IBF Super Middleweight World champion Caleb Plant (18-0, 10 KO’s) says he expects challenger Mike Lee (21-0, 11 KO’s) to ‘bail out’ when the pair meet on July 20 in Las Vegas. Plant – who claimed the IBF strap with an impressive points victory against Venezuela’s Jose Uzcategui back in January – makes the first defence of his title against Lee in an all-American showdown on the Manny Pacquiao vs. Keith Thurman bill.
Speaking to international media on a pre-fight conference call, the champion – known as ‘Sweethands’ – said he firmly believes that the ‘delusional’ Mike Lee will not hear the final bell – adding that he would ‘learn a lesson’ on July 20.
“I’m going to let these hands do the talking on July 20, but no, he’s delusional,” He said. “He’s never faced anybody like me. He’s never even come close. He just told you guys that he’s not even getting the sparring of anybody who even looks like me.
“How many people do you think I can spar that fight like Mike Lee? How many people do you think he can spar that look like me? And he answered it for you. I don’t even have to tell you. So no, he has no idea but that’s okay.
“He’s going to learn a lesson July 20 – one that can only be taught by me. I don’t like him that much. I don’t like anybody who’s in the ring with me. I don’t want to be friends. I don’t care about what they’ve got going on. To me, boxing is life or death so if I don’t win, I don’t get to go home because I won’t have a home.
“Expect fireworks. Mike Lee won’t make it out the final bell so either he’ll bail out before the final bell or I’ll bail him out myself but, either the way the white flag is coming out. I’ll wave it for him so it’s going to be one or the other.”
Lee – who has operated as a light heavyweight throughout his career – expressed his excitement ahead of his super middleweight title challenge, also insisting his team will guide him comfortably down to the 168lb limit ahead of July 20. Lee said:
“I’m excited. This is an incredible opportunity and I will make the most of it. I think I’m going to shock a lot of people. I know that this is my moment and as moments get bigger and bigger, I perform better and better. It only takes one punch, especially when you have power like mine. It only takes one punch to win something so I like the position I’m in.
“You’ve just got to get scientific with [the weight cut], and that’s where I get smarter people than me around me and just trusting the team. It’s really about trust. Trusting that the weights I’m pulling are where it needs to be and you’re getting the right carbs, the right amount of fats, the right protein, all that stuff.
“I have guys around me that have been doing this their entire lives and understand that. So in terms of preparation, everything gets ramped up for the world title fight. The hunger is increased, the training increases, you’re working harder and smarter. I’m bringing this excited energy to all these training sessions and that’s what I’ve wanted for a long time.”
The unbeaten super middleweight pair clash on July 20 at the MGM Grand, as part of the Manny Pacquiao vs Keith Thurman bill. Also on the card is a welterweight battle between Yordenis Ugas (23-4, 11 KO’s) and Omar Figueroa Jr (28-0-1, 19 KO’s), as well as a twelve-round showdown between Bantamweights Luis Nery (29-0, 23 KO’s) and Juan Carlos Payano (21-2, 9 KO’s).