By Keith Idec
Regis Progais picked Terry Flanagan as his opponent Friday for the World Boxing Super Series’ 140-pound tournament.
The top-seeded Prograis picked the unseeded Flanagan as part of the WBSS “Draft Gala” at Rossiya Theatre in Moscow. Once Prograis chose Flanagan, second-seeded Josh Taylor (13-0, 11 KOs) was left to select unseeded Ryan Martin (22-0, 12 KOs) as the Scottish southpaw’s opponent in the quarterfinals because the remaining two quarterfinals were predetermined.
The dates and venues for the WBSS 140-pound tournament haven’t been announced.
Many fans and media expected Prograis to pick Cleveland’s Martin as his opponent, but he chose Flanagan, a fellow southpaw and former WBO lightweight champion.
“We’re fighting for the Ali trophy,” Prograis explained. “Ali is a legend and Ali fought the best of the best. You know, I wanna fight the best of the best. He’s a former world champion and, you know, that’s why I made this decision.”
Flanagan lost for the first time as a pro June 9, when Dallas’ Maurice Hooker (24-0-3, 16 KOs) beat him by split decision to win the then-vacant WBO junior welterweight title in Manchester, Flanagan’s hometown. Opposing Prograis, a powerful southpaw who won the WBC’s interim super lightweight title March 9, figures to be even more difficult for Flanagan.
“It don’t matter,” Flanagan said. “You’ve got to fight the best to win it. I’ve come to this tournament to win it and I’m confident in winning this fight.”
England’s Flanagan and Cleveland’s Martin were the last two fighters added to the 140-pound tournament this week.
Two of the WBSS 140-pound quarterfinals were determined before Friday because those fights were mandated by sanctioning organizations.
Belarus’ Kiryl Relikh (22-2, 19 KOs), the No. 3 seed, will make a mandatory defense of his WBA super lightweight title against Russia’s Eduard Troyanovsky (27-1, 24 KOs). Russia’s Ivan Baranchyk (18-0, 11 KOs), the No. 4 seed, and Sweden’s Anthony Yigit (21-0-1, 7 KOs) will fight for the IBF junior welterweight title Mikey Garcia gave up after winning it from Sergey Lipinets on March 10 in San Antonio.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.