Caleb Plant defends his 168-pound title for the first time against Mike Lee on July 20, 2019, in the co-main event of the Manny Pacquiao vs Keith Thurman showdown at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Plant is the IBF super middleweight champion since January 13, 2019. He won the belt by outpointing Colombian Jose Uzcategui via unanimous decision in a fight where he dropped Uzcategui twice en route to victory. As an amateur, Plant won the 2011 Golden Gloves in the light heavyweight division. He was also an alternate on the United States boxing team to the 2012 Summer Olympics.
Known as Sweethands, Caleb Plant has an undefeated record of 18-0 with 10 knockouts. The 26-year old from Ashland City in Tennessee stands 6-1 tall and has a reach of 74 inches while fighting out of the orthodox stance. He’s gone the distance in his last five bouts, winning all of them by unanimous decision.
Plant proved that he is among the elites of the division when he outpointed the bogeyman of the weight class in Uzcategui. Until that bout, Plant was an untested prospect who had fast hands and good punching power. Uzcategui was seen as a big step up in the level of opposition for him. But Plant showed that he was ready and that he is a world champion. He even dropped Uzcategui twice for good measure.
Odds from Bet365 as of 6/20/19.
Lee was one of Top Rank’s prospects nearly a decade ago. Armed with 3.8 GPA and a Finance degree from Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, Lee was cast in a Subway commercial which aired during the 2013 Super Bowl. As an amateur, Lee competed in the Chicago Golden Gloves’ sub-novice class.
The 32-year old from Downers Grove, Illinois has a record of 21-0 with 11 knockouts. Lee is an orthodox fighter who stands 6-0 tall and has a reach of 74 inches. Lee has won half of his last eight bouts via stoppage. His last bout was 10-round unanimous decision win over Jose Hernandez almost a year ago. He won the vacant NABO Light Heavyweight title in that contest.
Lee’s best attribute is his ring intelligence and that’s not something that was taught in Notre Dame. But as smart and analytical he is outside the ring, he is just as intelligent when he puts on those gloves. He is always well-conditioned when he fights and when he’s on top of that ring, he moves a lot to avoid getting hit and confuse his opponents.
Both of these fighters nearly have the same ring experience with Lee having a slight advantage with three more professional bouts under his belt. But Lee hasn’t fought in a year while Plant is coming off a January title fight. When it comes to experience though, it’s not the number of fights nor the last time each has fought that matters here. It’s in the quality of opposition and that’s why Plant is a big boxing betting favorite in this title fight.
In his nine-year boxing career, Mike Lee has been content with fighting opponents who didn’t have a chance of beating him and he’s done so at light-heavyweight. Lee has never fought at 168 before and in fact, he’s never weighed lower than 173 pounds in his career. Those are going to be factors when he faces a quality fighter like Caleb Plant.
Plant’s resume isn’t so much better than Mike Lee’s. However, he’s always stepped up when the quality of opposition has been raised. Plant’s biggest wins have come against Rogelio “Porky” Medina and Uzcategui who are both at world level. Mike Lee has never even faced someone near Medina’s level.
The champion has never been dropped in his professional boxing career. Lee has been down once so given the difference in their level of opposition, we can assume that Plant has the better chin. Although Plant has several wins by decision, none of them were disputed. As for Mike Lee, he’s got three MD wins. I’m not saying he lost those bouts but they all could have gone either way. Again, given the quality of opposition faced, that shows how much of a better boxer Caleb Plant is.
When it comes to power, none of these two are devastating knockout artists. While Plant scored a pair of knockdowns against Uzcategui, he isn’t really a power puncher and had 10 stoppages in 18 wins. Mike Lee is also a fighter not known for his knockout ability. Both have almost the same knockout ratio but after watching Plant drop Uzcategui, I think he has better power between the two.
I think Mike Lee is going to make this a competitive fight. He’s a guy who always comes out to fight. But while this is going to be a good one, I think it’s going to be a one-sided bout in favor of the champion. Caleb Plant is the better boxer and the harder puncher here.
I don’t see a knockout coming because these aren’t heavy-handed fighters. But I see the champion beating up Lee at some point in the bout. Plant has sweet hands, that’s why they call him that. Lee will find out first hand on July 20. Prediction: Caleb Plant by unanimous decision