Caleb Plant vs Juan De Angel, Martin vs Grayton, Mixon vs Gongora & Triplett vs Newell
BY KID HERSH
PBC Toe-to-Toe Tuesdays on FS1 from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. First up was a battle of undefeated light heavyweight prospects in Carlos Gongora (5-0, 4KO's) vs Ronald Mixon (7-0, 6KO's). We had two southpaws in the ring but we didn't get to see a whole lot of boxing as the first left hand that Gongora unleashed thudded home on Mixon and put him down in pieces. Mixon came to and tried to get up but was clearly not in any sort of condition to continue. He pleaded to continue once it was waved off in one of those times where you can really tell the guy wanted to continue fighting and not take a loss but it was stopped nonetheless. On a side note, the Ecuadorian Gongora is a two time Olympian and so this fight while very short and not saying a whole lot does make him a guy to watch for sure.
Next up was Kareem Martin (8-0-1, 3KO's) vs David Grayton (14-1, 10KO's). In the first round it was Martin that was picking his shots very wisely and very precise with them. He was waiting to counter Grayton with the right hand through the first he couldn't miss with it. Martin was also showing very good head movement as Grayton was having trouble finding the mark to his head, only able to really hit him to the body when he went to it. This continued through the second round, with Martin able to hit the mark even more flush in spots. We had a battle between "talkers", as I like to call them, with both men being vocal when they throw shots. Grayton suffered a cut above his right eye from an accidental clash of heads, but he had veteran cutman Todd Harlib in his corner and we never saw anything else from the cut in the coming rounds. The fight did slow down in pace just a bit but it was Grayton that was being the aggressor and throwing more punches while Martin seemed to be fading just a bit in the fifth round. In the sixth the war of attrition really showed, with Martin wilting to the pressure of Grayton. Grayton put on a vicious body attack in the sixth round that had Martin nearly doubling over from the damage. Martin hung on though, showing great toughness, while winging right hands that hit home on Grayton. Grayton took them well but you could see that the punches did just enough to back him off from getting the possible stoppage. Martin was on his wheels in the seventh round, noticeably tired and not really landing anything of note. Grayton, meanwhile, was trying to walk him down and was successful but not landing the clean and crisp shots that he was a couple rounds ago. In the eighth and final round the damage mounted to Grayton getting the stoppage when he landed a right hook left hand combo that put Martin down. Martins legs were not beneath him and veteran referee Benjiy Esteves stopped the fight after giving him a chance and allowing it to continue. Big win for Grayton here, who may have needed the knockdown or even the stoppage to win in this close fight where he got off to a slow start but closed the show late.
Before the main event Wesley Triplett would get a third round TKO stoppage of Eric Newell. He had the heavier hands and just plain appeared to be in better shape. Triplett did rely heavily on his power, however, and needs to utilize his jab more because of his tall and lengthy frame in the heavyweight division. Steve USS Cunningham pointed out these things in the fight and I gotta completely agree with him.
Main event time featuring Caleb "Sweet Hands" Plant (13-0, 10KO's) vs Juan De Angel (18-4-1, 17KO's). In the first round Plant showed amazing speed and accuracy as he picked De Angel apart with those tools. Angel looked a bit frozen, unsure of what to do with the sharp, fast-punching fighter in front of him. It was more of the same in the coming rounds, with Plant walking down Angel slowly a bit more by the third round, ramping up the pressure. Angel was giving ground with his right hand cocked and looking to counter and knock his man out with a single blow. He finally landed that right hand in the final minute of the third round, after Plant landed his most solid right hand of the fight and pursued Angel thinking that he was hurt. Both men ate the others right hand well with no legs buckling - not a good sign for Angel who is really banking on the knockout. Plant would continue his pressure and accurate punching, scoring a knockdown midway through the fourth round when he landed a left hand to the chin of Angel. Angel rose and looked more dangerous than ever so Plant backed off going for the kill like he was initially going to since his man was not as hurt as it would seem when he crumpled to the canvas - more of a flash knockdown. Plant continued doing what was working - looking exactly as he had to start the fight by pressing his man lightly and picking his spots to land accurately, utilizing his speed and skills not his power. So he was not doing much damage but he was easily winning the rounds with clean punching and elusive defense. Plant was pitching an easy shutout, and even when De Angel got a bit cocky by showing that he was not hurt - such as two minutes into the seventh round when he did a bit of a shuffle as if to say "I'm fine lets fight already!" Plant immediately slammed home a left to the body that Angel walked right into. So, Angel trying to psyche himself into the fight was not even going to work for him tonight. Plant would then turn up the pressure for the remainder of the round while still showing amazingly slick defense. Plants jab was really on display and it might be one of the best ones out there for prospects because he is just so amazingly fast and accurate with it. He can also throw it from anywhere and has great stamina to boot. I know this is a slow paced fight but he is every bit as sharp in the ninth and tenth rounds as he was to start the fight. Perhaps even more sharp and warmed up. Plant would go on to win the shutout UD. It was one of those cases where it wasn't so much that Sweet Hands couldn't take his man out due to skill disparity, so much as we can see from Angels record that he carries a serious punch and he had that right hand cocked for the entire fight and was looking to land it by setting up traps for Plant to walk into. Plant was showing us his boxing ability in not falling into those traps. Great showing in my opinion, as Angel only landed 57 punches through the entire ten rounds. I like the cockiness from Plant - it's an attitude that I like seeing from someone that aspires to be a world champion because you know immediately that he isn't going down without a serious fight due to that motivation. Not to mention Caleb Plants story is a really touching one, with his daughter passing away at only 19 months old from a rare medical condition and before she passed away Plant promised her that he would become a world champion. Perhaps that is the extra motivation we see in the ring that sometimes looks like straight cockiness.