Tuesday, September 26, 2023  |


Ra’eese Aleem takes aim at Mike Plania, believes he’s being avoided by 122-pound champs

Ra'eese Aleem (right) stopped Victor Pasillas in 11. Photo by Amanda Westcott/Showtime
Fighters Network

Junior featherweight dangerman Ra’eese Aleem will face Mike Plania in a scheduled 10-round contest at the Crypto.com Arena (formerly Staples Center) on Sunday.

Aleem, who is rated No. 4 by The Ring at 122 pounds, welcomes the challenge that the once-beaten Filipino presents.

“It’s going to be a very entertaining fight because we both like to let our hands go and throw hard punches,” Aleem (19-0, 12 knockouts) told The Ring. “He does a lot of things well, that’s why he’s fighting at the top level.

“He’s very tough and I’m expecting an explosive fight, but I’m going to steal the show.”

The 32-year-old Michigan native finally got his big break when he upset previously unbeaten Vic Pasillas in January 2021.

“I never had any doubt in my mind that I was going to [beat] Pasillas,” he said. “As we all know, I dominated that fight.

“My belief in my talent is stronger than ever. I know what I can do and I know what I expect from myself. I’m going to do everything in my power to keep my undefeated record intact.”

Aleem acknowledges that he’s struggled to stay busy and secure a world title fight.

“There have been a lot of bumps in my journey to where I’m at today,” he explained. “Some managerial issues were part of the long layoffs early in my career.

“Lately, it’s been situations that were out of my control that have halted my career. It can get frustrating at times, but I keep pushing through. I’m grateful to my manager, Greg Hannley, for keeping me afloat during these down times.”

Aleem believes a win over Plania will force either WBC/ WBO titleholder Stephen Fulton or IBF/ WBA titlist Murodjon Akhmadaliev to face him next.

“I want to fight for the title but I’m not sure either of them will step in the ring with me,” said the unbeaten contender. “This fight against Plania will lead to a title elimination bout. When I win, I’ll be knocking on the door of a title shot. They will have to vacate or fight me.”

Plania (26-1, 13 KOs) turned professional in 2014. He won his first 15 fights, with all but one taking place in the Philippines, before losing to the more experienced former WBA 118-pound titleholder Juan Carlos Payano (UD 10). “Magic” Mike returned to his homeland and got back to winning ways. In June 2020, he ventured to Las Vegas and upset Joshua Greer (MD 10). The 25-year-old has been marking time since.

Aleem-Plania will be a part of the Fox Sports Pay-Per-View headlined by Andy Ruiz vs. Luis Ortiz. The broadcast will begin at 9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT.


Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright