by Keith Idec
LAS VEGAS – Caleb Plant taught Mike Lee the lesson he promised prior to their super middleweight title fight.
The undefeated Plant floored Lee once in the first round and twice in the third round, when he knocked out the previously unbeaten Lee on Saturday. Referee Robert Byrd stopped their scheduled 12-round, 168-pound championship match at 1:29 of the third round on the Manny Pacquiao-Keith Thurman undercard at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The 27-year-old Plant (19-0, 11 KOs), of Ashland City, Tennessee, made the first defense of his IBF super middleweight title.
The 32-year-old Lee lost for the first time as a pro (21-1, 11 KOs), against an opponent who was a significant step up in competition from his first 21 professional opponents. Lee, a Notre Dame graduate from Wheaton, Illinois, moved down from light heavyweight to challenge Plant and fought at the super middleweight limit for the first time since he turned pro in May 2010.
“It went exactly how I planned it would go,” Plant said. “Absolutely. I’ve been you all week it wasn’t gonna go 12 rounds, and I stuck to my word and I tried to do that. I hope you guys had a good time.
“I tip my hat to Mike because it takes a true champion to step between these ropes. But it’s, ‘And still,’ just like I predicted.”
An overhand right by Plant sent Lee to canvas 31 seconds into the third round. Lee reached his feet, but Plant hit him with a left hook that sent Lee to the canvas again.
Byrd ruled that knockdown a push by Plant, whose punch partially was blocked by Lee’s right glove. It didn’t take much longer, though, for Plant to send Lee to the canvas again, this time with a right hand to the side of Lee’s head.
Byrd waved an end to the fight as Lee attempted to get up again. A frustrated Lee vehemently protested the stoppage, yet after the fight said he understood Byrd’s decision and had no issue with it.
After dropping Lee during the first round, Plant landed an array of shots to Lee’s head and body throughout the second round. A hard right to the body by Plant late in the second made Lee implore Plant to keep coming.
A left hook by Plant knocked an off-balance Lee to the seat of his trunks with 37 seconds remaining in the first round. Lee quickly got up and tried to trade with Plant, who appeared to buzz Lee with a right hand before the first round ended.
“The speed was the difference,” Lee said. “He’s fast and very accurate. I had some success with my right hands, but wasn’t able to be consistent with it.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.