IBF super middleweight titleholder Caleb Plant is set to defend his belt for the first time as he faces Mike Lee on July 20, headlining on FOX just ahead of the Pacquiao-Thurman pay-per-view from Las Vegas.
Plant, 26, won his title on Jan. 13 in Los Angeles, outpointing rugged Jose Uzcategui and graduating from prospect to titleholder. One of the slicker fighters out there at 168, “Sweethands” plans to leave an impression on the boxing and larger sports audience, many of whom will be seeing him for the first time on July 20.
“I’m more than ready to return to the ring on July 20 as the main event on FOX at MGM Grand in Las Vegas,” said Plant. “I’ll be defending my IBF world title in tremendous fashion and this is one fight you guys will not want to miss. I’m taking this fight just as seriously as my last opponent.
“This guy is undefeated and looking to stay that way, but unfortunately for him, he took on the wrong challenge against the wrong guy. Come July 20, he’ll realize he’s in deeper water than he’s ever been in.”
Lee (21-0, 11 KO), if we’re being honest, is not seen as a serious threat to Plant. The 31-year-old fighter came into the pro ranks in 2010, with the big push from Top Rank at the time being, “Look! This guy went to Notre Dame!” as Bob Arum felt Lee could turn the sizable, national Notre Dame football fan base into a boxing fan base that would get behind a fighter with ties to the school. They got him into a Subway commercial alongside recognizable athletes.
All that never really worked out, with Lee suffering some setbacks outside of the ring, and while in the ring, kind of settling in as a club fighter who has become something of a local name in the Chicago area, with three of his last four fights coming in or near the city.
He’s also never fought at super middleweight, and will be coming down in weight. He’s going to be an absolutely enormous underdog. But, like anyone in his position, he says he’s coming to prove the doubters wrong.
“I’ve have dreamt of the opportunity to fight for a world title for years,” said Lee. “All the years of hard work, pain and sacrifice have led me to this moment. On July 20 I will be victorious and prove everyone wrong that didn’t believe I was good enough to even get here.
“When I spent almost two years in and out of hospitals battling an autoimmune disease there were moments I never thought I could get back to this level and there were doctors who told me my fighting days were done. But I have won every fight since and I plan to prove that anything is possible if you want it bad enough.”
If nothing else, Lee will have the chance to upset Plant on July 20. If he does, it’d be a true stunner, but he’s taking the opportunity and giving it a go, which is all he can do.