By Keith Idec
Regis Prograis doesn’t have a preference.
The strong southpaw is confident he’ll knock out Amir Imam or Jose Ramirez, assuming the winner of their 12-round, 140-pound title fight Saturday night faces him next. The WBC has mandated that the Imam-Ramirez winner must oppose Prograis, the WBC’s interim super lightweight champion, in his following fight.
Prograis will watch Imam-Ramirez from a ringside seat in The Theater at Madison Square Garden. The New Orleans native expects a very competitive bout between the top-rated Imam (21-1, 18 KOs), of Albany, New York, the third-ranked Ramirez (21-0, 16 KOs), of Avenal, California.
While Prograis wouldn’t be surprised if either fighter wins, he slightly favors Ramirez.
“I think it’s a 50-50 fight,” Prograis told BoxingScene.com. “I think I lean more towards Jose Ramirez because of the pressure, but it’s a 50-50 fight. Amir Imam has a big knockout punch. He has a big right hand. And he’s slick and he can move, things like that. I think it’s gonna be a good fight. I think it’s a 50-50 fight. But I’m leaning more towards Jose Ramirez. I think it’ll be Jose Ramirez.”
ESPN will broadcast the Imam-Ramirez match as the main event of a tripleheader set to start at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.
The WBC ordered Imam-Ramirez as part of a four-fighter, 140-pound tournament for the super lightweight title Terence Crawford relinquished when he opted to jump up to the welterweight division last year. The second-ranked Prograis (21-0, 18 KOs) demolished Julius Indongo (22-2, 11 KOs) in the first fight of that tournament Friday night, when Prograis dropped the former IBF/IBO/WBA champ from Namibia four times on his way to a second-round knockout in Deadwood, South Dakota.
ESPN’s three-bout broadcast Saturday night also will showcase unbeaten light heavyweight contender Oleksandr Gvozdyk and undefeated featherweight prospect Michael Conlan.
Ukraine’s Gvozdyk (14-0, 12 KOs) is scheduled to face France’s Mehdi Amar (34-5-2, 16 KOs) in a 12-round fight for the WBC’s interim 175-pound championship. Northern Ireland’s Conlan (5-0, 4 KOs) will box against Hungary’s David Berna (15-2, 14 KOs) in the first eight-rounder of Conlan’s one-year pro career.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.