Top Rank’s second week of bringing live boxing back in the United States amid the coronavirus pandemic saw a packed card at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Tuesday night.
There were five televised fights, and all of them went to the judges’ scorecards. The night started with a somewhat controversial decision, and ended with a top contender at bantamweight losing in an upset.
Here’s how it all played out.
Mike Plania def. Joshua Greer Jr. via majority decision
Scorecards: 97-91, 96-92, 94-94
The main event was a 10-round duel between Joshua Greer Jr., the No. 1 contender for the WBO world bantamweight title, and Mike Plania, a dangerous up-and-comer from the Philippines.
Plania was quick to make his mark in this bout, fought at catchweight of 120 pounds. He sent Greer crashing to the canvas with a looping left hook just halfway through the first round. To his credit, Greer bounced up quickly from the knockdown. Here’s a look, via Top Rank Boxing:
Greer spent the next few rounds circling around the ring, keeping his distance while looking for opportunities to throw the jab. Plania remained cool after the early knockdown and didn’t put himself in any dangerous spots chasing a knockout. It was a typical cat-and-mouse game, with Greer wary of getting stunned and Plania focusing on connecting with his lead left hook.
The patience paid off for the hard-hitting Filipino. Plania dropped the anvil on Greer again at the end of the sixth round, the left hook flying in from an awkward angle and catching Greer off guard. Here’s a look, via ESPN Ringside:
Greer was more willing to stay in the pocket and trade in the later rounds, knowing he needed to do something spectacular to win the fight. While the Chicago native made some good adjustments—his uppercuts at close range were particularly effective, and he forced Plania to fight off the back foot more often—it wasn’t enough to make up for the two knockdowns. Some nice body work from Plania was enough to blunt Greer’s momentum on several occasions and secure the win.
Greer is now 22-2-1 in his career, and will have to work his way back into title contention. Plania, meanwhile, improved to 24-1 overall, and has likely earned himself a title shot within his next couple of fights.
Bobirzhan Mominov def. Cameron Krael via unanimous decision
Scorecards: 58-55, 58-55, 57-56
Bobirzhan Mominov flashed plenty of leather in a six-round welterweight clash with Cameron Krael. The 28-year-old from Kazakhstan hit Krael early and often. His combinations were quick, accurate and decisive. Krael had difficulty handling the constant pressure from Mominov. All too often, Krael was caught standing still behind a high guard, and Mominov didn’t waste those opportunities, wailing away with hooks and changing levels with ease.
At the very least, Krael showed he has a strong chin and some solid counterpunching ability. Late in the bout, he appeared to open up a cut near Mominov’s left eye. Mominov was deducted a point in the sixth round for a punch to the back of the head, but he had already built up an insurmountable advantage and won all three judges’ scorecards, improving to 11-0 in his career.
Hector Perez def. Juan Torres via unanimous decisionScorecards: 60-54, 59-55, 59-55
Hector Perez showed enough skill to earn a decision victory in a six-round heavyweight fight against Juan Torres that lacked pace and action.
Torres, a southpaw from Texas, put his ample figure to work in this bout. He spent a lot of time trying to trap Perez on the ropes and just lean on him, throwing in shots to the body while Perez fought to get separation. The strategy worked better in the later rounds when both fighters began to tire.
Perez, born in Puerto Rico but fighting out of Florida, had the speed and footwork advantage. His best moments came when he had the time and space to get off a solid jab. While he allowed Torres to push him to the ropes a bit too often, he never looked all that uncomfortable.
Perez hit Torres with an accidental low blow in the fifth round, giving both men a breather. Perez was the more active of the two in a slow fight, and the judges rewarded him for it. Perez improved to 7-2 overall, Torres fell to 5-3-1.
Nikoloz Sekhniashvili def. Isiah Jones via unanimous decision
Scorecards: 60-54, 60-54, 59-55
Fans watching at home got a glimpse of Nikolov Sekhniashvili’s straightforward style and power in a six-round middleweight bout against Isiah Jones. Sekhniashvili swung early and often, gunning for a knockout from the opening bell. Jones, to his credit, never wavered or wobbled, but he didn’t do anything to deter the Georgian from attacking.
Sekhniashvili moved straight ahead throughout the fight, planting himself directly in front of Jones and teeing off. He didn’t seem to be thinking much at all about defense, and Jones didn’t give him much of a reason ponder it. Jones landed only 35 punches to Sekhniashvili’s 97, per the ESPN broadcast.
Sekhniashvili won all but one round on the three judges’ scorecards, improving his record to 6-0. Jones dropped to 8-2 with the loss.
Giovani Santillan def. Antonio DeMarco via majority decision
Scorecards: 96-94, 96-94 95-95
Tuesday’s televised card started with a welterweight clash between two southpaws that ended in a questionable decision. Giovani Santillan, 28, came into the bout looking to test himself against a veteran fighter in 34-year-old Antonio DeMarco.
Santillan started off brightly, mixing up punches and throwing quick combinations. His power left much to be desired, and DeMarco was able to take control of the fight in the middle rounds. There were a couple of instances where DeMarco expertly maneuvered around Santillan to escape the ropes, finishing off the move with a barrage of power punches.
DeMarco, a former world champion at lightweight, also made excellent use of a right hook to the body. He landed that particular punch with regularity, using it to back off Santillan or set up power shots to the head. Santillan pushed the pace a bit in the final frames of the 10-round bout, and some of the punches that he loaded up on started to break through DeMarco’s defenses.
Though Santillan struggled mightily in the middle rounds, his final push appeared to be enough to swing the judges and allow him to preserve his undefeated record. ESPN commentators Andre Ward and Tim Bradley Jr. both felt DeMarco deserved a victory:
DeMarco landed more punches overall, but Santillan landed more power punches, per the ESPN broadcast.