Tennessee native has overcame poor childhood, heart-wrenching death of young daughter—trials Caleb Plant says have prepared him for the most important moment of his life this Saturday night on FOX.
For Caleb Plant, Saturday night’s fight against Rogelio “Porky” Medina isn’t just important. It’s vital.
“Porky is kind of like the gates to the Promised Land,” said Plant of his FOX-televised bout (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) that serves as the semifinal to the Devon Alexander-Victor Ortiz welterweight main event in El Paso, Texas.
“I get past this fight like I expect, everything I ever wanted is waiting on the other side. Everything I’ve ever been through inside of boxing and outside of boxing leads to this moment right here."
Plant, a 25-year-old super middleweight, has already been through plenty, from a childhood of abject poverty in dirt-poor Ashland City, Tennessee to the gut-wrenching death of his 19-month-old daughter, Alia, from a rare neurological condition.
“Basically, for most everyone, boxing is the hardest thing they will ever do,’’ Plant said. “But that’s not the hardest thing I’ve done. Not by a long shot."
Nursing an infant toward what you know will be a tragic ending, as Plant did — on five different occasions, he was told by doctors that his daughter would not survive the night — makes an assignment like facing the experienced and durable Medina in a title eliminator seem easy by comparison.
The truth is, Medina, who is 38-8 and has twice as many knockouts as the 16-0 Plant has had fights, is probably the toughest opponent Plant has yet faced in his 3-1/2 year pro career.
But according to Plant, becoming a world champion has been in his sights since he was a nine-year-old tagging along with his dad, Richie, to a boxing gym.
“From that moment, I knew what I wanted to be,’’ Plant said. “I was going to be a champion, and nothing else."
So strong is Plant’s desire for success in the ring, and the wealth and fame that goes with it, that he says, “There is no Plan B."
“This is it," he said. “No college, no 9-to-5, no nothing. I ain’t got no Plan B, I ain’t never had no Plan B. Plan B is for people who know that Plan A ain’t going to work. This is going to work.”
For Plant, Plan A is defeating Medina Saturday night in the 12-round co-main bout at the Don Haskins Convention Center. A win would likely propel him to No. 2 in the IBF ratings, and a looming showdown with champion Caleb Truax.
“ No college, no 9-to-5, no nothing. I ain’t got no Plan B, I ain’t never had no Plan B. Plan B is for people who know that Plan A ain’t going to work. This is going to work. ” Undefeated 168-pound contender Caleb Plant, on becoming a world champion
But before you start chuckling about the amusing possibility of boxing’s first-ever all-Caleb title fight, understand that to Caleb Plant, a meeting with Truax is no laughing matter.
“I don’t know him personally, but back when I was 12-0 and he had like 30-somethhing fights he was saying bad stuff about me, hoping that I’d get knocked out,” Plant said. “To me that don’t really make him look good. It’s almost like someone in the NFL talking down on a high-school football player."
So it is safe to assume that Plant, an easy-going sort, would look forward to a showdown with his namesake in the near future. “I want Truax’s ass, bad,” he said.
But first he has to get past Medina, a squat, awkward brawler from Sonora, Mexico who is listed at 5-10 but appears shorter, and whose headfirst style appears made for the rangy, 6-1, Plant.
“He’s the extreme bull and I’m the extreme matador,” Plant said. “Anytime you get that kind of stylistic matchup it’s going to be exciting."
There’s no disputing that Medina, 29, has faced the much tougher opposition since turning pro in 2007. It’s also true that he has lost to just about every recognizable name in his record, being stopped by David Benavidez last May and losing decisions to James DeGale and Jose Uzgategui and getting knocked out by Badou Jack in 2013.
“He’s been in a lot of wars and he’s taken a lot of punishment and I think that’s had an effect on him," Plant said.
Still, Plant said he will resist the urge to outdo Benavidez, who flashed impressive hand speed and punching power in scoring his eighth-round TKO over Medina. “I’m not trying to outdo anybody,’’ he said. “I’m in my own lane and I’m running my own race."
Instead, Plant is concentrating on marketing himself through endorsement deals with Campus Coin, a cryptocurrency targeting college students, Shoe Palace, and through his own social media app, Sweethands, which is also his nickname.
“Boxing is everything to me, but that doesn’t mean that’s all I’m going to do for the rest of my life,’’ Plant said. “There’s other things out there for me. When you’re this good-looking how could there not be?"
But first, there is Medina Saturday night, and perhaps later, Truax and beyond.
For Caleb Plant, that is Plan A. And until that fails, Plan B simply doesn’t exist.
Take a closer look at Caleb Plant, by checking out his fighter page.
- Caleb Plant