Plant eager to take another big leap forward with win over De Angel

Some 15 months into his pro career, Caleb Plant was cruising along at 9-0 with eight knockouts, six of which came in the first round. Despite that dominance, though, the Ashland City, Tennessee, native had yet to truly show off his skills.

Caleb Plant and Juan De Angel

Caleb Plant (left) and Juan De Angel have a combined 27 knockouts in 31 victories heading into their 10-round bout Tuesday night in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. (Ryan Greene/Premier Boxing Champions)

That would happen in Plant’s next two fights, which were separated by 39 days last fall. Facing Jamar Freeman (13-4-2, 7 KOs) and Tyrone Brunson (22-5-1, 21 KOs), Plant displayed superior footwork, power, patience and a solid chin in winning consecutive eight-round unanimous decisions.

“Caleb stayed patient, showing his pressure-fighting ability,” said Justin Gamber, Plant’s trainer. “Had Freeman opened up and exchanged with Caleb, he would have gotten KO’d, but it went the distance only because he was looking to survive.

“Brunson had 28 fights to Caleb’s 10 and was our most difficult fight yet. Caleb got caught with a couple of counters, but landed a number of good ones, also. It speaks volumes about ring generalship that Caleb showed a good chin and almost shut out Brunson. Caleb learned a lot in those fights.”

His education continues Tuesday night as Caleb Plant (13-0, 10 KOs) pursues his third straight stoppage when he faces Juan De Angel (18-4-1, 17 KOs) of Colombia. The 168-pound bout at the Sands Bethlehem Event Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, represents Plant’s first 10-round fight and his first main event (Fox Sports 1, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).

“I gained a lot of experience getting those rounds in the bag against Freeman and Brunson, cutting off the ring, breaking them down,” said Plant, who followed up those two wins with sixth- and fourth-round stoppages of Adasat Rodriguez on January 19 and Carlos Galvan on June 3, respectively.

“If De Angel wants to move away, I can cut the ring off and work the body for 10 rounds. If he wants to come at me, I’m in shape to stick and move and box for 10 rounds. I treat every fight like a world championship.”

Speaking of world championships, the 24-year-old Plant envisions himself one day challenging current 160-pound king Gennady Golovkin, who will pursue his 17th straight title defense and his 23rd consecutive stoppage victory against 147-pound champion Kell Brook on September 10.

“Gennady Golovkin has a stranglehold on the division at the moment,” Plant said. “But I’m gunning for him and anyone else who’s in my way. But first, I have to win this fight.”

That shouldn’t be much of a problem if you believe Gamber, who predicts an impressive performance against the heavy-handed De Angel.

A 29-year-old who is eight years into his pro career, De Angel was riding a nine-fight winning streak (with 8 KOs) until May 5, when he suffered a sixth-round TKO loss to unbeaten Kanat Islam. De Angel’s last loss before that was by third-round knockout against unbeaten southpaw Gabriel Ramirez of Mexico, currently a 168-pound world champion.

At 5-foot-10, De Angel will be conceding three inches to the 6-foot-1 Plant, although both come in with a 74-inch reach. At Monday's weigh-in, Plant hit the scale at 167.2 pounds while De Angel came in at 163.4.

“I think De Angel will be more like Adasat Rodriguez, who was one-dimensional and tailor-made for Caleb,” said Gamber, who is assisted by Plant’s father, Richie. “[Despite] his knockout percentage, De Angel just doesn’t have the tools to deal with a multi-dimensional fighter like Caleb.”

De Angel begged to differ.

“Plant is strong and he counters well, but he gets hit hard and often,” he said. “I’ve had experience in big fights, and I’m going to do my best to put my hands on him. I’m thankful for this opportunity, and I’m going to make the most it.”

If De Angel does indeed press the action, Plant said he’ll be more than happy to engage.

“If he comes forward, then I’ll blister him with some heat, and if he doesn’t, then I’ll break him down,” he said. “I feel like De Angel’s going to get frustrated, come forward, run into something and get stopped.

“I want fans to watch this fight and come away saying that I’m an entertainer, so I’m winning in impressive fashion.”

For full coverage of Plant vs De Angel, check out our fight page.

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