By Keith Idec
Regis Progais passed what was supposed to be the toughest test of his career Friday night about as emphatically as he could.
The powerful southpaw dropped previously undefeated prospect Joel Diaz Jr. four times in the second round to win their scheduled 10-round bout by technical knockout in the main event of a “ShoBox: The New Generation” tripleheader at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York. The 28-year-old Prograis, a New Orleans native who resides in Houston, improved to 20-0, recorded his 17th knockout and defended his NABF super lightweight title.
The 25-year-old Diaz, of Palmdale, California, dropped to 23-1 (19 KOs).
Progais landed a straight left hand just 10 seconds into the second round and accidentally stepped on Diaz’s right foot to send him to the canvas for the first time. Another straight left hand floored Diaz again with 1:46 to go in the second round.
Diaz reached his feet again, but Prograis pounced on his vulnerable opponent and dropped Diaz a third time with another straight left hand to the chin only 19 seconds later. A determined Diaz got up yet again, but referee Mark Nelson stopped the fight following a fourth knockdown caused by Prograis’ compact left hook with eight seconds remaining in the second round.
Progais landed a combination just after the midway mark of the first round that moved Diaz backward, into the ropes. Prograis connected with a straight left hand later in the first hand that affected Diaz, but Diaz came back to land a hard right hand.
In the co-featured fight Friday night, Canadian middleweight prospect Steve Rolls remained undefeated, but his majority decision victory over Demond Nicholson in an eight-rounder appeared at least debatable.
Two judges, Glenn Feldman and Don Trella, scored the fight 77-74 for Rolls (16-0, 9 KOs). The third judge, Wynn Kintz, had it 77-75 for Nicholson (17-2-1, 16 KOs), who overcame a first-round knockdown to make the fight very competitive.
Toronto’s Rolls, 33, had difficulty dealing with Nicholson’s body work later in the fight. Rolls landed his fair share of power punches, though, especially to Nicholson’s head.
The 24-year-old Nicholson, of Laurel, Maryland, landed multiple left hooks during a very competitive seventh round that knocked Rolls off balance. The sixth round also featured several solid exchanges, though neither fighter appeared hurt in that round.
Nicholson hurt Rolls with a left hook to the body and a straight right to his jaw just after the midway mark of the fourth round. Rolls held temporarily to stabilize his legs and was able to finish that round without getting hurt again.
Rolls sent Nicholson to the canvas with a left hook to his temple late in the first round. Nicholson remained on one knee until referee Benjy Esteves’ count reached eight, but got up and avoided further damage during the final 10 seconds of the round.
In the opener of this “ShoBox” tripleheader, Spanish junior lightweight prospect Jon Fernandez knocked out Juan Reyes in the second round of a scheduled eight-round bout.
The 21-year-old Fernandez (13-0, 11 KOs), who’s promoted by former middleweight champion Sergio Martinez, began buzzing Reyes with right hands in the first round. His assault intensified during the second round, when he wobbled Reyes several times before connecting with a straight right hand to the side of Reyes’ head that sent Reyes flat on his back and forced referee Charlie Fitch to stop the fight at the 2:36 mark of the round.
The 27-year-old Reyes (14-4-3, 2 KOs), a native Mexican who resides in Bell Gardens, California, lost by knockout for the first time in his seven-year pro career.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.