Michael Plania highlights magical upset victory over top-ranked Joshua Greer Jr with two knockdowns inside The Bubble at MGM Grand on ESPN
Giovani Santillan ekes by veteran Antonio DeMarco in a well-contested 10-rounder that ended in a majority decision
LAS VEGAS (June 16, 2020) — Top-ranked Chicago bantamweight Joshua “Don’t Blink” Greer Jr spent the lead-up to his showdown with Filipino “Magic” Michael Plania as a heavy favorite. By midday of fight night, the narrative became Plania being discussed as a likely spoiler. With a win Greer (22-2-1, 12 KOs) could conceivably move on to lucrative world title fights versus unified champion Naoya Inoue or WBO champion John Riel Casimero.
Greer’s future was in jeopardy early.
Plania (24-1, 12 KOs) patiently dodged Greer’s busy jab over the opening minute to time a looping lead left hook that caught Greer on the chin to score a surprising knockdown. Greer got up seemingly steady on his legs, but spent the rest of the round regrouping.
Into the second round, Plania remained patient as Greer’s jab returned – but with less confidence behind it. Greer attacked cautiously. Plania fired random throwaway shots from distance, looking for the same opening with his left hook. Greer started to initiate his attack from outside, and move in and out to find some kind of rhythm.
Plania set up with his back foot anchored in ring’s interior, tracking Greer as he circled left and right. He appeared to be the more comfortable fighter tactically speaking.
In round five Greer looked ready to work his way back to mid-range for more effective shots. Plania’s conservative output and counter punching left Greer unsure of how to sustain an attack. Plania fought relaxed and started to taunt Greer before he struck again. He landed another game-changing left hook that dropped Greer at the close of the sixth round.
Greer came out in the seventh with a high guard attempting to give Plania a different look. He also looked intent to shoot straight shots, leaving tighter windows for Plania, in an effort to make up for one of the knockdowns. Plania responded with left hooks to Greer’s body and more taunts. The action remained on the Top Rank logo for most of the round.
In the eighth, Greer stood behind his high guard looking to land short big shots again. Plania was still there the entire frame, taking a solid left hook from Greer at the bell.
Plania moved outside to open the ninth, and Greer unloaded early with hooks and uppercuts. Plania circled outside to his left, maintaining a safe distance to keep eye on all of Greer’s work. He countered Greer’s pressure with winging shots on the way to him. Greer’s energy was heightened, but the desired results still eluded him.
Plania fought the final round in a prevent defense. Hands down, moving away to his left and right, Plania either wrapped Greer up or caught him with single shots off of his changes of direction. Greer maintained his pursuit for the final frame, but the situation only became increasingly dire for the Chicago native.
Both men raised their arms in victory after the final bell, but Plania’s emotions drove him to the canvas exhibiting his belief that he had secured the upset. Plania’s celebration continued after scorecards of 94-94, 96-92, and 97-91 confirmed his victory by majority decision.
The two men leave this brief intersection of their careers – the battle of their lives without any crowd – with Plania aiming for a world title shot and Greer looking to put together the pieces of broken 19-fight win streak. Credit is due to both men for accepting such a challenge under these COVID-19 created circumstances.
For the co-main event Welterweights Giovani Santillan and veteran Antonio DeMarco opened the third installment of Top Rank’s Summer Series which aired live on ESPN and ESPN Desportes. The evening’s line-up changed, but the action again took place at “The Bubble” inside MGM Grand.
Santillan (26-0, 15) entered the fight needing to show his wares for future business. DeMarco (33-9-1, 24 KOs) came into the fight six years senior to Santillan at 34-years old, and posed a threat due to his quality of opposition in conjunction with more than double the amount of rounds fought. Santillan, a southpaw out of San Diego, only fought once in 2018 and 2019 – picking up the NABO Welterweight title with a second round stoppage of Alejandro Barboza in April 2018.
DeMarco, also a southpaw, fought once in 2018 and 2019. but dropped a decision to Jamal James last July. Santillan scored well through the first half of the fight, but he never managed to seize control or make the older DeMarco uncomfortable.
Moments after a pair of landed DeMarco uppercuts in the center of the ring in round five Santillan backed out with his nose showing the damage.
Santillan started coming apart in the eighth round as a result of DeMarco’s steady attack. Body work remained a constant part of the attack from DeMarco.
Santillan fought hard, his effort never wavered, and it was obvious that he struggled to beat the fight out of the older fighter. Seeing the fight through played in the San Diego native’s favor, and with his effort he earned a majority decision via cards of 95-95 and 96-94 in the eyes’ of two judges.
Nikoloz Sekhniashvili vs Isiah Jones
Detroit, Michigan’s Isiah Jones withstood a thunderstorm’s worth of powerful shots from big-swinging Middleweight Nikoloz Sekhniashvili in the six round bout’s first two frames. Matters didn’t improve much in the third round as Jones (8-2, 3 KOs) found the going rough both inside and outside.
Sekhniashvili eased up over the second half of the fourth round, opting to mix in some feinting and jabs. The power punching returned early in the fifth round, as he caught Jones cleanly multiple times. Jones continued to move and stay upright.
The Gori, Georgia native, who now fights out of Sherman Oaks, California, maintained his onslaught in the sixth round. But, the taller Jones maximized his moment on ESPN and made it the distance intact. Jones’ mettle was rewarded with a round on one of the judge’s cards for a 55-59 total – the other two judges agreed with cards of 60-54. The unanimous decision was Sekhniashvili’s second time going the distance and improved his record to 6-0.
Hector Perez vs Juan Torres
Heavyweights Hector Perez and Juan Torres opened with a bit of a gridlocked first round, but Perez went on a good rally to close the second round. Perez (7-2, 3 KOs) operated well in space while Torres (5-2-1, 2 KOs) struggled to both establish his offense and find his range. Perez flashed a solid jab over the six rounds, but never pulled completely away from his southpaw opponent. When there were firefights Perez exited them getting the better of the exchanges, helping to earn the unanimous decision with scores of 60-54, 59-55 and 59-55.
Cameron Krael vs Bobirzhan Mominov
The lead-in to the telecast’s main event featured Cameron Krael versus Bobirzhan Mominov scheduled for eight rounds of Super Welterweight action. Krael (17-15-3, 4 KOs) traveled the fewest miles to get to The Bubble. The Las Vegas native’s guest, undefeated Mominov, was aggressive and heavy-handed from the bell. Krael never retreated or hid from Mominov (10-0, 8 KOs).
Mominov caught Krael with a shot that wobbled the hometown fighter going into the final minute of the third round. Krael’s offense was crafty, and he touched Mominov often, but 28-year old Kazakh was able to handle his power. Krael displayed the chin of a fighter with 15 losses but only one coming via knockout. Mominov opened the sixth round connecting with thudding shots from both hands, but backed out from a combination with a cut in the corner of his left eye. Moments later referee Robert Hoyle deducted a point from Mominov for a punch to the back of Krael’s head.
Scorecards of 57-56 and 58-55 twice delivered Mominov his 11th win, but Krael acquitted himself with a very game effort.
All photos by Mikey Williams/Top Rank