The judges’ final tallies were 117-111, 116-112 and 115-113.
The highly anticipated showdown between super middleweight rivals turned into the intriguing clash of styles that many predicted it would be, as Plant’s boxing acumen carried the early action until the brute force and high-volume power punching of Benavidez took over. After 12 grueling rounds in front of a sold out arena, the two fighters squashed their years long beef, embracing and expressing their mutual respect.
The main event of Benavidez vs. Plant will replay Saturday, April 1 on SHOWTIME at 11:05 p.m. ET/PT.
“I know there was a lot said between us but in the end we settled this like men,” said Benavidez. “I’m happy we gave the fans the best rivalry of the year or the last five years. I’m just very happy.”
“It’s a big rivalry but that’s what boxing is all about,” said Plant. “We came here and settled it like men. I take nothing from David. We haven’t been the best of friends but we got into the ring and we settled it like men. That’s what you’re supposed to do. He’s a helluva fighter.”
According to CompuBox, Benavidez (27-0, 23 KOs) held a large advantage in power punches landed (180-68) but also out-landed Plant in jabs (30-23). Plant (22-2, 13 KOs) was the busier fighter, throwing 624 to Benavidez’s 551, but was unable to deter the late round onslaught from Benavidez.
“I knew I had to take it step by step and round by round,” said Benavidez. “Caleb is a tough fighter. He’s not going to give you everything in the first few rounds so you have to find him. But I feel like I didn’t just show that I was a power puncher tonight. I showed that I had defense and head movement and I was able to move around the ring and cut the ring off really good.”
Plant’s movement appeared to give Benavidez trouble throughout the early action, as Plant consistently landed two to three punch combinations and escape Benavidez’s counters. It wasn’t until round eight that Plant’s movement began to slow down and his attempts at holding were increasingly thwarted.
“I was trying to hold him when necessary, punch him when necessary, and throw my combinations when necessary,” said Plant. “But when the best get in there with the best, you roll the dice and someone is going to come out with their hand raised and someone will come up short. And one thing that I pride myself on is that I roll with the best in the world. I haven’t ducked anyone and maybe we can have a rematch in the future.”
As the fight moved into the championship rounds, Benavidez pushed forward more aggressively, busting Plant’s nose and peppering him with short hooks from all angles. Plant stayed on his feet for the final bell, but his final attempts to turn the tide were thwarted by Benavidez. Asked post fight about his future plans, Benavidez set his sights squarely on undisputed 168-pound champion Canelo Alvarez.
“I just want to tell everyone that I have a lot of respect for Canelo Alvarez but he has to give me that shot now,” said Benavidez. “That’s what everyone wants to see. Let’s make it happen.
Now the fans are calling for this fight, the legends are calling for this fight, so let’s make it happen.”