LAS VEGAS – super middleweight world champion Caleb Plant and Mike Lee exchanged harsh words during the fight, with Plant finally promising to teach Lee the kind of lesson he had never learned on the way to a financial degree from Notre Dame.
Did he ever do it?
Plant dominated every moment of the fight and dropped Lee three times on the way to a knockout third-round victory in his first title defense on Saturday night with Manny Pacquiao-Keith Thurman, a world-class welterweight title battle at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
"It goes exactly as I planned, going away. Of course. I've told you all week that it won't run 12 rounds and I cling to my words and I try to do that," Plant said.
Then the Plant gave up all hostility.
"I gave Mike my hat because it needed a true champion to step between these straps," Plant said. "But this & still, as I predicted. I think I have a high boxing IQ and I do this at a very high level. So it's just about making adjustments. He's a big, strong guy and he just entered here to give all his possessions. "
Plant (19-0, 11 KO), 26, an Ashland City, Tennessee, native who lives in Las Vegas, was dominated from the start because of a clear incompatibility. Speed, skill and excellence of calm are clear from the start. He landed a high volume of the right punch and, with about 30 seconds left in the first round, Lee's floor with the left hook was dynamite to the jaw. Lee (21-1, 11 KO), 31, from Chicago, never looked calm in the ring, but he survived the first wave and took another big left hook before the round ended.
Plant continued to attack in the second round, and all Lee could do was cover up, lose wild shots and smile, even though his face was fixed.
Plant, who won his 168-pound world title with a unanimous decision against Jose Uzcategui on January 13, left Lee out of his misery in the third round, sending the challenger to a three-stroke combination. Another left hand appeared to bring Lee down again, but referee Robert Byrd decided it was slipping. Moments later, Plant landed another left hand, and when Lee dropped down again, Byrd waved a fight without counting at 1 minute, 29 seconds.
Lee moved from the light heavyweight class and was a title challenger who could not come to this fight, because he never faced a famous opponent. But he received an injection because of the profile he had collected as a graduate of Notre Dame who left a potential career on Wall Street. Lee also appeared in a series of television commercials at Subway sandwich shops that were aired nationally.
Lee returned to the ring after a 13-month layoff, partly due to a battle with autoimmune diseases. While he spoke good games ahead of the fight, like Plant, only Plant could support his words.
"Speed is the difference. He is fast and very accurate," Lee said. "I was successful with my right hand but could not be consistent with him. There were no problems with the termination. It was the job of the referee and I respected him."
CompuBox statistics show how unilateral the fight is. Plant landed 50 of 109 blows (46%), while Lee was connected with only 8 out of 66 (12%).
Plant hopes to finally unite the belt with the winner of the September 28 fight between title holder Anthony Dirrell and former title holder David Benavidez, a struggle that is easy to do because they are all with the Premier Boxing Champion.
"Oh, yes, we can certainly unite," Plant said. "I'm not hard to control. I'm not difficult to fight with. Come meet me. You know my advisor (Al Haymon)."
Ugas grows Figueroa eliminated
Competitor Jordan's welterweight Ugas won his second career world title on Saturday with a one-sided blow from former lightweight champion Omar Figueroa Jr. Ugas won a unanimous decision in their WBC title eliminator, with all three judges scoring 119-107 in his favor.
Ugas got the second shot on the 147-pound title held by Shawn Porter, who is scheduled for a unification fight against Errol Spence Jr. on September 28. Ugas's previous required shot against Porter on March 9 ended in defeat for Ugas in a disputed split decision.
Ugas landed several clean shots in the first half, including the right hand that sent Figueroa crashing into the rope, which helped keep him and pushed referee Russell Mora to rule it was a knockdown. A few moments later, the overhand right bent Figueroa again.
Ugas (24-4, 11 KOs), 32, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist from Cuba who fought in Miami, was warned for defending in the third round but then shook Figueroa with a series of punches in the final seconds of the round – and he continued to hit Figueroa throughout the rest of the fight.
Figueroa suffered a wound on his scalp because of the accidental buttocks of the head in the fourth round, prompting Mora to call the waiting time for the doctor at the edge of the ring to see him. Mora pulled one point ahead of Ugas to hold back in the fifth round.
When the sixth round ended, Ugas cornered Figueroa (28-1-1, 19 KO), 29, from Weslaco, Texas, and charged him with two heavy right hands that flicked his head back, as he did repeatedly during the fight.
The CompuBox statistics are extraordinary for Ugas, which landed 229 of 805 blows (28%), while Figueroa landed 131 of 610 (22%).
Lipinets drilled a substitute, Inson
Welter Sergey Lipinets thought he would face right-hand fighter John Molina Jr., but when Molina drove his back on Thursday night and withdrew from the fight, the Lipinets found themselves in line with southern winger Jayar Inson, who was originally scheduled for a non-national match. – Early television but received a fight with Lipinets on a one-day notice.
That change did not make a difference for Lipinets, the former junior welterweight world title holder. After the first-half feeling-out process, Lipinets drilled Inson with his left hand into his jaw in the second half, which caused Inson's head to hit the side – and then he hit the deck. Although Inson beat the count, he was in no condition to continue and referee Jay Nady stopped the fight 57 seconds into the second half.
"Joe Goossen is a great coach and he just told me to work from a different direction facing the southern chakra," Lipinets said through a translator. "I just made sure to block the blow with my elbow. That was the only adjustment I had to do and finally work well.
