One to watch in 2018: Regis Prograis
You and I are pondering resolutions that we know, in the backs of our minds, will not make it out of January 2018 alive. Meanwhile, the ring and cage warriors we revere are plotting their New Years and picturing epic chapters featuring momentous title shots, triumphant victories and defenses, massive growth in popularity and earning potential. They are different than we are, these ring generals…
One guy who sits high atop my must, must-watch list for fighters I believe will have a breakthrough 2018 is Regis Prograis, the undefeated 140-pound ace, who holds the NABF crown. At 20-0, with 17 knockouts, he might just be the jewel of the Lou DiBella stable, and I don’t pretend I’m not eager to see if his ring exploits in the coming year match my expectations – which, yes, are high.
I chatted with the 28-year-old Louisiana native, who now makes Houston, Texas, his home. “Yes, 2018 should definitely be a breakthrough year for me,” said the hitter nicknamed “Rougarou.” “I should be fighting Viktor Postol next and then the winner of the Amir Iman vs. Jose Carlos Ramirez fight (March 17) for the WBC super lightweight title.”
Solid! So…has he started scouting Postol, 33 (29-1, 12 KOs), yet? He last fought in September, downing Jamshidbek Najmiddinov in Kiev, Ukraine, via 10-round unanimous decision. Before that, he’d been beaten by former undisputed junior welterweight champion Terence Crawford, via decision, super conclusively.
“No, I don’t watch or study my opponents,” Prograis said. “That’s usually my coach’s job to do that.”
And for the record, Bobby Benton corners Prograis and Evins Tobler is his strength-and-conditioning coach.
And if someone hasn’t seen Prograis’ work or hasn’t watched “ShoBox” regularly over the past couple years, what sort of style can they expect? Cajun-style pugilism?
“I wouldn’t say I have a Louisiana style,” Prograis continued. “I just watch a lot of boxing and try to use what can work for me. My favorite fighters are Mike Tyson, Roberto Duran, Henry Armstrong and Pernell Whitaker. But I learned the most from watching Duran and Pernell.” That should help give you a sense of what Postol could be seeing, fairly soon, maybe early March.
Prograis, ranked No. 4 at junior welterweight by THE RING Magazine, has a fan-friendly style. He gets in a foe’s face, swarms him, gets an advantageous angle, rat-a-tats, flurriyng low and high, stays attuned to a counter, composes himself and, all the while, shows a Cajun cool. He doesn’t get flustered, aims on both sides of the body and takes apart opposition, piece by piece.
I did wonder, is Prograis looking to have us all do a compare-and-contrast with Crawford on how he deals with Postol?
“Yes, when we fight, I plan on making a statement. If I can stop him, then it should really get people talking because Crawford didn’t,” the New Orleans native stated.
And does he think maybe he and Crawford might eventually tango in the future?
“Yeah, I think so. But first I want to take over the whole 140 division like Crawford did, get all the belts. And then, one day, I’ll eventually go up north to 147.” For the record, Prograis debuted as a pro in 2012, at 143, was as high as 151 for one fight but has settled in at 140.
The fighter told me more about his relationship with Benton, the trainer. “Yeah, we just clicked. I think mainly because of our attitudes to learning and the ego factor. He doesn’t have an ego, so he knows he doesn’t know everything and can learn from everyone. A lot of trainers think they know everything and don’t want to listen to opinions about their fighters from other people or trainers. It’s a few trainers in our gym and they all kind of work as one big team. Boxing is about learning. And another reason we clicked is because of his style of training is perfect to my style of fighting.”
And can Prograis share more about himself outside the ring and his holiday plans? “I’m always gone because I travel a lot these days…but home is in Houston for now. Maybe I’ll move in a few years or so. Outside of boxing, the main thing I do is go home to New Orleans. I’m here now for Christmas. In New Orleans, we are big on family, so I always enjoy going home and seeing my friends and family. Most of my close friends and family live in New Orleans. It’s hard because now I have family in Houston and Brazil, through my wife’s family, so I try to split my time evenly.”
DiBella promotes Regis and, yes, no surprise, he’s jazzed up about his fighter’s talent and potential. “Regis is the most explosive, young American talent in boxing! He will get the fight with Postol to solidify his reputation as an emerging young champion. And he has the ability to unify at 140.”
My three cents: Really, truly, I dig Prograis’ arsenal. He’s got the feet-fists dynamic down and will only be getting better as he gets big opportunities and I believe he’ll pass those tests.
Follow Michael Woods on Twitter @Woodsy1069.
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