SAN FRANCISCO – Regis Prograis knew Devin Haney was good.
It wasn’t until round by befuddling round unfolded Saturday night, though, that Prograis realized Haney is that good. The former undisputed lightweight champion’s elusiveness, hand speed, jab and ring IQ puzzled Prograis throughout their 12-round, 140-pound title fight and rendered the New Orleans native a former champion again.
The faster, rangier Haney unofficially limited Prograis to landing 38 total punches – a record low for 12-round championship matches tracked by CompuBox.
A respectful Prograis praised the new WBC super lightweight champion, whom Prograis promised to “f--- up” throughout the promotion of their DAZN Pay-Per-View main event at Chase Center.
“He’s definitely better than I thought he was, for sure,” Prograis stated during his post-fight press conference. “You know, he does have fast feet, good defense and, you know, he has sneaky power for sure. You know, he doesn’t have the concussive power to like just knock you out like that, but he does have sneaky power to where he can run you into it.”
Haney (31-0, 15 KOs) hit Prograis with a right hand that knocked him off balance in the third round and caused a knockdown because Prograis used his gloves to keep from falling all the way to the canvas. Prograis (29-2, 24 KOs), who was the proven puncher entering Haney’s debut at the junior welterweight limit of 140 pounds, never landed a shot that seemed to get Haney’s attention.
“Man, like I was just on the canvas and I was like, ‘What the [f---]? What happened?,’ ” Prograis recalled. “You know what I’m saying? I was just like on the canvas and stuff like that, but he doesn’t have the power to where it’ll hurt you. But it’s the quick power and I was like, ‘This dude, you know, he does have [some power].’ You have to watch out for that. You just can’t run in with him. You know, so, I think that’s when I realized it.”
Unlike some fighters, Prograis didn’t offer any excuses for failing to make their fight competitive. The two-time 140-pound champion instead intends to focus on improving his skill level, particularly his footwork, when he returns to the gym in 2024.
As much as this lopsided loss hurts, the 34-year-old Prograis hopes to earn a shot at becoming a three-time champion in his weight class before he calls it a career and tries mixed martial arts.
“I told everybody,” Prograis said, “all my people in the dressing room – they crying and I’m like, ‘Bro, pick your head up.’ You know what I’m saying? It’s a fight. You gonna win, you gonna lose at the end of the day. And I’m not gonna lie, for this fight I trained my ass off. I trained for four months and it just wasn’t good enough. And that’s, sometimes that’s what’s gonna happen in life. You can train, you can do everything, but it might just not be good enough.
“But you know what Imma do? I’m gonna go back to the drawing board and Imma get better. That’s what I do. I go back and I get better and better. And, you know, Imma look at the film and see what I have to improve on. And that’s what Imma go do, and just come back strong and come back and get better.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.