Undefeated former two-time WBC Super Middleweight Champion David “El Bandera Roja’’ Benavídez and former IBF Super Middleweight Champion Caleb Plant continued their war of words and nearly came to blows at a tense press conference in Los Angeles Thursday before they settle their years-long rivalry in a 12-round showdown that headlines a SHOWTIME PPV on Saturday, March 25 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.
Benavídez and Plant met at the Conga Room at L.A. Live less than two months before their long-awaited clash, as the hungry super middleweights look to settle their score in one of boxing’s most anticipated showdowns. Both have had reigns as champions at 168 pounds and both are eager to ascend to the top of the division as they fight for Benavídez’s Interim WBC Super Middleweight title. As the two exchanged insults on stage and the barbs grew more personal, security twice had to intervene to keep them apart during the proceedings.
Here is what the Benavidez and Plant had to say Thursday from Los Angeles:
“On March 25, I guarantee that I’m knocking Caleb Plant out before round six.
“This has been a fight in the making for the last five years and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m at my best right now mentally and physically. On March 25, I finally get to put hands on Caleb Plant.
“When you’re on the ground bleeding, you’ll learn how to respect a real fighter. I’m what you want to be. You’re a chump.
“He had a sensational win against Anthony Dirrell and I take nothing away from that. 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.
“The fans want to see a knockout. He can act like I’m not like that, but just look at my record. Look at how everyone looks after they fight me. I don’t play around. That’s what I do and he’s no different from any fighter I’ve ever fought.
“This is the most important fight of my career to this date. I feel like after this fight, I’m going to pass that threshold and get to where I want to be. Every fighter has one of these grudge matches that brings the best out of them. I don’t like Caleb at all, but I want to thank him for bringing the animal out of me. I’m more motivated than ever.
“I can’t wait to give my fans a great knockout. We know that this isn’t gonna be easy. It’s gonna be grueling. But I’m ready to get in there and knock this guy out.
“He knows how the canvas feels and I’m putting him back on that. You’re gonna be laying down again.
“You got knocked out already and I’m gonna do the same thing to you again. I’m putting you to sleep.”
“We got a big fight on our hands. That’s what boxing needs. I want to be someone who helps deliver that to the boxing world and I’m sure Benavidez does too.
“After the Canelo fight, I said that I wanted to make the biggest fight possible. They came back with two-time champion Anthony Dirrell for a title eliminator. I knew I was next in line to fight the interim champ before that fight, and that meant David Benavidez. I’m in the fight that I want.
“You don’t have to worry about me showing up on March 25. This isn’t my first big fight. I’ve been here before.
“We’re both at the top of the division. This rivalry only started because we agree to disagree on who’s better. And that’s fine, he should feel like that. That’s how great fighters are supposed to feel. It’s slowly built up over time.
“I’m coming. 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 an incredibly important fight and it’s perfect timing for it to happen. This kind of fight sends a message to all the other fighters that it’s time to step up and take big fights. Boxing needs fights like this. This is a legacy fight for me and my team. On March 25, I see myself getting my hand raised.
“I’ve fought in Las Vegas before and it’s what every kid who has ever laced up a pair of boxing gloves dreams of – fighting on the biggest stage at MGM Grand and on pay-per-view.
“I never said David’s a bad fighter because I have no interest in fighting bad fighters. I want to fight good fighters and make big fights. This is the best fight that could be made in the division.”