LOS ANGELES — Caleb Plant promised his daughter Alia before she passed away that he was going to win a world title.
On January 13, 2019, Plant fulfilled his promise.
Plant stole the IBF super middleweight title from Jose Uzcategui on Sunday at Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles in a dominating performance in the main event of PBC on FS1.
Plant knocked down Uzcategui twice en route to a unanimous decision. Two judges turned in scores of 116-110, and a third had it 115-111. FightNights.com scored the fight 117-109 for Plant.
“I’ve worked my whole entire life for this,” said Plant, who had not fought since outpointing Rogelio Medina in February 2018. “Boxing 17 hard years. I buried my daughter in the process of trying to get this belt. I promised I would bring her this title and that is what I am going to do.”
The Las Vegas-based Plant (18-0, 10 KO's), 26, utilized his jab and head movement in the early rounds to frustrate Uzcategui, who was coming forward and applying a lot of pressure.
Plant dropped Uzcategui with a left hook in the second round and followed it up with another knockdown in the fourth, but it did not come without a little adversity.
An accidental headbutt caused a cut above Plant's right eye, but Plant turned right around and sent Uzcategui to the floor again with a counter left hook.
“I knew I caught him clean during those knockdowns, but I knew he wasn’t all the way out, so I took my time,” said Plant. “I stayed relaxed, I stuck to the game plan and got it done just like I said I would.
“This is overwhelming. I am a kid who came from nothing. I believed in myself, and now I’ve been crowned king.”
Uzcategui cut off the ring effectively in rounds five and six, but was very hesitant to let his hands go, as Plant continued to land leather on him.
The seventh was a close round as Uzcategui connected with some hard shots late, but Plant rebounded with solid uppercuts to take control of the eighth.
Uzcategui (28-3, 23 KO's), 28, a Venezuela native living out of Tijuana, Mexico, who was elevated to a full titleholder when former titlist James DeGale elected to vacate rather than make a mandatory defense against him, promised to knock out Plant in the buildup to the fight.
Uzcategui had his chance in the ninth round when he badly Plant with a huge left hook. Plant's legs were shaking, but somehow was able to keep Uzcategui off of him.
Uzcategui came on strong again in the 10th round as Plant was bleeding from his nose, as well as his earlier cut. Uzcategui landed some heavy punches, but Plant was moving and holding to kill time.
Uzcategui, knowing he needed a knockout to win, could not muster enough energy to get the job done.
“I did feel that I had the advantage heading into the fight,” said Uzcategui. “I went down because I was off balance, but I wasn’t hurt. He started to get tired around the sixth round, which was the plan. Caleb knew how to clinch and hold. He was smart. He knew how to stay away from the punches.
“I expected more movement and more boxing out of him. I would love the rematch. I think everyone saw a great fight tonight. I gave him the chance at the title, and I would hope he would give me the chance to win it back.”