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Pinoy pug in Vegas return


PhilBoxing.com



Plania (C).

Boxing is back in Las Vegas this month after the Nevada State Athletic Commission shut down the staging of combat sports last March 14 due to the pandemic and superbantamweight Mike (Magic) Plania of General Santos City is set to become the first Filipino fighter in the ring anywhere in the world since the lockdown.

Plania, 23, takes on WBO No. 1, IBF No. 2 and WBC No. 9 bantamweight Joshua Greer, Jr. in a Top Rank 10-round bout at the MGM Grand Conference Center on June 16. Plania’s manager J. C. Manangquil said the fight stipulates a catchweight of 120 pounds, two over the bantamweight limit.

It’s a step-up for Plania in terms of quality of opposition as Greer is virtually a win away from clinching a world title shot as the WBO’s mandatory challenger. Greer, 25, totes a 22-1-1 record, with 12 KOs and boasts a win streak of 19 wins since losing a majority four-round decision to Stephen Fulton in 2015. He’s nicknamed “Don’t Blink” because he can knock out an opponent in the blink of an eye. Greer’s gimmick is he pulls out a pillow inscribed with the words “Night Night” in the ring after every stoppage. Greer, however, isn’t invulnerable. He’s been floored thrice by Jose Luis Gallegos, Xavier Montelongo and Filipino Giovanni Escaner but got up to win each time. Although his chin is suspect, Greer is a huge favorite over Plania.

GAB chairman Baham Mitra said Plania faces the same odds as in his previous fight when he upset Nicaragua’s previously undefeated Giovanni Gutierrez on points to capture the vacant IBF North American superbantamweight crown in Miami last December. “Tough fight but we wish Mike well,” said Mitra. Manangquil said he likes Plania’s chances. “Mike is probably the most talented fighter I have,” noted Manangquil whose SanMan stable lists more than 34 boxers. “Greer is an elite and good fighter but he’s beatable. This is Mike’s chance. Let’s see if he can go to another level. But I’m confident.”

Manangquil said Plania has another fight on the table against Hungary’s Szilveszter Ajtai in Miami on July 17 but he’s got to hurdle Greer first. MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons predicted Plania to win by knockout. “Magic Mike has a good chance as a live underdog,” he said. Plania has won his last eight bouts, four in the US and his record is 23-1, with 12 KOs. Of his 12 KO wins, seven came inside two rounds. His only loss was a decision to former WBA bantamweight titlist Juan Carlos Payano in Hollywood in 2018 but he floored the Dominican Republic veteran in the third round.

Plania is called Magic because his now-you-see-me-now-you-don’t style makes him an elusive target. One of three children, he started boxing at nine and logged over 300 amateur fights, winning three Philippine National Games gold medals in the process. Plania was once in the ABAP national pool. He’s one of five SanMan fighters training in Miami since January. Cuban trainer Moro Fernandez will be in Plania’s corner for the Greer contest.

Greer was only six months old when his father was shot to death with six slugs to the head in a gangland-type execution. Prison was like his second home until his grandmother Gwendolyn introduced him to boxing when he was 15. Greer racked up a 57-3 amateur record, turned pro in 2015 and signed up with Top Rank in 2018. He was raised by his mother Latoya, a phlebotomist and now has two children of his own.

There are over 20 fight cards scheduled this month around the world. Top Rank has six shows on tap, all of them televised on ESPN platforms with no live audience. Austria, China, Mexico, Germany, Poland, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Canada, the Czech Republic and at least six US states are staging fights this month. Since foreign travel to the US is restricted, only fighters now in the country are being tapped for promotions. There are seven known active Filipino fighters staying in the US at this time----Nonito Donaire, Johnriel Casimero, Plania, Reymart Gaballo, John Vincent Moralde, Mark Bernaldez and James Bacon.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.


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