SAN DIEGO, Calif., October 29, 2018 – Halloween is on the horizon. What time could be better for the top seed in the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) super lightweight tournament to put a scare into his opponents? New Orleans native Regis Prograis (22-0, 19 KOs) intends to let loose his mythical werewolf namesake “Rougarou” in his quarterfinal contest against Terry Flanagan of the UK (33-1, 13 KOs). The interim WBC world super lightweight title is at stake in this opening quarterfinal.
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The colorful 29-year-old southpaw Prograis is a fighter perfectly suited to the modern era of boxing. He’s colorful and confident, hard working and media friendly. He has a backstory built to inspire anyone’s admiration. As a teenager, he fled his hometown after losing everything to Hurricane Katrina. Years later, he became a victim of Hurricane Harvey in Houston.
No matter to Prograis. He told Ringside Seat during an interview in Las Vegas recently, “There is no such thing as a bad thing, no such thing as a mistake. It’s a learning experience,” says Prograis. “No matter what I do, if it’s bad or good, I take it as a learning experience. Katrina was the perfect example. It made me more resilient.”
Prograis is now aiming at the Muhammad Ali Trophy, the prize for winning the WBSS. The tournament format suits his ambitious to get to the top. “I like the tournament format because it proves who is the best of the best. Ain’t no ducking around, that’s why I like the tournament. It’s like the amateurs, you win, and you move on. For me, it’s perfect.”
Muhammad Ali trophy important to Prograis
As the top seed in the tournament, Prograis had some say about his first-round opponent. He chose Flanagan. “I’m in a sport to be a competitor … Flanagan has the better resume, that’s why I wanted to fight him.
“It’s not even just the belts now, we’re fighting for the Muhammad Ali trophy. To have that, most champions today don’t even have that in their house. For me to have the Ali Trophy is very very important to me,” said Prograis.
Flanagan is coming off a surprise split decision loss to Maurice Hooker. “I’ve gone into this tournament, it’s no easy comeback fight. I’m testing myself against the best. Every fighter in this tournament a good fighter. I believe I’m up there in elite fighters. I’ve come out on top against each one of them,” said Flanagan.
Flanagan predicts an action-packed fight. “Regis is going to bring it from what I’ve been reading in the press … he’s going to put it on me. I’m expecting a good fight, I feel fit and mentally prepared, and physically prepared. I’m thinking I’m going to do it Saturday night.
“Let’s not forget I’ve been the world champion,” Flanagan pointed out, “I have had five defenses of the world title, I have got the experience, and I am here to win, take the title home and become a two-weight world champion.”
Prograis naturally sees it a little bit differently. “I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface yet. I have 22 fights and 19 knockouts, ranked number one in the world. But for me that’s nothing, I want so much more.” Prograis says the tournament will let him prove to the fans he is the undisputed best at 140 pounds.
The pair of southpaws should put on a good show. Momentum is meaningful in boxing. Prograis is hitting his stride, and fighting at home. After Flanagan’s poor performance against Hooker, it’s impossible to bet against the Rougarou.
European fighters battle for vacant title in quarterfinal
Also on the New Orleans card, Anthony Yigit of Sweden (21-0-1 7 KOs) faces Ivan Baranchyk of Belarus (18-0, 11 KOs) in another of the super lightweight quarterfinals, with the vacant IBF title given up by Mikey Garcia at stake. Yigit is fighting for the first time in the U.S. and the first time outside Europe. Baranchyk has been based in Miami, Oklahoma since 2014 and has built up a good following.
Baranchyk is considered the favorite. “I am the favorite in this fight,” said Miami-based ‘Beast’ Baranchyk. “I am young, hungry, I am the beast! This is a world title, it is a World Boxing Super Series quarter-final. I am ready to fight.”
Yigit had plenty to say about that. “To the experts believing Baranchyk will win the fight, those people don’t know sh*t about boxing,” declared Yigit this week..
“Look, let me tell you something. They don’t know about me because I am from Europe. Everyone here has seen him fight on the American shows, but I am here and I will shock everybody. It is going to be a war, don’t expect anything less, I am here to win, I am here to hunt the beast,” said Yigit.
The winner will face the winner of next Saturday’s quarterfinal between Josh Taylor and Rayn “Blue Chip” Martin.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is an award-winning boxing journalist covering the Sweet Science for Communities and for boxing fans worldwide. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News.
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