SAN FRANCISCO – Regis Prograis won’t just fight Saturday night to retain his WBC super lightweight title.
The two-time 140-pound champion views his pay-per-view showdown with undefeated Devin Haney as his opportunity to gain the type of respect that has eluded the New Orleans native thus far. The 34-year-old Prograis has made seven-figure purses for several bouts since he became a championship-caliber fighter, headlined in his hometown and has lost only a 12-round majority decision to eventual undisputed champion Josh Taylor.
Prograis still feels, though, that he isn’t as highly regarded by fans and media as his abilities and accomplishments warrant. From Prograis’ perspective, upsetting the favored Haney (30-0, 15 KOs) in their DAZN Pay-Per-View main event at Chase Center will enhance his legacy and change the boxing public’s perception of him.
“It would put me where I wanna be,” Prograis told BoxingScene.com. “I shoulda had this type of fight a long time ago, like a breakout fight. I haven’t gotten the respect I really deserve. You know, became a champion and it was cool. I became a two-time champion against [Jose] Zepeda, and that was a real good fight that should’ve been big. It wasn’t a big fight, but this is a big fight not just to boxing fans, but the general public.
“I think [beating Haney] would put me where I wanna be – pound-for-pound for sure, definitely the best at 140 and top five pound-for-pound after this fight. That’s where I wanna be. That motivates me, being pound-for-pound. Of course, being number one at 140 is important. But being pound-for-pound, that’s a driving force for me right now.”
The 24-year-old Haney, who gave up his IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO lightweight titles last week, is ranked seventh on the pound-for-pound lists of BoxingScene.com, ESPN.com and The Ring magazine. Prograis (29-1, 24 KOs) is not ranked in the top 10 by any of those three outlets.
The younger Haney, of Henderson, Nevada, is considered a better technician than Prograis, whose power and tenacity are two of his best attributes. Prograis, of Katy, Texas, didn’t take up boxing until he was 17, the age Haney was when he made his pro debut in December 2015, and utilizes an unconventional style.
Prograis is determined to prove, however, that he is more than a brawler against an opponent who has taunted him for being a limited fighter throughout this promotion.
From a commercial standpoint, this is Prograis’ biggest fight on American soil.
The powerful Prograis’ 11th-round knockout of Zepeda headlined a pay-per-view show last November 26 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. That event was produced independently, though, and placed on pay-per-view out of necessity because the promoter of record, Marv Nation, didn’t have a deal with a network or streaming service in the United States.
Prograis’ optional title defense versus Haney is the second bout of his three-fight deal with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing. Haney – who has worked with Matchroom, Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc. and DiBella Entertainment in recent years – is not locked into a multi-bout promotional deal.
Their fight is the main event of a four-fight DAZN Pay-Per-View show. That portion of the card is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and will cost DAZN subscribers $59.99, $15 less than non-subscribers ($74.99).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.