Last night Top Rank kicked off their second week of boxing in ‘The Bubble’, the playful name given to the MGM Grand by Bob Arum now that no fans are in attendance.
In the night’s main event, #1 WBO Bantamweight contender Joshua Greer Jr. was upset by underdog Mike Plania with a majority decision loss. The final scorecards were 97-91, 96-92, 94-94, but they don’t tell the full tale of the performances Plania and Greer Jr. gave.
Plania lands hard leather early.
Plania, who dropped down from super-bantam for this fight, came out looking to dominate the ring from the start, immediately claiming the center and backing Greer Jr. up with a stiff jab. Plania was cautious but seemed to be looking to land heavy shots, throwing his lead hook with intent three times in the first 30 seconds. Greer Jr. was working the jab and circling, trying to take back the center of the ring, as Plania looked unfazed.
Then just 1 minute and 10 seconds into round 1, Plania threw a lightning-fast lead hook and caught Greer Jr. flush, scoring a flash knockdown. Despite its speed, I’m surprised Greer Jr. didn’t see it coming. Plania had thrown only 7-8 punches to that point, 4 of them being his lead left which he threw alone. He also looked like he wanted to land it, as he had his left hand down and cocked for a while.
In his defense Greer Jr. was quick to get up, looking like he hit the canvas more because of the surprise than the by being rocked. He remained light on his feet and didn’t look to have been physically affected by it for the remainder of the round.
Plania showed a great deal of maturity and patience, keeping a relaxed pace and sticking to his game plan. He didn’t look to capitalize on the knockdown prematurely, still working out Greer’s movements and staying defensively sound. Greer Jr. did, however, look extremely wary for the next five rounds.
Plania lands the hard left again.
After four more rounds of decent back and forth, Plania controlling the center of the ring the whole time, Greer Jr. started to up the pace in round 6. Greer Jr. was beginning to throw heavier combos, working Plania’s range out well and landing a few to the body. Plania always had an answer for him though, after guarding each combo he threw his own and kept Greer Jr. backing up constantly.
Greer Jr. while busy, couldn’t land clean and kept getting stung by Plania’s heavier shots. Plania remained selective, choosing to throw the single heavy punches except when answering Greer Jr.’s combos. Plania’s body language was showing that he felt comfortable, he had low hands and walked forward slowly, while Greer Jr. kept his guard high circled Plania to the left and right.
In the closing seconds of round 6, with Greer Jr. walking him down but not throwing, Plania struck again. He shifted his body weight to the left and telegraphed a lead uppercut to the body, causing Greer Jr. to drop his right hand to a low guard. It was a perfectly sold feint, which allowed Plania to land an awkwardly angled lead hook, with planted feet, to Greer Jr.’s jaw, sending him to the canvas once again. Greer Jr. was again quick to his feet, looking unhurt but shocked by the second knockdown of the night.
For the last four rounds of the fight, Greer Jr. came on much more strongly, apparently having lost his apprehension and looking to make back the first six rounds he’d lost. Greer Jr. made Plania really fight for the center of the ring for the first time, landing some heavy uppercuts to the body which backed up the Filipino. In response Plania also started working the body more, catching Greer Jr. coming forward and visibly hurting him a few times.
Too little too late.
It was a case of a good fight fought too late for Greer Jr, who looked much more competitive in the last four rounds. Had the Chicago native fought from the opening bell as he did in the last four rounds, we would have seen a much more competitive fight. As it was, Plania looked stronger and more relaxed, showing himself to be every bit the #1 contender that Joshua Greer Jr. is.
Joshua Greer Jr. moves to 22-2-1, while Plania improves to 24-1. According to the Boxrec Bantamweight rankings, Greer Jr. dropped 7 places to 18th worldwide. Meanwhile, Mike Plania moved up 29 places in the Super-Bantamweight rankings with his impressive win, to 22nd worldwide.
Plania who fights out of General Santos City, Manny Pacquiao’s hometown, will be looking to carry on his momentum into what will surely be a title shot within his next few fights. He has a tough time ahead of him in the hugely talented Super-Bantamweight division topped by the ever-dangerous Emanuel Navarrete.
Joshua Greer Jr. was gracious in defeat, accepting the loss with no excuses and stating, “I gotta take my losses like I take my wins, you know. I gotta go back to the drawing board, figure some things out, and get back with my team and work even harder, and I’m going to make a push again.”