It’s very easy to see why Top Rank like 26-year-old bantamweight Joshua Greer Jr as much as they do.
The Chicago native has fast hands, has flashed some power at times, and his “Night Night” pillow gimmick gives him something fans will remember when they see him.
And though he’s got blemishes on his record, they aren’t much to be concerned about. He had a six-round draw in his fourth pro bout back in 2015, and he lost a four-round majority decision to Stephen Fulton in his next outing. But Fulton has become a contender; a loss to the Philly fighter isn’t damning at all. At any rate, we’re talking about fights over four years ago, too, very early in Greer’s career.
More worrying than those two results are his recent results, and those have been victories as far as the record books are concerned.
Last July, Greer had plenty of trouble in a 12-round majority decision win over Nikolai Potapov. And three months later, he edged out a 10-round decision win over Antonio Nieves.
Potapov and Nieves aren’t bad fighters, but Greer was expected to do better than he did in both cases. He had consistency issues in both fights. He came alive late against Potapov and barely got the W. He started fast and faded a bit in the middle against Nieves. His defense is hardly impregnable.
On Tuesday, he’ll headline another Top Rank show from MGM’s “Bubble,” live on ESPN, facing Filipino fighter Mike Plania in a 10-round bout with a catchweight of 120 pounds.
The 23-year-old Plania (23-1, 12 KO) has been based in Miami recently and has a big breakthrough opportunity here. Mis only really notable fight against in Mar. 2018, when he took on former titleholder Juan Carlos Payano in Florida. Payano won a clear and deserved decision, but he was down in the third round and Plania, though a raw 21-year-old fighter at the time, didn’t get totally overwhelmed there. Plania’s team admit that he just didn’t have the seasoning to beat Payano back then.
He’s had eight fights and a lot of gym work since then to get better, to mature into a better fighter. They’ve all been on a pretty low level, mind you, and Greer’s speed especially may simply be too much on Tuesday. But far more than Stevenson-Caraballo or Magdaleno-Vicente this week, there’s some intrigue on paper with this one, and it could really come down to who’s stayed in better shape during lockdown, and who comes in better prepared. Raw talent may not simply be enough here.
In the co-feature, which is another 10-round bout, 28-year-old welterweight Giovanni Santillan (25-0, 15 KO) will look to break through against faded but not washed former lightweight titlist Antonio DeMarco (33-8-1, 24 KO).
Santillan’s age and lack of notable fights are red flags here, at least in terms of him being a “prospect.” The San Diego native has fought the vast majority of his bouts at the DoubleTree in Ontario, California, where Thompson Boxing run regular events; 18 of his 25 fights have been held at the hotel venue.
The 34-year-old DeMarco, born in Mexico and based in California, has been in with some big names in his career. He lost to Edwin Valero back in 2010, in what wound up being the last fight of the troubled Valero’s career before his death just two months later. DeMarco would win the WBC lightweight title in Oct. 2011, though, upsetting Jorge Linares in a wild comeback, via 11th round stoppage.
DeMarco lost to Adrien Broner in 2012, then went through three straight defeats to Jessie Vargas, Rances Barthelemy, and Omar Figueroa Jr in 2014-15, but he was competitive with Figueroa and bounced back to knock out celebrated prospect Eddie Ramirez in Oct. 2017. He’s lost two straight right now, but he still gives a real effort.
Bottom line is that if Santillan just isn’t good enough, DeMarco still has the engine and ability to let us know. It’s The Test for Santillan — we’ll see what he can do, and have a real sense of who he is as a fighter after this one, good or bad.