After several years of obvious animosity, the verbal war between Caleb Plant and David Benavidez has increased in recent days, following the confirmation of their fight on March 25th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

The elimination bout at 168 pounds, which will be broadcast by Showtime via PPV, has a special significance as the winner automatically becomes the mandatory challenger for Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez, who currently holds the WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO titles.

However, neither Benavidez nor Plant are guaranteed an expedited path to face Canelo. Under the best of circumstances, the winner will have to wait until 2024.

Canelo (58-2-2, 39 KOs) first plans to cross gloves against southpaw John Ryder (32-5, 18 KOs) next May and then in September he has a rematch scheduled with Dmitry Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs). Bivol beat Canelo in 2022 by unanimous decision while defending his 175-pound WBA super champion belt.

Benavidez, who was born on December 17, 1996, became the youngest world champion in history at 168 pounds after defeating Ronald Gavril (22-3, 18 KOs) by split decision on September 8, 2017, in Las Vegas. Benavidez was three months and nine days shy of his twenty-first birthday.

However, things came crashing down for Benavidez the following year when he lost the title after testing positive for a cocaine compound during a doping test. He was suspended for six months and declared "champion in recess".

Returning to competitive action in September 2020, he regained the title after knocking out Anthony Dirrell (34-3-2, 25 KOs) in the ninth round at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

In his next fight, Benavidez's lack of discipline caused him to lose the WBC championship belt on the scales the day before fighting Roamer Alexis Angulo at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut. Benavidez won that fight, as Angulo did not come out for the tenth round after receiving a great deal of punishment in the preceding rounds.

Twenty-six-year-old Benavidez has six consecutive knockouts and a total of 16 in his last 17 bouts. In May of last year Benavidez celebrated his most recent victory by way of chloroform in the third round against David Lemieux (43-5, 36 KOs), seizing the WBC Interim title at 168 pounds.

Former IBF champion Plant (he lost the belt to Canelo in November 2021) also fought Anthony Dirrell and knocked him out in the ninth round in October 2022 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

While the undefeated, former two-time world champion Benavidez (26-0, 23 KOs) and former title holder Plant (22-1, 13 KOs) are preparing for their upcoming fight, Canelo predicted that Benavidez will win as he is the stronger and younger fighter. That being said, Benavidez and Plant obviously have their own opinions and appear to share a deep dislike for each other.

“This is what people want to see – two guys who really don’t like each other go at it. It does motivate me. I’m a professional. I’m not going into the fight with a lot of emotions,” said Benavidez. “Mentally, you have to put yourself in a situation to get the most out of it. I do not like this guy at all. I really want to put a beating on him, and I’m going to get to do it on the biggest stage possible. This is how it is. I am ready for anything, and whatever comes with it.”

“I’m predicting a sixth-round knockout because I wanted to put a little bit more pressure on myself. When I put pressure on myself, the best comes out of me. I’m excited. I feel it. I feel that this is my moment,” Benavidez added. “I’ve been putting in work as a professional for 10 years. I’ve had bad things and good things happen to me. Everything has happened to me for a reason. I’m going to be the best David Benavidez on March 25th. This is going to be the Fight of the Year and knockout of the year.

“This is the best time this fight could have happened. It was the right move for both of us. I’ve been wanting to fight him for a long time and now the winner of this fight gets to be the mandatory for Canelo Alvarez. I’m super motivated. This is going to be a fantastic fight not just for me but for the fans. The fans are going to see an amazing show. It’s going to be a great night of boxing on March 25th.”

At 30 years old and a native of Nashville, Tennessee, Plant acknowledged that Benavidez is a good fighter and he has wanted to face him for a long time. “I never said David’s a bad fighter because I have no interest in fighting bad fighters,” said Plant. “I want to fight good fighters and make big fights. This is the best fight that could be made in the division.”

“Mentally I am relaxed, calm, and focused. I just want to get the job done. I don't let outside voices dictate how motivated or disciplined I am. I'm going to be just as focused, training hard and locked in,” Plant commented. “I’m coming,” he said. “We’re prepared. I’ve been at this level before and I know what it takes. From now until March 25 it’s just about who can train the hardest and keep their foot on the gas. This is a legacy fight for me and my team. On March 25th I see myself getting my hand raised.”

Article submitted by Jorge Juan Álvarez in Spanish.

Please note any adjustments made were for clarification purposes and any errors in translation were unintentional.