Caleb Plant vs. Mike Lee on July 20 LIVE on FOX
By Tim Royner: IBF super middleweight champion Caleb Plant (18-0, 10 KOs) will be making his first defense of his title on July 20 against unbeaten light heavyweight contender Mike Lee (21-0, 11 KOs) on Premier Boxing Champions on FOX and FOX Deportes at a still to be determined venue in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Plant vs. Lee fight will be taking place at the same venue as the fight between welterweight champions Manny Pacquiao and Keith Thurman. That fight is will be shown on Fox Sports PPV, whereas the Plant-Lee match will be on non-PPV on FOX.
It’s interesting that Plant’s management at PBC has chosen to match him against a light heavyweight in 31-year-old Lee rather than a contender from the 168-pound weight class. Lee is ranked #9 WBA, #12 WBO, #15 IBF at 175, but he’s not ranked at super middleweight. Lee has fought just once in the last year and a half in defeating 36-year-old light heavyweight Jose Hernandez (19-5-1, 9 KOs) by a 10 round unanimous decision in June 2018. Lee has been out of the ring ever since then. Before that, Lee had been out of the ring for nine months after beating an obscure fighter named Aaron Quattrocchi (11-2-1, 5 KOs) by a first round knockout in September 2017. It’s unknown why Lee isn’t fighting very often.
Given the poor opposition that Lee has been facing, you would think that he could at least fight three times a year if not six times. He’s fought horrible opposition for a fighter ranked as high as he is at 175. Right now, Lee looks like a part time fighter at best. He’s done nothing to deserve a world title shot against Plant aside from the high rankings that he’s been given by the IBF, WBA and WBO at 175.
Lee’s best wins during his nine year pro career have come against these fighters:
– Chris Traietti (27-4, 21 KOs)
– Justin Thomas (19-4, 7 KOs)
– Jose Hernandez (19-5-1, 9 KOs)
The rest of the fighters that Lee has compiled his record against have been dreadfully poor to the point where you have wonder what the IBF, WBA and WBO are thinking in giving him a ranking at all. There are no notable opponents on Lee’s pro resume that would suggest that he deserves to be ranked in top 15 at all, period. Lee went to University of Notre Dame, and earned a bachelor’s degree in Finance. It’s unclear how that earned him a title shot against Plant. It makes for a good story that Lee is getting a title shot, but there’s no notable wins on resume that one can look at to say that he should be fighting for a world title.
For the 26-year-old Plant, this is a good thing that he’s matched against Lee. With that type of opponent for his maiden title defense for his IBF strap, Plant doesn’t have to worry about losing as much as he would if he was defending his title against one of the highly ranked contenders in the International Boxing Federation’s top 15 at 168, like Chris Eubank Jr., John Ryder, Jurgen Brahmer or Caleb Truax. It’s anyone’s guess whether Plant’s management attempted to put together a fight between him and one of those top contenders in the IBF’s rankings.
Some boxing fans see Plant as the weakest link among the current 168 lb champions. The two WBA champions Callum Smith and Saul Canelo Alvarez would certainly be favored to beat Plant if they were to face him. Once David Benavidez and Billy Joe Saunders get their hands on world titles at 168, they would likely be favored to beat Plant as well.
Plant captured his IBF super middleweight title recently in beating Jose Uzcategui by a 12 round unanimous decision earlier this year on January 13 at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, California. Not known for his punching power, Plant knocked Uzcategui down in rounds two and four in winning a 12 round decision by the scores 116-110, 116-110 and 115-111. Plant looks like a good fighter, but not someone that is going to be able to hold onto his IBF title for a long time before losing it. We’re not talking about Joe Calzaghe or Bernard Hopkins here. Plant isn’t that type of a talent. He’s more of a blue collar type of guy that lucked out in having a beatable champion in Uzcategui to go after for his strap. If this had been Benavidez, Canelo, Saunders or Callum Smith that held the IBF belt earlier this year, Plant would have likely out of luck against those guys.