Regis Prograis: ‘There’s no one at 140 pounds with my resume. I’m the uncrowned champion’
The unbeaten Regis Prograis may not have a title belt but he still believes he’s the best junior welterweight in the world.
Prograis, who is rated No. 1 by THE RING at 140 pounds, does not mince his words and the talented lefty seeks to prove himself once again Saturday night when he squares off against Juan Jose Velasco at the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The 12-round bout, along with the 10-round lightweight bout between Teofimo Lopez and William Silva, will air live on ESPN (7 p.m. ET/ 4 p.m. PT).
The fight marks a homecoming for Prograis, who is originally from New Orleans but was forced to migrate to Houston at the age of 16 due to Hurricane Katrina.
He now looks to showcase his skills to a wider audience on ESPN and bring big time boxing back to his original hometown.
“It’s surreal,” Prograis told The Ring in a recent interview. “I don’t want to think like that because I still have to train for the fight. I have to go out there and put on a good performance. It’s a great opportunity for me and the city of New Orleans. And to bring big time boxing back to New Orleans, I can single-handedly do it. That’s the crazy thing about it.
“I can’t wait. I’m so super-motivated. I’m ready.”
The 28-year-old Prograis decided to train for the Velasco fight in the Los Angeles area, as opposed to Houston, in order to source better sparring.
“I wanted to try something different, said Prograis, who is promoted by Lou DiBella. “I’ve never done a training camp outside of Houston. A lot of fighters leave home and do training camps. I got some real good sparring. You have stairs (in Santa Monica), beaches and mountains. There was a lot of good work (there in Southern California), so I just wanted to try something different. We’ll see how it works out on Saturday.”
In his most recent outing, Prograis (21-0, 18 knockouts) knocked out Julius Indongo in the second round on Mar. 9. With the victory, he became the mandatory challenger to face WBC junior welterweight titleholder Jose Ramirez.
There were preliminary discussions between Top Rank, which promotes Ramirez, and Prograis to fight for the title but no deal was struck.
However, earlier this month, it was announced that the winner of Prograis-Velasco will enter the World Boxing Super Series junior welterweight tournament. The WBA titleholder Kiryl Relikh has also agreed to participate, WBO titleholder Maurice Hooker has been rumored and the vacant IBF title belt will be at stake.
Although DiBella and Prograis could have forced the WBC to mandate the fight against Ramirez, Prograis believes there is a better upside in entering the tournament.
“The World Boxing Super Series (could have) three belts. Jose Ramirez has one belt,” said Prograis. “Would you rather eat three hamburgers or one hamburger? Three, right? So that was the choice for me, but it was leaked I was going to fight in the World Boxing Super Series. I think they (Top Rank) offered me the fight in August when they knew I was going to be in the World Boxing Super Series. I couldn’t do it. If (Ramirez) still has the (WBC) belt by the time I get out, I would love to fight him.”
All the matchups in the WBSS tournament will be officially announced later this month. Should he defeat Velasco, there are no assurances that Prograis will face a world titleholder in the opening round. Regardless, the hard-hitting southpaw believes he belongs at the top.
“You have to have belief in yourself,” reasoned Prograis. “You have to believe you’re the best. If you compare these guys to me, I don’t think they have the resume I have. I fought more undefeated fighters and those who are higher quality, and I’ve put on better performances at the same time.”
“Hooker got a split decision victory over Flanagan. I’ve never had a split decision victory in my life. Only three fighters have gone the distance with me. I fought Julius Indongo in my last fight and he held two world title belts at the same time. He was a (former) champion and I stopped him in two rounds. That’s one round less than when (Terence) Crawford stopped him.”
Velasco (20-0, 12 KOs) will be fighting for the third time outside of Argentina. In his only fight in the U.S. on Sept. 30, in Pojoaque, New Mexico, he stopped Juan Garcia of Mexico in nine.
Prograis wants to make a statement Saturday night to the other junior welterweights at the expense of Velasco. “I want to go out there and perform,” said the home fighter. “He’s unbeaten, but I don’t think he’s fought anyone who I have fought. Joel Diaz was 23-0, 19 knockouts. To me, Joel Diaz is a bigger threat at 140 (pounds). Indongo only lost one fight to Crawford. I still think if he fought any of the current world champions, he can be a champion again.
“There’s no one at 140 pounds with my resume. I’m the uncrowned champion at 140 pounds. Everyone in the media says I’m the best and I believe that too. I don’t let it get to my head. It actually motivates me to go out there and be better.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV.com since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and FightNight.com. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing
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