Regis Prograis has heard all the excuses, but he’s ready to reclaim a world title and prove his greatness

Former world champion Regis Prograis shadows boxing at an open practice ahead of his WBC super lightweight title fight Saturday against Jose Zepeda in Carson, Calif.  (Tom Hogan/Hoganphotos)

Former world champion Regis Prograis shadows boxing at an open practice ahead of his WBC super lightweight title fight Saturday against Jose Zepeda in Carson, Calif. (Tom Hogan/Hoganphotos)

Regis Prograis has long been one of boxing’s most exciting fighters. He’s a knockout puncher who isn’t afraid to test his own chin to get in and try to impose his will on his opponent.

He’s also one of boxing’s good guys, an easy-to-like personality who’s well-read, well-travelled, and eager to chat about almost any subject. This is the kind of guy that boxing needs more of, but he’s one of a kind.

Somehow it’s been 37 months since Prograis last fought for a world title. He lost a majority decision to Josh Taylor in London on October 26, 2019 in a battle for three of the four 140lb titles.

He’s had three tuneup fights since then and only fights Jose Zepeda for the vacant WBC super lightweight belt on Saturday due to rare luck. The WBC ordered Jose Ramirez and Prograis to fight for the title, but Ramirez was forced to withdraw because he got married in October and wouldn’t exercise properly.

Taylor who went on to win the undisputed title after defeating Prograis, he was also offered a fight against Prograis in the fourth quarter of that year, but he also got married. Instead, Prograis will face Zepeda in the main event of a pay-per-view card available on Fite TV and PPV.com at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.

“Guys out here signing pre-nups to not fight me,” Prograis said.

The hardest thing to understand in all of this is why it took Prograis 37 months to get another title shot. He’s clearly one of the best in the division and has been for a long time. He’s 27-1 with 23 knockouts and is one of the most fan-friendly fighters in the biz.

Also a fan-friendly fighter, Zepeda’s fifth-round KO against Ivan Baranchyk on October 3, 2020 at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas is a classic. Both men were down four times in the five rounds, and Baranchyk exited the ring on a stretcher.

Prograis respects Zepeda, but he’s also confident he can box. He’s considered a power puncher due to his 82% knockout rate, but he’s also an outstanding boxer. He comes to silly punch his opponent when possible, but has the ability to box and move when necessary.

Zepeda is an excellent counterattack, but Prograis thinks this will play into his hands.

“Zepeda can’t let me hit too much in this fight when he’s trying to set traps,” Prograis said. “If I can find him, I don’t think it will be good for him. I don’t fight to box. I fight to hurt people. In my last three fights I haven’t been hit and I’ve gotten knockouts in all three.

“It’s what I really, really love [to do]battle. [I really] I love the world title and the money, but I really love getting in the ring on fight night.”

The division is packed with elite talent beyond Prograis and Zepeda. Taylor won the undisputed championship but gave up two of them. Ramirez is a former champion and former undisputed lightweight champion. Teofimo Lopez is now struggling at 140lbs. Jack Catterall, who many believe deserved the win over Taylor when they fought in February, is still in the division.

Undisputed lightweight champion Devin Haney doesn’t have much time left in his division and is likely to rise to 140 not long after his defense of his belt against Vasiliy Lomachenko next year. Ryan Garcia and Gervonta Davis will be fighting at 136 pounds in April 2023, so they’ve also become super lightweights. All of this means that there are many options for a single-title fighter.

So if Prograis can win on Saturday and come out with a belt, it will put him in a position to take on some of these big names. Prograis is a competitor who has done extensive research into boxing history and understands what it means to a fighter’s legacy to face the best.

He thinks he beat Taylor three years ago, but this is his second opportunity to prove he’s the best in his class.

“When people introduce me, they do it as ‘the past champion,’ but I want to be the current champion, and not only that, I want to be known as the best in the world in my division,” Prograis said. That’s even more important to me than being a champion, it’s being the world’s best in my division. There will always be debates, but after Saturday my name will be at the top of the list. You have other fighters which is good but I think after Saturday my name should be at the top of the 140lb list.”

Regis Prograis answers questions after a practice session ahead of his fight against Jose Zepeda for the vacant WBC super lightweight title Saturday in Carson, Calif.  (Tom Hogan/Hoganphotos)

Regis Prograis answers questions after a practice session ahead of his fight against Jose Zepeda for the vacant WBC super lightweight title Saturday in Carson, Calif. (Tom Hogan/Hoganphotos)

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