The unbeaten super middleweight contender is guaranteeing victory in Sunday night's IBF title fight vs Jose Uzcategui on FS1—believing he is the next king of the 168-pound division.
Caleb Plant knew something was wrong almost instantly. After landing a punch on his sparring partner’s elbow, his left hand felt like it was swelling into a balloon.
Plant pulled his hand free from the glove. As soon as he looked at it, he sensed trouble. It was a puffy, contorted mess. An August 2018 bout versus IBF world super middleweight champion Jose Uzcategui was just a month away. But in that moment, Plant knew it wasn’t happening.
Hopes dashed with one punch—though not completely gone.
Six months later, what seemingly was a disaster has blossomed into a second chance for the 6-foot-1, 26-year-old from Nashville, Tennessee. Plant says he feels stronger, smarter and far more prepared for Uzcategui now. The anticipated match takes place this Sunday, January 13, at Microsoft Theatre at L.A. Live, in Los Angeles on FS1 and FOX Deportes (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT).
Plant’s broken left hand is fully healed after undergoing surgery for the first time in his life. Following a quick but arduous rehab, he was back in the gym by October.
“The rehab center where I worked said they never saw anybody ever go through rehab that fast,” he said. “I couldn’t hit anything until October. When I first heard that I broke my hand, it was disheartening. But I’ve been through bigger and harder obstacles than that.”
By late October, Plant fully trusted his left hand, knowing each time he threw it, it wouldn’t come apart. It was, in many ways, just like the fighter himself, forcefully moving forward despite the cracks that came with it.
The worst blow occurred on Thursday, January 29, 2015. That was the day Alia, Plant’s 19-month-old daughter, died after losing her battle with Aicar Transformylase/Imp Cyclohydrolase Deficiency, a rare condition with only two known cases worldwide. Alia was one of them.
“I had Alia at a young age, and not only did I have a child at a young age, I had a disabled child at a young age,” Plant said. “That’s what turned me into a man and the responsibilities that come with it. I have a tattoo of the date Alia died.
“It’s something I think about every day. What happened to me and my daughter will always be a part of me. Something like that happens to you, it changes you. That’s why I say it turned me into a man.”
“ What happened to me and my daughter will always be a part of me. Something like that happens to you, it changes you. That’s why I say it turned me into a man. ” Unbeaten 168-pound contender Caleb Plant
Having gone through that, a little broken hand wasn’t going to derail Plant.
“I want to be a world champion, and to be so close to making my dreams happen, it was depressing, but each day, I kept going back to the gym, working on my right, working on my conditioning,” he said. “I don’t think I learned anything new about myself. It was just another ordeal that I had to go through. I’ve been doing it all my life.”
Plant, 17-0 (10 KOs), will carry his life experiences into the ring against Uzcategui. He’ll need everything in his arsenal to topple the lanky Venezuelan who, at 6-foot-2, is an inch taller than Plant, and possesses a 76.5-inch reach to his 74.
Uzcategui’s last loss came via controversial disqualification against Andre Dirrell in May 2017, when referee Bill Clancy ruled Uzcategui hit Dirrell after the bell ended the eighth. At the time, Uzcategui was up on two of the three scorecards.
In March 2018, Uzcategui got his revenge, stopping Dirrell in the eighth round of their rematch to win the interim IBF world super middleweight title. His status has since been upgraded to IBF world super middleweight champion.
Plant envisions himself wearing that belt around his waist at some point on Sunday night. Further, the man known as “Sweethands” believes he knows Uzcategui, 28-2 (23 KOs), better than the champion knows him.
“I don’t have to concern myself with nowhere near as much as what he has to concern himself with me,” Plant promised. “When I was recovering from the broken hand, I studied film of him. He’s a rough, rugged guy. He’s tough, but sometimes tough is not enough. I know he’s a pressure fighter who will come forward and try and cut the ring off.
“I’m going to make things happen. I trust my left hand. A new king is going to be crowned. It doesn’t matter how the job is going to get done. I can guarantee you everything that needs to be done will be done. And I can guarantee you’re going to hear, ‘And the new!’”
For a complete look at Uzcategui vs Plant, check out our fight page.