Plant Devours German in Nashville
By Robert Ecksel on February 16, 2020
Feigenbutz bled from his left nostril less than two minutes in. (AP Photo/Brett Carlson)
NASHVILLE, Tennessee—Saturday night at Breakstone Arena in Nashville, 27-year-old Caleb “Sweet Hands” Plant (20-0, 12 KOs), the reigning and defending IBF super middleweight champion from nearby Ashland City, celebrated his homecoming as world champion by devouring overmatched Vincent Feigenbutz (31-3, 28 KOs), his 24-year-old mandatory from Karlsruhe, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Using a blistering array of precision punches, Plant scored a TKO at 2:23 of round 10. With his quick hands, brilliant footwork, pinpoint accuracy and sky-high ring IQ, it’s time the world woke up and took notice.
Breakstone Arena is on Broadway, the primary thoroughfare through downtown Nashville. It’s a wide street by old-school standards, just two lanes moving in opposite directions. But its idealized main street flanked by historic facades has gone from yellowing daguerreotype to neon and plastic. Honky-tonk blares from every doorway. The siren song of commerce beckons. And in the midst of it sits Breakstone Arena.
There was no confusion as to who was champion and who was underdog in the main event. Feigenbutz is a good-looking kid, but his 82.35% KO ratio belied the fact he can’t hit a moving target. He tried. Again and again he tried. Then he tried harder. But the dream was over, the end of the line against a master boxer. Feigenbutz busted up early. He bled from his left nostril less than two minutes in. It added color to the proceedings, but was no contest in the end.
The uppermost seating of Bridgestone Arena was blocked off with translucent black cloth. Otherwise the house was full. I expected a ghost arena, a cavern of empty seats grudgingly accommodating a straggle of crazed fight fans. That was not the case. The joint was packed with Tennesseans who have followed Caleb Plant from the time he was a boy. There was always something special about Caleb. He was different. He was the one they talked about, the one they dreamed about, the one in a million who might defy the odds and someday become champion.
I was seated in the fourth row of the press box, forty feet from the ring. Those running the show couldn't have been more accommodating. Tim Smith, Premier Boxing Champions VP, captained the ship like a seasoned mariner with his eye on a distant shore. When I gave his colleague Kelly Swanson from Swanson Communications my BoxingNoir.com business card, she looked at it and said,"Boxing Noir? Is that like Film Noir?" and smiled. She has since bombarded my inbox with relevant emails. Plant is lucky to have powerhouse promotional players like them in his corner. Not only are they courteous. They also helped give millions the chance to watch Caleb Plant fight live on free TV. He's made for TV. As Muhammad Ali once said of his trainer Angelo Dundee, "He's got the right complexion to make the connection." But it's more than that. Caleb Plant is one hell of a fighter.
Watching boxing on TV is the norm for me and millions of others. There aren’t enough live boxing shows to go around. Boxing is a made-for-TV phenomenon, but live fights are where it's at. Whatever their relative merit or worth, there’s nothing like seeing two men fight live. Every fight fan should experience it at least once. TV is okay. HDTV is better. Hologram TV will be better still. But there’s nothing like seeing fights live.
The only celebrity I spotted was boxing’s bad boy, Adrien Broner. When he and his crew appeared on the floor the fans were on him like a flock of gulls. I was standing 15 feet away and didn’t recognize him at first. With an overgrown beard in need of a gardener obscuring half his face, it looked like Broner never stops eating. He must have weighed 200 lbs. His bandmates also had scruffy beards. They too were overweight. All of them dressed alike, members of the same team or club or cult, a secret society of identical sextuplets with nothing to do but spend money and look for trouble. They had tattoos on their bodies. They had pricey sneakers on their feet. Each of them wore an oversized shirt, a colorful Hawaiian number custom-made for fat men, festooned with portent symbols and veiled insinuations.
When Broner appeared, the loud music got even louder, louder than an atom bomb, even louder than disco. AB dug it. He closed his eyes. He tilted his head to the side and pursed his lips. Then he started to sway as if in a trance. Jewelry fit for a bank vault dangled from Broner's neck. It glistened like fool's gold in moonlight, a boutique mockery in a time of sexual healing. Dozens of fight fans, with posterity in mind, aimed their smart phones at the celebrity. I had seen enough and began to walk away, but stole a last glance at Broner. He was humping the leg of a white girl wearing a rawhide miniskirt and cowboy boots.
But the night belonged to Caleb Plant.