Sports

Canelo, Plant trade punches at news conference

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Canelo Alvarez and Caleb Plant started their scheduled fight more than a month early.

The two boxers got into an ugly punching exchange during a staredown at a news conference Tuesday at the Beverly Hilton hotel. Alvarez and Plant are scheduled to fight for the unified super middleweight title Nov. 6 in Las Vegas. ESPN has Alvarez ranked No. 1 on its pound-for-pound boxer list.

Alvarez and Plant went nose to nose and exchanged words during the staredown. Alvarez told ESPN that Plant called him a “mother f—er,” which set Alvarez off. Alvarez shoved Plant back. Plant then came forward with a left hook. Alvarez dodged it, though it might have grazed him, and then followed with a punching combination.

“He started talking a lot of things,” Alvarez said. “I answered. Then the bad thing he said ‘You motherf—er.’ You can say whatever you want to me, but not to my mother. My mother is not here.”

Plant was left with a cut under his right eye and Alvarez was bleeding from a very small cut on his left forearm. The press conference resumed, though tensions remained high. The two had to be separated one more time before they were escorted off the stage.

“He landed first,” Alvarez said. “And then I don’t know how, but I responded quickly. I don’t know how. I just do it.”

Plant told ESPN that he doesn’t understand why Alvarez got upset with the use of that word when Alvarez used it with Demetrius Andrade at the press conference following Alvarez’s last fight in May. The clip of Alvarez using the word went viral. “Wasn’t he saying that?” Plant said. “But now all of a sudden those words mean something completely different? … Now all of a sudden I’m talking about his mama? C’mon man. That don’t even make no sense.”

It was unclear if Plant’s cut would delay the fight, but Alvarez said it was just a small cut. Plant told the media that the cut was due to the sunglasses he was wearing in the exchange.

“It’s a fight,” Plant said of the skirmish. “If he’s gonna turn it into a fight, then that’s what it is. I’m not no punk. You don’t just get to stand up here and do whatever you want to me. Maybe the rest of these guys, you can just come up and here and they’re all scared of you. … That’s now how this works.”

Plant has been blasting Alvarez and his camp run by coach Eddy Reynoso for weeks. Alvarez’s training partner Oscar Valdez tested positive for a banned substance, though was not suspended for it, which Plant has taken umbrage with. Plant has accused Reynoso’s team, including Alvarez, of using performance-enhancing drugs. Alvarez was suspended six months in 2018 for the banned substance clenbuterol, which Alvarez and his team claim came from tainted meat in his home country of Mexico.

“Is taking illegal substances, is that insecurity?” Plant said of Alvarez. … “Does that stem from insecurity? Because taking illegal substances, that doesn’t stem from confidence. That stems from fear.

“He may be upset with me, but there’s no need to be upset with me. He should be upset with himself. There’s nothing I’ve done. These aren’t by my rules and my standards.”

Alvarez said he has no response to Plant’s barbs and his words – and the way he conducted himself at the press conference – are a statement about who he is as a person.

“He’s a very insecure person,” Alvarez said. “You can see in his body language. That’s all I take [from it]. He lost [confidence]. In his mind, he lost already because he [thought] different, like he’s gonna come into the fight trying to punish me. But he’s in a dangerous place.”

Alvarez (56-1-2, 38 KOs), who last fought in May when he shattered Billy Joe Saunders’ orbital bone en route to a ninth-round TKO, holds three of the four belts in the super middleweight division.

Plant (21-0, 12 KOs), ESPN’s No. 3 boxer at 168 pounds, holds the other belt in the division. He last fought in January posting a unanimous-decision victory over Caleb Truax to keep his unbeaten record intact.

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