Caleb Plant vowed that his first IBF super middleweight title defense wouldn’t go the distance. The champ proved to be a man of his word.
Plant dropped Mike Lee three times in winning by knockout at 1:29 mark of the third round Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, in the featured bout of the Manny Pacquiao-Keith Thurman undercard.
“I stuck to my word,” Plant said in his postfight interview. “I take my hat off to Mike for getting in here because it takes a champion to get in the ring, but it’s ‘and still,’ just like I said, baby.”
Plant (19-0, 11 KOs) showed Lee from the opening bell that he didn’t belong in the same ring. He applied constant pressure, culminating in Plant planting a thudding left hook to send Lee to the mat in the first round.
Instead of trying to figure out Plant, Lee (21-1, 11 KOs) decided to press the issue and overwhelm Plant. That proved to be the wrong idea.
The strategy cost him dearly in the third round when Plant blasted Lee with a right hook to send him down again. Not deterred in the slightest, Lee came rushing at Plant, who appeared to score another knockdown with a check left hook. Referee Robert Byrd didn’t see it, though, and ruled that Plant pushed the Notre Dame graduate down. Realizing he had Lee ripe for the picking, the Tennessee native put Lee out of his misery when he sent him to the mat one time. Byrd immediately stopped the fight, much to the dismay of Lee.
After dispatching Lee, Plant was asked who he wanted next. He said he wants the winner of the Sept. 28 WBC title bout between Anthony Dirrell and David Benavidez, which was announced Saturday.
“We can definitely unify,” the 27-year-old Lee, who is getting married between fights, said. “The winner of (Dirrell-Benavidez) . . . I ain’t hard to get a hold of. Come see me. You know my adviser.”