Hall of Famer and former two-division world champ Bernard Hopkins is picking Caleb Plant to beat David Benavidez when the two fighters meet on March 25 in Las Vegas. Despite the general public seeming to lean towards the mega-aggressive, power-punching Benavidez, Hopkins sees something in Plant that might lead him to victory.
“I like Plant. Not only do I like his spirit and how he comes to fight, but I also think he has the style and the opportunity right now; he has the most mental,” Bernard Hopkins told Fight Hub TV.
“He [Plant] might not have the most talent out of both of them, but I believe he has the worth ethic and blue-collar mentality. I just think he wins the fight and shocks everybody and wins. It’s not easy, but he’s not going to have as much difficulty as people predicted.
“I think this is going to be one of those upsets that people, if they want to call it that, are going to be surprised about. I like him to win. I see the consistency that he does, and he knows that you don’t get too many chances like that, and he had a few, and I don’t think he’s going to pass up on it.
“I think he’s more hungry to win, and it’s not just because of what’s been going on with the back & forth and all that. You can read two ways in that. One way we know that they’re promoting it.
“Past that, I just believe he [Plant] has the better grit that he wants it more, and I think if he fights the fight that he’s been fighting lately, I don’t think it’s going to be as difficult as you think it’s going to be,” Hopkins said.
It’s not hard to understand why Hopkins, of all people, is seeing the path to victory of the slicker, more crafty boxer over the aggressive power fighter. As a crafty, savvy boxer himself, he’s been where Plant is– an underdog against an opponent deemed too much for him and likely to overwhelm him with offense. Two of Hopkins’ signature victories– over Felix Trinidad in 2001 and Kelly Pavlik in 2008– featured him using his guile and boxing ability to virtually shut out opponents who were favored to put him down. Clearly, he’s projecting himself into Plant’s shoes.
“It will be a decision fight unless someone gets cut, but other than that, I think it’ll be a hard fight,” Hopkins said. “I think both fighters will spend two fights of their career come that night of the fight.”
“The bad blood is true, but I just think that these taller, longer arms [of Benavidez], Plant is going to take that away because Plant likes to fight the way he likes to fight, and I don’t think that’s going to change in this fight.
“I think it’s going to be a fight of will more than the heart. It’s going to be the will that wins this fight. I think he’s [Benavidez] an excellent fighter. I just think this is a bad match-up for him. He might fire the matchmaker after this fight.
“I just think that if you look at his style and pay attention to where he started and where he’s at, you wouldn’t think he’s a boogeyman,” Hopkins said of Benavidez.
Plant and Benavidez meet March 25 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, atop a Showtime/Premier Boxing Champions PPV event in a bout for Benavidez’s interim WBC super middleweight title.