always stood by
my side and boxing has always been there for me through
thick and thin. Boxing is like a woman. If you treat her
right and you do good by her, then she'll stand by you and
she'll do right by you. But she's a jealous woman as well
and the difference between me and my opponent is I haven't
glanced off of her. I haven't endeavored into other things.
I haven't. Fear not the man who's thrown 10,000 kicks once
but fear the man who's thrown one kick 10,000 times. So
that's what I've done.
What should they be anticipating when they see you in action
here against Mike Lee for your championship? What do you
want to showcase that new audience of fans who may not be
too familiar with what you do or what you bring to the
They can expect fireworks. They can expect an entertaining
person, an entertaining fighter and Mike Lee won't make it
out the final bell so either he'll bail out before the final
bell or I'll bail him out myself but, either the way the
white flag is coming out. I'll wave it for him so it's going
to be one or the other.
Do you have any final words as you prepare to get back into
Again, I'm encouraging everyone to tune in. It's going to be
a great night of fighting. It's going to be a spectacular.
I'll be defending my world title in a spectacular fashion,
so this is something you guys aren't going to want to miss,
I can promise you.