"When I first heard the news about Molina, I knew that I wanted to keep fighting this big show. As far as fighting Southpaw, I have a lot of amateur battles in my kickboxing career so I don't have any problems adjusting." I also argue with great left-handed legs like Victor Ortiz throughout my career, so I feel comfortable with the turn of the fighters. "
Lipinets (16-1, 12 KOs), 30, a native of Kazakhstan who fought in Los Angeles, won his third successive battle since losing his junior welterweight belt to the decision for Mikey Garcia in March 2018. Recently, Lipinets came from the 10th round knockout of former world champion Lamont Peterson on March 24 in the main candidates for this year's fight.
"You practice for one style and then you get another, but I will definitely take the results," Goossen said. "A great warrior always executes what you ask him to do and he is a great warrior. I hope he becomes a champion again one day, that's certain."
Inson (18-3, 12 KOs), 28, from the Philippines, lost their second successive battle, following the eighth round split decision for Jonathan Steele. The fight, on January 19, was also at the MGM Grand, under Pacquiao's victory over Adrien Broner.
Nery KO's Payano with a body shot
In the battle between former world-class bantam holder Luis Nery defeated Juan Carlos Payano with a body shot in the ninth round to keep himself in the fight for the title in the future.
Nery (30-0, 24 KO), 24, from Mexico, who scored his 11th consecutive knockout, was stripped of his bantamweight title for failing to make weight for the 2018 title defense and needed extra time to make weight for the team fighting with Payano – but Nery takes care of Payano well after a slow start.
"He was a very complicated fighter at first – he was a veteran – so I had to try to adapt to his style to see how I could get in," Nery said through a translator. "In the fifth or sixth round, I started to gain control of the fight and then the left hook came to the body which was very destructive. I saw a gap in the body and that's when the left hook came and it ended."
Nery walked forward, looking to land her strong right hand. He also went inside and let his hands often succeed in Payano's body. He seemed to shake Payano for the first time during an exchange at the end of the fourth round.
Payano (21-3, 9 KO), 35, from the Dominican Republic, landed several strong left hands during the fight, but Nery never looked like she was in trouble.
In the ninth round, Nery catches Payano with his hard left hand into the ribs and Payano falls in pain on the canvas, where referee Vic Drakulich counts it at 1 minute, 43 seconds. Payano still doubled in pain a few minutes later.
"During the exchange, Nery's second shot came in," Payano said through an interpreter. "We fixed this problem, but then the body shot came out of nowhere and hit my ribs that I destroyed years ago against Warren Rauhee. We will see what the doctors said about the ribs, but as soon as I am healthy, we will continue to work. I was caught with a good shot, but I was really in a fight before KO. "
Nery landed 111 out of 402 blows (28%), while Payano was connected with 103 of 530 (19%), according to CompuBox.
This is Payano's second knockout defeat in his last three battles; The first knockout occurred when Payano was drilled in the first round by world champion Naoya Inoue during the quarter-final World Boxing Super Series fight in October.
Ajagba outperformed Demirezen
Heavyweight Efe Ajagba (11-0, 9 KOs) was pushed past the fifth round for the first time in his career but won a decisive victory over Ali Eren Demirezen (11-1, 10 KOs), in a meeting with the 2016 Olympics.
Ajagba, 25, who represents Nigeria and is now based in Houston, wins a 10-round 99-91, 99-91, and 97-93 fight – a battle that looks a little more competitive than the judge's score card shows.
Ajagba is steady with his prick, while Demirezen, 29, is a Turkish Turkish athlete who fought in the United States for the first time and passed eight rounds for the first time in his career, throwing punches quickly and drawing Ajagba's attention several times during fights.
"This is the first fighter to take my distance. He is strong and can take my beating," Ajagba said. "My coach (Ronnie Shields) only told me to keep using my jab and stay in the middle of the ring. I injured my elbow from the start, so I couldn't shoot my right hand the way I wanted. But I wouldn't use it as an excuse As a tall man, I have to use a jab, and if it's far away, that's my best way to win. "
Ajagba 6-foot-6, 242-pound tries to use a longer range and puncture to keep Demirezen 6-3, 247.5-pounds outside, while Demirezen tries to force his way in. It makes a fight that has steady action, although Ajagba is the busiest fighter, landing more punches and getting better than action in most rounds. No man seems close to going down or in serious trouble.
"I don't agree with the score – 99-91 is incorrect. That's much closer," Demirezen said. "I feel minimal, it's a series. I know I have to beat him and that KO may be easier than winning with points. I think it's a good performance, but I can do better. I want to fight in the US again."
According to CompuBox, Ajagba landed 191 of 877 blows (22%) and Demirezen landed 149 of 564 (26%).
The other bottom card results
Welterweight Abel Ramos (25-3-2, 19 KO), 28, from Casa Grande, Arizona, battered Jimmy Williams (16-3-1, 5 KOs), 32, from New Haven, Connecticut, to referee Kenny Bayless waved it off at 2 minutes, 43 seconds from the fourth round.
Flying class Genisis Libranza (19-1, 11 KO), 25, from the Philippines, dominated Carlos Maldonado (11-4, 7 KOs), 28, from East Los Angeles, on the way to the fourth round knockout in 2 minutes, 58 seconds.
Fur class John Leo Dato (12-0-1, 8 KO), 26, from the Philippines, dropped Juan Antonio Lopez (14-7, 6 KO), 25, left-handed foot from Dallas, in the first round and stopped at 2 minutes, 5 seconds from the fifth round.