Boxer defends world title with TKO

By Teresa M. Walker, AP Sports Writer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Caleb “Sweethands” Plant knows exactly what he wants next after defending his IBF super middleweight championship in dominant fashion.

A fight to unify the super middleweight titles against David Benavidez, the WBC super middleweight champ.

“I know we’re both young in our careers, I know they’re trying to build us up and turn that into a mega-fight,” Plant said. “But I’m a fighter, and there ain’t no sense in waiting if you ask me. We can get it cracking whenever.”

Plant, 27, remained undefeated Saturday night with a technical knockout of Vincent Feigenbutz of Germany in the 10th round. He improved to 20-0 with his 12th knockout. This was his second title defense since beating Jose Uzcategui for the belt in January 2019, but the first in Plant’s hometown in a moment he had dreamed about growing up.

Referee Malik Waleed stopped the fight with 37 seconds left in the 10th after Plant’s uppercut snapped Feigenbutz’s head back, and Plant spread his arms out in celebration. He later dedicated his win to his late daughter and mother and Nashville.

“I was super fueled by the crowd tonight,” Plant said. “I could have gone all night. The whole city came out.”

This was the first major title fight in Nashville since July 19, 1997, when Frankie Liles defended his WBA super middleweight championship. Fans filled the lower bowl at Bridgestone Arena, and they were on their feet for Plant’s entrance into the arena. Plant wore an NFL Tennessee Titans’ jersey with his own name and the No. 1.

On his Titan blue trunks, Plant had “RIP Beth” for his  mother who was shot by a sheriff’s deputy in March 2019, and “RIP Alia” was on his  left thigh for his daughter  who died on Jan. 29, 2015, when Plant took her off life support.

Fans started chanting “Let’s go Sweethands” in the first round trying to will him to a quick victory. Plant outpunched Feigenbutz throughout, finishing with a 202-47 edge in punches landed.

In the sixth, Feigenbutz pinned Plant against the ropes with a flurry. Plant looked at Feigenbutz and simply shook his head back and forth signalling “No” to the roaring approval of the crowd before blowing a kiss at the German. He opened the ninth  throwing punches, including one to Feigenbutz’s face.

Feigenbutz, 24, had been a mandatory challenger for Plant. Feigenbutz held the WBA super middleweight title in 2016 and now is 31-3.

“I can’t disagree with the stoppage,” Feigenbutz said. “For the sport of boxing, safety is always first. The referee did a very good job. It was fair. To be a good winner you have to be a good loser.”

Plant noted Feigenbutz had been the No. 3-rated boxer in IBF with nobody currently ranked No. 1 or 2. Plant made clear he won’t simply wait for Benavidez and a unification fight.

“At the same time I’m not going to sit on the shelf and wait for nobody,” Plant said. “I’m the man to beat.”