Pretty much every trainer and insider in boxing expected to see some upsets when the sport resumed after its forced hiatus, and we got one tonight in Las Vegas.
Mike Plania dropped Joshua Greer Jr twice and won a 10-round majority decision in the ESPN main event this evening, taking scores of 94-94 (which is ridiculous), 96-92, and 97-91. BLH scored the fight 95-93 and 96-92 for Plania.
Plania (24-1, 12 KO) shook up Greer very quickly, dropping the Chicagoan halfway into the opening round on a lightning fast lead left hook. Greer (22-2-1, 12 KO) appeared a bit shy of the action for several rounds after that, and got caught with pretty much the same punch and dropped again in the sixth round.
To Greer’s credit, he did put on some pressure in the final three rounds, but it was just too late by then, and Plania was comfortable enough to mostly stay away and avoid getting caught with anything too big.
We're in for a firefight ...— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) June 17, 2020
Mike Plania gets off to a fast start, catching & dropping Joshua Greer Jr. in the first round with a lead left hook.#GreerPlania | LIVE NOW on ESPN pic.twitter.com/aYTv9L14Dl
This is a brutal setback for Greer. Sanctioning body rankings are what they are (horseshit, mostly), but Greer had gotten into the No. 1 contender slot with the WBO, and Top Rank clearly had plans for him. But those plans have looked shaky for three straight fights now. He barely escaped against both Nikolai Potapov and Antonio Nieves in his last two outings in 2019, and tonight, Plania did too much, and Greer didn’t find answers quickly enough.
The 23-year-old Plania didn’t look like some world-beater, mind you; bantamweight is a very strong division with a lot of good fighters, and while Plania could maybe argue a top 10 slot on this, depending how you rated Greer beforehand, he’d still be a clear underdog. There were rounds I personally thought Plania might have left too many excuses for a judge to shade it to Greer, and that worked well enough with judge Dave Moretti, who bizarrely found six rounds to give to Greer, but Tim Cheatham and Patricia Morse Jarman rightly overruled him.
That said, Plania is also still young, clearly has some real talent — that lead left hook of his really is fast and could be a serious weapon, even if it doesn’t work quite as well as it did tonight against Greer — and might be a fighter really on the rise.
Greer, at 26, really is going to have to find something more, or we’ve probably seen right about the ceiling of where he’s going in pro boxing. He could still get a title shot, mind you, because lots of fighters get title shots they probably shouldn’t, but he’d be one of those big underdogs nobody expects to win, unless something changes for him in a hurry. He’s a talented but flawed fighter and the flaws just keep showing up.
Giovani Santillan MD-10 Antonio DeMarco
A very close, debatable fight, really could have gone either way. For instance, I had this 96-94 DeMarco, Wil had it 97-93 Santillan, and Andre Ward on ESPN had it 96-94 DeMarco. Official scores were 95-95, and two cards of 96-94 for Santillan. Tim Bradley disagreed but this was far from a robbery.
The 28-year-old Santillan (26-0, 15 KO) gets to keep his undefeated record, but there look to be some serious limitations here, which with due respect it’s what you’d expect of a guy his age just now signing with a power promoter. It’s not like Santillan had some deep amateur run that delayed him turning pro or anything, he’s been in the game for eight years.
Santillan started well, dictating the first couple rounds, but DeMarco (33-9-1, 24 KO) found some rhythm in the middle frames. Santillan finished a little better; I gave him two of the last three rounds to tighten it up, and Ward gave him the last three to make it close on his card.
“It’s about me learning a lot about myself, what I’ve got to work on,” Santillan told Bernardo Osuna after the fight. “I haven’t been pushed at this point before this fight. I hadn’t fought somebody at this level. I knew that for this, this is something he’s been through before and a first time for me, so there’s something to gain from this.”
It’s tough to see Santillan becoming a real player at 147, in all honesty. This was a solid action fight, no lulls, went by at a nice clip, never got boring. But is he looking like someone who will compete with the top dogs at welter? Nah. He scraped his way past a 34-year-old ex-lightweight titleholder. But not everyone can be elite and if he puts on some decent fights, then welcome to the bigger stage all the same, and if he keeps winning he’ll get his chance to prove doubters wrong. That said, I wouldn’t be confident picking him over someone like Chris van Heerden or Luis Collazo right now.
But Santillan, as he should, is staying confident.
“I just need to keep working hard. Study this fight, study all my past fights. Any holes I see in my game, I’ve got to work on. I think we’re on our way.”
According to CompuBox, Santillan landed 150 of 476 (32%) of his total punches, and 117 of 341 (34%) of his power shots. DeMarco landed 159 of 537 (30%) of his total shots, and 129 of 307 (42%) of his power punches, so statistically, the fight was close, as it seemed round by round.
Bobirzhan Mominov UD-6 Cameron Krael
Krael (17-16-3, 4 KO) is a classic gatekeeper/prospect checker. He usually keeps fights competitive with prospects, and usually loses. That’s about what he did here. Scores were 57-56, 58-55, and 58-55 for the 28-year-old Mominov (11-0, 8 KO), who is from Kazakhstan so gets compared to GGG every two to four minutes on TV, but really doesn’t fight much like Golovkin at all.
Mominov lost a point in the sixth round for a rabbit punch, which made it a little closer than the scores would have been otherwise, but Krael did his usual job, surviving, spoiling a bit, making the other guy work, forcing the prospect to dig a bit deeper than most opponents will early on. Krael’s a very valuable guy to have on the scene.
As for “Bobby” Mominov, not sure on the upside but I wouldn’t call him a blue chipper. We’ll learn more going forward.
Nika Sekhniashvili UD-6 Isiah Jones
Sekhniashvili goes to 6-0 (4 KO), but has to go the distance here. The 26-year-old from Georgia (country not state) won on scores of 59-55, 60-54, 60-54 against Jones (8-2, 3 KO), a 25-year-old from Detroit who showed a solid chin and some spoiler abilities, but never much wanted to engage with Sekhniashvili after feeling some of that power early.
The power seems very natural for Nika, and the craft will either come along with it or not. Jones didn’t make this super easy for him, and Sekhniashvili wasn’t able to fully get around the muting sort of tactics from the American. But it’s a good learning fight, all in all, and it’s not that he ever struggled or anything. Again, looks like a legit middleweight prospect. He drew comparisons, style-wise, to former cruiserweight titleholder Murat Gassiev in our live thread.
Hector Perez UD-6 Juan Torres
With legitimate respect to both guys for getting in there and taking the risks and throwing their hands, this was not a good fight. This wasn’t just a fight that usually wouldn’t air on TV, this was a fight that usually wouldn’t even air on the ESPN+ prelims. Perez (7-2, 3 KO) is a 29-year-old Puerto Rican cruiserweight fighting here at heavyweight, while Torres (5-3-1, 2 KO) is a 33-year-old big lad. Neither of them are a prospect. Scores were 59-55, 60-54, 60-54 for Perez.