While Joshua Greer Jr. came in with all the hype, Mike Plania was the young boxer who made the loudest statement on Top Rank's Tuesday night card in Las Vegas.
It wasn't that hard to do, however.
The first four bouts on the five-fight card didn't see a fighter get knocked down. That changed not long after the opening bell sounded in the main event, when Plania's left hook planted Greer, who entered Tuesday ranked No. 1 by the WBO and No. 2 by the IBF in the bantamweight division. The 23-year-old Plania scored another knockdown in Round 6 en route to a majority decision win, improving his record to 24-1.
ESPN's expert panel of Ben Baby, Steve Kim and Cameron Wolfe breaks down the action at the MGM Grand Convention Center, which included a controversial decision win for prospect Giovani Santillan over former world titlist Antonio DeMarco.
Where does Joshua Greer Jr. go after this loss? Have we seen the best of him?
Greer vows to bounce back after loss to Plania
Joshua Greer Jr. talks with Bernardo Osuna and insists he will be back after falling short to Mike Plania by majority decision.
Baby: The end of the upset loss showed why it's still too early to write Greer off. At some point between the seventh and eighth rounds, Greer realized he needed to press the action. In the last nine minutes, Greer overwhelmed Mike Plania, who was literally holding on in the 10th round and survived an awful 94-94 card from judge Dave Moretti to pick up the majority decision.
Greer appeared to lack the confidence to throw his power shots after he was knocked down in the first round. Once he hit the canvas again in the sixth round, he was all but destined for defeat. Greer rebounded from a loss early in his career to turn himself into a quality prospect. He'll need to do that again in order to be in the conversation for a potential title fight.
Kim: Based on his past three fights, yes, he seems to have hit his ceiling. He's solid, but it's clear that his power is not the same as the top fighters in the division. And as of now, he hasn't quite harnessed all his athleticism into making him a more well-rounded technician who can clearly outbox real contenders. In his past three bouts, decision victories against Nikolai Potapov and Antonio Nieves and the loss to Mike Plania, you see his shortcomings.
His power isn't as vaunted as once thought, so he's going to have to develop more skills or adopt a different mindset. To his credit, he rallied a bit in the late rounds as he took a much more aggressive tact and decided to just make it more of a dogfight fighting inside against Plania. His ring identity had been of a puncher, but perhaps the realization has come that he really isn't one.
Wolfe: First, he needs to get back in the gym. I hope we don't see him fight for a bit as he works on his game. He was coming off two sluggish wins before surprisingly taking a loss in his big showcase fight. He got knocked down twice and barely looked competitive in the first half of the fight.
There's no sugarcoating how disappointing tonight was for Greer. He needs to take a step back because he's not ready to contend for a title. From what we saw, I'm worried that we've seen Greer reach his ceiling unless he reworks his boxing game. Greer's just 26, so his chances of being a contender aren't over, but he has a lot of work to rebuild.
What did Mike Plania show you tonight? How did he get it done?
What to make of Mike Plania's win over Joshua Greer
Mark Kriegel breaks down the bright future of Mike Plania after he defeated Joshua Greer Jr. via majority decision.
Baby: Plania looked incredibly comfortable and confident against a highly touted contender. After he dropped Greer with a left hook in the sixth, he came out of the neutral corner with his hands tucked behind his back, mimicking the legendary Roy Jones Jr., who never lacked in-ring bravado.
The confidence stemmed from that effective left hook. At times, Plania tripled up on the punch while Greer was hesitant to let his own power shots loose, a testament to how that fight felt until the final rounds. Plania needs to improve his conditioning, but he has the fundamentals to be someone to watch at super bantamweight.
Kim: He's a lot like WBO belt-holder and countryman John Riel Casimero, in a sense that they aren't the most technically sound or fundamentally grounded boxers out there, but they have something you can't teach -- power. And Plania has one of the most unusual-looking left hooks you'll ever see -- one that is very difficult to decipher, as Greer found out -- and it comes very rapidly, without anything else setting it up.
Plania also has a pretty good amount of speed and quickness. He can jump out at you with explosive punches and keep you on the defensive with his twitchy movements. He also fights with a certain confidence. Plania from the very onset was the boss in there tonight, and he had Greer very mindful of his sudden power punches. Plania is flawed but at the same time very dangerous.
Wolfe: Plania earned his place as the star of the night with his brilliant left hook. He said after the fight "this win will change my life," and he's right. Plania, a lightly unknown prospect coming into this fight, now has the boxing world's attention. He has earned himself a shot in another main event against a potential contender.
His game plan was exactly what we should have seen from Greer -- fearless and aggressive while eagerly waiting for a chance to unleash his special left hand. He dropped Greer in Round 1, changing the fight, then again in Round 6. Though he ran out of steam late, Plania's power stole the show.
