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‘Magic’ Mike Plania exposes Joshua Greer Jr’s world bantamweight title hopes

Mike Plania Joshua Greer
Mikey Williams/Top Rank
Joshua Greer Jr is caught napping and pays the price while Antonio DeMarco unlucky not to get the victory in Top Rank's latest Las Vegas show

JOSHUA GREER JR likes to carry a pillow into the ring with him that reads, ‘Night Night’. When he has knocked out his opponent he then swings said pillow above his head. The gimmick backfired when his opponent, Mike Plania, cracked Greer with a looping left hook and nearly sent him to sleep in the opening round.

Acts of arrogance tend to be punished in the long run – it takes a very special talent to evade the karma police, after all – and such was the case atop this Top Rank promotion deep inside Las Vegas’ MGM Grand.

Greer Jnr was ranked in the bantamweight top 10 by three of the four sanctioning bodies (and Boxing News) heading into this bout with Filipino Mike Plania but on this evidence it looked like we all got it wrong. But this evidence – behind closed doors in an alien environment – may not turn out to be indelible. Where Greer, still only 25, does deserve immense credit is for actually taking this fight out of a desire to stay active when he had a world title shot all but guaranteed.

Plania – from Manny Pacquiao’s hometown of Santos City – came out slowly and patiently with a plan in mind. He’d done his homework, it seemed. Five times he poked out his left in the opening minute to monitor Greer’s reaction to it. On the sixth occasion the 23-year-old looped it into a powerful hook that landed with a thump on his opponent’s chin. The favourite went down hard before he jumped up unsteadily, clearly embarrassed.

Over the next few rounds Greer struggled to get back into the fight. He fired single shots and showed little of the sharp-shooting repertoire that he’s exhibited in the past. And in round six he showed that he had failed to learn anything from what had happened just minutes before. Plania – who likes his “Magic Mike” nickname so much he’s had it tattooed to his back – again toyed and practised with his left before smashing it full blast into Greer. It was a perfect replica of his bomb in the opening round and it had exactly the same effect. Greer, who hoped to be fighting for a world belt in his next outing, fell backside-first to the mat, his dreams disappearing.  

The dreadlocked Chicago man again found his feet. This time, with Plania starting to fade, Greer worked his way back into the Tony Weeks-officiated bout with admirable tenacity. By the 10th round, the underdog was fighting on instinct and clearly exhausted but he rode out the storm and into the sunset as the deserved winner. The scores of 97-91 (Paricia Morse Jarman) and 96-92 (Tim Cheatam) in his favour were in keeping with the narrative but the 94-94 handed in by Dave Moretti was hard to fathom.

READ – THE BANTAMWEIGHT DIVISIONAL IN-DEPTH ANALYSIS: Strengths, weaknesses, best and worst performances

The judging was again called into question in the chief-support bout in the MGM Grand’s coronavirus-busting ‘Bubble’ after pre-fight favourite Giovani Santillan of San Diego looked like a post-fight loser only to get the majority nod over veteran Antonio DeMarco.

After the decision had been announced – 94-94 (Moretti) and two scores of 96-94 (Cheatham and Steve Weisfeld) – and the ring was being scrubbed before the main event, ESPN commentator Joe Tessitore observed that the judges’ cards should be “sanitised” as well.

DeMarco bossed the action, particularly in the middle rounds, to land more punches, draw more blood and expose plenty of faults in his southpaw opponent.

The unbeaten Santillan, 28 years old and having his first outing as a Top Rank fighter, did have some success in the second round and again in the last, when DeMarco was sent to the ropes from a left hand. Other rounds were close but, even so, the 34-year-old Mexican looked to have done enough. Weeks was the referee.

Andre Ward, alongside Tessitore on the mic, scored the bout 96-94 for DeMarco which looked fair to Boxing News.

Florida-based Kazakh, Bobirzhan Mominov, won a scrappy six-rounder against Las Vegas resident Cameron Krael. Monimov bossed most of the infighting between the clinches and the right man won. Mominov, now 11-0, took the Robert Hoyle-officiated contest unanimously via scores of 58-55 (twice) and 57-56.

The Verdict: Entertaining enough but not a night to remember for anyone bar Magic Mike

FULL RESULTS
Mike Plania (119 1/2lbs), 24-1 (12), w pts 10 Joshua Greer Jnr (120lbs), 22-2-1 (12); Giovani Santillan (148lbs), 26-0 (15), w pts 10 Antonio DeMarco (147lbs), 33-9-1 (24); Bobirzhan Mominov (152lbs), 11-0 (8), w pts 6 Cameron Krael. (147 3/4lbs), 16-17-3 (4); Hector Perez (221lbs), 7-2 (3), w pts 6 Juan Torres (250lbs), 5-3-1 (2); Nikolov Sekhniashvili (159 1/4lbs), 6-0 (4), w pts 6 Isiah Jones (158 1/4lbs), 8-2 (3).

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