In a battle of former super middleweight champions, "Sweethands" Plant delivers a brilliant one-punch KO win and reminds the 168-pound division that he remains one of the very elite.
In boxing, bad blood often leads to good fights.
Caleb “Sweethands” Plant and Anthony “The Dog” Dirrell had been circling each other for years before the two finally met on October 15, 2022 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. The animosity reached fever pitch at the inaugural press conference in New York where the two former super middleweight world champions exchanged more verbal barbs.
“Leading up to this fight, he’s had a lot to say about me, how much he hates me and don’t like me, and nobody else likes me. But I’m not here to talk about emotions, this ain’t a therapy session. I’m here to do a job,” Plant said.
“You keep bringing up the same sh- I don’t like you. I don’t have to like you,” Dirrell emphasized. “Tell me who he’s fought? He fought nobody. Caleb hasn’t shown me anything special. Period. In any fight.”
Both fighters had a lot riding on their battle. Plant, the former IBF 168-pound champ, was coming off his first career defeat, a November 2021 TKO loss to Canelo Alvarez for the undisputed super middleweight crown in a competitive battle that featured one of the better build-ups in recent years.
On that same card, Dirrell scored a highlight-reel KO win over Marcos Hernandez. The former two-time WBC 168-pound titlist was eager for one last title shot but would have to go through Plant in order to obtain it.
The Big Apple crowd was buzzing as Dirrell made his way to the ring. Plant followed, striding to the ring to the sounds of Method Man and Redman’s “Da Rockwilder,” an east coast classic which brought the crowd out of their seats.
Typically a boxer, Plant was the aggressor early on, a nod to new trainer Stephen “Breadman” Edwards, who had told the media that Plant had more power than they realized. Dirrell fought fire with fire as both landed hard shots on the other. Their disdain for each other was also apparent in the number of times they wrestled each other to the floor, mocked one another and traded more trash talk in each round. Referee Harvey Dock displayed immense patience although he was forced to intervene several times.
Plant reverted to boxing in the middle rounds. Few foresaw what would happen in the ninth round. It began with Dirrell landing a nice right hand. The two circled each other, probing for more opportunities. Then, in the closing moments of the frame, “Sweethands” unloaded a sizzling a left hook to the liver followed by one upstairs, a combination he had thrown repeatedly throughout the fight. This time, however, he paused just a moment before unloading the hook which landed square on Dirrell’s jaw, causing his head to swivel and sending him to the canvas in a heap. No count was needed. Plant improved his record to 22-1 (13 KOs) while Dirrell’s record fell to 34-3-2 (25 KOs).
The Barclays crowd roared their approval at the monumental KO they had just witnessed. Prior to the start of the fight – during the fighter introductions – Plant wore a black tee shirt with white lettering which read, “You don’t know me enough to hate me” – a clear shot at Dirrell. Following the knockout, Plant put on a new black shirt, one that said, “But now you do.”
The outcome concluded one of the most dramatic rivalries in boxing history that was long overdue. But the achievements for Plant sees no foreseeable end, as his one-hitter quitter left hook, nine-round knockout victory summed up an unforgettable moment to earn The Premier Boxing Champions Knockout of the Year Award for 2022.
For a closer look at Caleb Plant, check out his fighter page.