There’s no doubt who boxing’s Fighter of the Year is for 2021.
Canelo Alvarez (57-1-2, 38 KOs) had perhaps a slightly tougher time than expected against Caleb Plant (21-1, 12 KOs), but the Mexican superstar delighted the fans at MGM Grand in Las Vegas with a brutal 11th round knockout of the American to take Plant’s IBF super-middleweight title and have sole possession of all four major belts (WBA, WBC, WBO, IBF) in the 168 lbs division.
Plant did have his moments throughout the contest, particularly in the center of the ring where he didn’t have Canelo stalking and pressuring him. ‘Sweet Hands’ showed off his skills with fast combinations, effective body punching, and good work off of the counter. When it looked like Canelo would turn the fight into a blowout, Plant fought back well in the middle rounds and acquitted himself fairly well. Unfortunately for him, while he has a pretty good left hook, a sharp jab, and underrated defensive work, Canelo is just the master of his sport. Alvarez was aggressive with his hooks to the body and he’s just the naturally harder puncher. Alvarez got tagged cleanly several times but didn’t look to have much respect for Plant’s power.
In the 11th round, with Plant needing a knockout to win, it was Canelo who delivered the finishing blows. That left hook that had been money for Alvarez all night stunned Plant, followed by a right uppercut and another left to put Caleb down for the first time in his career. Plant was on wobbly legs when he returned to his feet, and after Russell Mora gave him the eight-count and let the fight continue, Canelo just went on an all-out attack and decked him one more time for the knockout victory.
Official result: Canelo Alvarez def. Caleb Plant by TKO at 1:05 of round 11 to become WBA, WBC, WBO, and IBF super-middleweight champion
Scorecards at the time of the stoppage were 98-92, 97-93, and 96-94 all in favor of Canelo. Bloody Elbow scored the contest 97-93 for Alvarez.
It’s hard to dispute Canelo’s place as boxing’s top pound-for-pound fighter. He unified the super-middleweight division in the span of 11 months, and he wraps up his 2021 going 3-for-3 with all of his victories coming by KO or TKO. Plant validated himself as a top-flight fighter, but Canelo is just better. Plain and simple.
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