As Ra’eese Aleem inches closer to a title shot, his biggest challenge might not be defeating Mike Plaina but selecting the most entertaining strategy to do it.
Aleem is keenly aware that at 32 years old and 11 years into his career, he’s taken the long path to arrive at his biggest moment — fighting on the preliminary FS1 portion of the Andy Ruiz vs. Luis Ortiz ppv card. Far from a showcase bout, Plaina has pedigree in spoiling coming out parties of surging fighters. Back in 2020, Plaina dropped Joshua Greer twice to score a majority decision over Joshua Greer on ESPN.
“I’m extremely excited for this fight,” said Aleem. “I’m looking forward to a great matchup. It’s going to be a tough fight and I cannot wait.
“This is a testament to my hard work. Everything that goes into training has been worth it. I’ve earned this spot. I sacrificed to be here and I’m looking forward to earning some new fans.”
As an aggressive boxer-puncher, the question of Aleem’s strategy looms large against Plaina, a formidable come-forward fighter in his own right with a powerful left hook. With Aleem’s three-inch reach advantage, (68″ to 65″), one might expect him to counter-punch from distance as he notably did in scoring four knockdowns in a 11th round stoppage over previously-undefeated Vic Pasillas last year. However, Aleem hints his adaptability will be the biggest weapon this weekend.
“I believe that I have multiple paths to victory,” Aleem explained. “Not only against Plania, but against most of the guys who I’ve fought. I’m capable of doing a lot in the ring and I just have to stick to the game plan and execute.
“When you fight on stages like this, you have to put on your best performance. That’s the goal every time I step into the ring. I want to show everyone exactly who I am.”
Plania currently holds the #2 ranking for the WBO super bantamweight title, currently held by unified WBC champion Stephen Fulton. A career-best display immediately makes the case for Aleem as a potential opponent for Fulton, who’s on record as desiring another fight by year’s end to build upon his dominant win over Danny Roman in June.
“This is my chance to show everyone that I am the next contender to face Stephen Fulton Jr. for his world titles,” Aleem declared. “I believe our paths will cross, but I have to get through an extremely tough opponent first.
“I’m putting on a spectacular performance Sunday. Everyone will be talking about how great the fight was and I’ll have my hand raised.”
Aleem vs. Plaina will lead the Fox FS1 broadcast in a 10-round contest on Sunday, September 4 beginning at 7 p.m. ET.