Josh Taylor remains unbeaten and was boxing’s fully unified 140-pound champion before he gave up three of his four world titles.
Three years after Taylor edged Regis Prograis in their title unification fight, though, Prograis feels he has surpassed the Scottish southpaw as the best fighter in their division. Whereas Prograis is certain he has improved since their closely contested 12-rounder, the powerful southpaw contended late Saturday night that Taylor hasn’t gotten better.
Prograis hopes he gets the opportunity to prove his superiority in a rematch, but the New Orleans native believes he gained some momentum in demonstrating his point by becoming the first opponent to knock out Jose Zepeda. Prograis (28-1, 24 KOs) defeated Zepeda by 11th-round knockout Saturday night at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California to win the WBC super lightweight title Taylor relinquished earlier this year.
“Listen, I want my get-back more than anything,” Prograis stated during his post-fight press conference. “But I feel like right now I feel like I’m the man in the division. So, I do wanna fight him again. But I do feel like I’m better than him. But we’ll see. We’ll see what happens. I been feeling that. You know, this, I told you, this is not a surprise. I been feeling like I’m the best at 140. I been feeling like that.”
The 33-year-old Prograis is 4-0, including four knockouts, since Taylor edged him by majority decision in the final of the World Boxing Super Series’ 140-pound tournament in October 2020 at O2 Arena in London. Zepeda (36-3, 28 KOs, 2 NC), a strong southpaw from La Puente, California, is the best of the four foes Prograis has knocked out since his close loss to Taylor.
The 31-year-old Taylor (19-0, 13 KOs) is scheduled to box British southpaw Jack Catterall (26-1, 13 KOs) in a 12-round rematch February 4 at OVO Hydro in Glasgow. Catterall dropped Taylor and gave the long-reigning champion perhaps the most difficult fight of his career last February 26 at OVO Hydro, but Taylor won a controversial split decision.
Sooner than later, Prograis probably will have to face the former WBC/WBO champion Taylor beat, Jose Ramirez, to become boxing’s second undisputed 140-pound champion of the four-belt era in May 2021. Ramirez (27-1, 17 KOs), of Avenal, California, is the first of two mandatory challengers for Prograis’ championship and unless Prograis secures a title unification fight, he might have to meet Ramirez next.
However his schedule develops in 2023, Prograis is ecstatic to be a champion for the second time in his 10-year pro career.
“You know, it’s sad in boxing to where it’s like you take a loss,” Prograis explained, “and I still feel like I won the fight, but you take a loss and people just, they sweep you under the rug. You know, it’s like I had to climb my way out of hell, out of boxing hell, and, you know, I’m back here. But for me, it’s not a surprise. I told you it’s not a surprise. I worked my ass off every single day for three years to get back [to] this. … If the [Taylor rematch] present itself, then yeah, and I’ll definitely beat him for sure.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.