LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Venezuelan Jose Uzcategui fights to prove he’s worthy of being a world champion while US challenger Caleb Plant fights in memory of his 19-month-old daughter who died in 2015.
Plant faces Uzacategui today in Los Angeles for the International Boxing Federation super middleweight crown, a throne Uzcategui defends for the first time after inheriting it last July.
Britain’s James DeGale, an English southpaw, vacated the IBF title six months ago to pursue bigger-money fights than his mandated bout against Uzcategui, who went from interim to full champion without stepping in the ring.
“I’m 100 per cent focussed on Caleb Plant, but my New Year’s resolution is to unify the 168-pound division,” said Uzcategui, 27-2 with 23 knockouts.
“I don’t respect Caleb Plant. He has talked too much and I will punish him, beat him up and then knock him out.”
Plant, 17-0 with 10 knockouts, enters his first world title fight of a career dedicated to his late daughter Alia, who was born with a medical condition that caused seizures. She died of a respiratory infection that developed into pneumonia but her memory motivates the 26-year-old from suburban Nashville, Tennessee.
“I’ll be stepping between those ropes for Alia,” Plant said. “I’m stepping between those ropes for the people of my city and state and for the people who come from the very bottom.”
Plant had not gone 12 rounds until winning a unanimous decision over Mexico’s Rogelio Medina last February to earn his first world title chance. The bout was delayed from last September after Plant broke his left hand in training, forcing surgery and a long rehabilitation.
“This is something I’ve always wanted,” Plant said. “He’s a rough rugged guy who comes forward and I know he’s coming to win. I really think that with our styles, this is going to be fireworks.”