Do you agree with the scoring of DeMarco-Santillan?
Baby: Antonio DeMarco should have gotten the decision over Giovani Santillan. I'm not really sure what judge Tim Cheatham was watching, especially in the middle of the fight. Cheatham, who scored the fight 96-94 for Santillan, gave rounds four through eight to the undefeated prospect.
In the sixth and seventh rounds combined, DeMarco landed 54.2% of his power shots compared to 32.8% for Santillan. DeMarco appeared to hurt Santillan and never seemed fazed by the prospect's punches. However, the veteran should know by now that it's not enough to hope for the judges to get it right. DeMarco appeared to slow down toward the end of the fight, giving Santillan the opportunity to steal a win and maintain his undefeated record.
Kim: No. My personal card had DeMarco winning 96-94, and I was probably being a bit generous to Santillan. The cleaner, more accurate punches were landed by DeMarco, who used his veteran savvy to slow the pace down when he wanted to, then laid traps on the inside. And as Santillan stayed stagnant, DeMarco landed effective right hooks to the body and uppercuts down the middle that bloodied Santillan's nose.
There were times that Santillan outworked and outhustled DeMarco, but most times those salvos were met by solid counter punches that blunted the activity of Santillan, who probably learned a few things in there tonight. He was fortunate to get his hand raised in victory.
Wolfe: I had it as a draw, so I don't think it was robbery as some suggested, but I was closer to giving the fight to DeMarco than I ever was to Santillan. The CompuBox numbers for total punches, landed punches and power punches were similar, though the fighter with the zero in the loss column seemed to get the benefit of the doubt.
That being said, I'm flabbergasted at Tim Cheatham's scorecard, which gave Rounds 4, 5, 6 and 7 to Santillan and Rounds 9 and 10 to DeMarco. The "Santillan rounds" on that card were some of his worst, and Round 9 might have been Santillan's best. DeMarco did himself no favors by taking his foot off the pedal late in the fight, though. Santillan got the benefit of shaky scorecards Tuesday night, but he shouldn't confuse this win as meaning he's ready to face a true contending welterweight. He's definitely not.
What surprised you the most tonight?
Baby: I'll probably go against the grain and go with Antonio DeMarco. While Mike Plania scored the upset win, DeMarco had struggled to find success in recent fights and is essentially at the end of his career. But that didn't stop him from outperforming Giovani Santillan, even if the scorecards didn't reflect who the better fighter was on Tuesday night. It was a good enough showing for DeMarco to earn another notable fight.
Kim: That DeMarco still had a lot left in the tank. The 34-year-old has had a lot of hard miles during his journey, where he battled the likes of Jorge Linares, Adrien Broner and Edwin Valero, but he showed tonight that he can still make life very difficult for young prospects. The consensus is that he deserved the nod against Santillan. But even in defeat, DeMarco once again distinguished himself admirably, and he likely earned another payday.
Right now, he's the gatekeeper at 147.
Wolfe: Greer's lackluster performance. He's the first A-side fighter to lose a main event since boxing returned to ESPN, and he did so in a shocking rout. After guaranteeing a knockout and so much attention on his pillow gimmick, it was Greer who was in danger of needing a pillow tonight.
I'm not sure if he underestimated Plania, wasn't properly prepared to fight or just lost to a better fighter. But either way, it's a shame that Greer waited until Round 8 -- after he got knocked down twice -- to become more aggressive, throwing power punches and hunting down Plania. Greer showed then he had the goods to beat Plania, but it's frustrating that he waited so long.
What was the biggest moment of the night?
Baby: Tuesday's Top Rank card slogged along until the first round of the Plania-Greer fight, when Plania dropped Greer with a quick left hook that deserved everyone's attention. From that moment, Plania showed that Greer's status as a budding prospect was in peril and proved that was the case with his majority decision. As for the knockdown, it was a clean and precise left hook. It doesn't get much better than that.
Kim: When Greer went crashing to the canvas in the first, you knew right away that this was anything but a tune-up or a stay-busy fight for him. Plania was dangerous, and he was a committed fighter who knew that a victory would catapult him to some big possibilities in the bantamweight division. And that first knockdown had a lingering effect, because for much of the early stages of the fight, until the late rounds, Greer was very reticent to mix it up with Plania. Sometimes an early knockdown can impact more than just one round.
That early left hook served notice that Plania was anything but just an "opponent."
Wolfe: Plania catching Greer with a perfect left hook, sending the fight favorite to the canvas in Round 1. It was a wakeup shot for fans who though Greer might cruise to an easy win. That was the moment we began wondering if the wrong guy had been hyped up leading into the fight.
It was a moment that would've had a crowd roaring if there were fans, so that part of it was subdued a bit. But it changed the entire dynamic of the fight. Greer fought cautious for the next six rounds, and he couldn't get back engaged until it was too late.