Regis Prograis on cusp of breaking through after impressive win over Terry Flanagan
Regis Prograis always possesses the talent to one day land himself on boxing’s ever-elusive pound-for-pound list.
The speed, athleticism and power were evident as he worked his way from prospect to contender. Now The Ring’s No. 1 junior welterweight, Prograis turned heads last year with a second-round stoppage of former unified champ Julius Indongo. Impressive, no doubt, but a small sample size to see how he truly deals with a world-class opponent.
So Prograis stayed busy with a seventh-round stoppage of Juan Jose Velasco in July as he waited for the World Boxing Super Series to commence, and even in that victory, he absorbed a surprising number of power shots from his unheralded foe.
At 29 years old, Prograis is still improving, and he showed off the fruits of his labor with his best performance to date Saturday in his native New Orleans. Finally, it all came together for “Rougarou,” who boxed off the back foot beautifully with plenty of well-timed counters and an educated jab that set up his offense.
Prograis (23-0, 19 knockouts) outboxed Flanagan from start to finish in their World Boxing Super Series quarterfinal, and his ability to dictate range was eye-opening. Prograis placed Flanagan on the canvas — the Brit’s first career knockdown — with a well-placed right hand in Round 8.
That Prograis won going away is no surprise. He’s the more talented fighter and was a heavy favorite to advance to the semifinals. What was revealing: the way Prograis dissected an experienced foe who held a title at 135 pounds.
“It doesn’t matter who the hell I fight, I’m going to win the whole thing,” Prograis said. “The Ali trophy is mine.”
The Houston resident employed lots of head movement and twisted his upper body to give Flanagan different looks. Prograis’ head never sat on the center line; it’s clear his defense is improving.
With his one glaring flaw seemingly shored up, Prograis is an even scarier proposition for the rest of the 140-field. As the No. 1 seed in the tourney, Prograis will now meet No. 3 Kiryl Relikh in the second round. It will be Prograis’ first crack at a title (Relikh holds the WBA belt) and he doesn’t plan to stop there.
“(Terence Crawford) took all the belts at 140. He cleaned up 140 and I want to do the same thing,” Prograis said. “That’s a big step.”
If all goes according to plan, it will be Josh Taylor, the No. 2 seed from Scotland, standing across from Prograis in the final when the dust settles. Taylor is a decided favorite to beat Ryan Martin on Saturday in his own quarterfinal matchup, with the winner set to face Ivan Baranchyk in the semis.
Prograis knows winning the tournament will build his name recognition tenfold, but he has far bigger aspirations. And why not? The way he boxed Saturday, there’s no reason to believe he can’t hang with any of the sport’s elite.
Anybody around that weight, it cna be at 147, it can be somebody coming up, it can even be a Pacuqia fight, you never know.
“The good thing in boxing right now, it goes up and down, but right now it’s going up,” Prograis told The Ring. “There’s a lot of big fighters, even around my weight division, it’s a whole lot of big, big names. From 130 all the way to 154, it’s a lot of big money fights. It might be Crawford.
“We always go back and forth and talk shit to each other. It might be me and Mikey Garcia, Errol Spence. I’m in the perfect category because everybody is right there with 20 pounds of each other.”
Prograis said it would be a “dream come true to fight one of my idols” in Manny Pacquiao. So while he’s targeting a marquee matchup at welterweight following the tourney’s conclusion, he’s also not counting out a unification fight or two at 140.
There remains unfinished business with Jose Ramirez, who himself looked much improved during a September victory over Antonio Orozco. The WBC titleholder is now working with Robert Garcia, and after plenty of trash talk with Prograis, the fight is a natural if both guys keep winning.
Prograis already owns the looks and charisma to be a cross-over star in this sport. Now that his in-ring game is reaching new heights, two more tournament wins and he’ll be well on his way to the kind of matchups he so badly craves.
Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger