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Second Overtime: "Magic" Mike sings for stardom


PhilBoxing.com




CHICAGO -- SanMan Promotions CEO JC Manangquil remembers it just like it was yesterday.

Eight years ago, on a sticky hot, blistering summer day, a young member of the Philippine national team strolled inside SanMan's old gym along Nunez street, Purok Malakas in barangay San Isidro General Santos.

Armed with a gift for discerning talent, Manangquil, a boxing scholar who himself yearned to be a boxer until his mother knocked out that dream, immediately knew he was watching someone special.

"He was super fast and strong," Manangquil told PhilBoxing.com.

Then only 14 or 15 years young at that time, JC's guest punched so hard that if the mitts had feelings it would have cried of willful, unlawful assault.

That promising boxer was Mike Plania.

The 23-year old odds buster hugged the sports headlines last week when he scored a stunning upset in the main event of a nationally-televised ESPN card held at a crowd-less MGM Grand Hotel and Casino ballroom.

Everyone was surprised with the outcome. Everyone except JC Manangquil.

"That's why I named him 'Magic Mike' because he does some magical stuff in sparring and in actual fights. You saw that happen against Greer," an ecstatic Manangquil, who manages Plania, told this writer.

Magic Mike, pardon the pun, did indeed pull a rabbit out of a hat.



Few gave him a chance to beat Top Rank prospect Joshua Greer, Jr (22-2, 12 KOs), an opponent who entered the ring with a 19-fight win streak and was ranked as the No.1 bantamweight contender by the WBO and No.2 by the IBF.

Although the odds against him went down to plus 275 at fight night, Plania (24-1, 12 KOs) was a plus 500 underdog when the bout was first announced. That meant putting a $100 bet on the GenSan native would yield a $500 dividend.

And just to be clear, there was no abracadabra involved. Neither was any sleight-of-hand.

It was simply a case of Plania unleashing a pair of lightning fast hands.

HE KNOCKED DOWN Greer in the first and sixth rounds. Both staggering blows were left hooks, delivered with enormous speed and impeccable timing.

In fairness to the American from Chicago, Greer mounted a rally in the final three rounds, advancing aggressively like German troops in World War 2, but Plania weathered the storm.

"Kusog sab siya, sir. Dili ka kompyansaan" (He had power and couldn't be taken lightly), Plania said. But beginning in the second round, when he realized he can absorb whatever was coming at him, Plania's confidence only grew stronger.

Had he been given a fight notice of more than three weeks, Plania would have blown out Greer out of the Las Vegas hotel, assures Manangquil.

But a win is a win and so the puzzling majority decision victory that was handed down by the judges will do just fine.

For his trouble, Plania earned a purse of $40,000. On top of the monetary prize, his stock as a contender rose like the U.S. dollar.

Magic Mike isn't telling what's next on his schedule. For now, he just wants go home to General Santos after months of training in the United States.

As it turned out the threat of being infected by the coronavirus was Plania's biggest fear, not Greer.

In the boxing bubble that was created at the MGM Grand, Plania stayed in isolation inside room 12133. To combat boredom he made best friends with the TV remote control and his Android cellular phone.

Mike is back in Miami now waiting for protocols to be cleared to travel abroad.

He trusts and knows that his plane ticket should be forthcoming in the next few days.

Because just like UPS, his manager JC Managquil always delivers.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Homer D. Sayson.


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