By Jake Donovan
Regis Prograis could get his next fight in a ring instead of a courtroom, after all.
There still remains work in bridging the gap with World Boxing Super Series in resurrecting his tournament finals clash versus fellow unbeaten titlist Josh Taylor. However, multiple sources from all involved parties have informed BoxingScene.com that tremendous strides have been made in helping advance a mouthwatering matchup currently in limbo.
Should a new deal be reached, the unification clash and tournament finale is expected to take place on Oct. 26 in London, England, likely at the O2 Arena.
The Athletic's Mike Coppinger was the first to report the latest development in talks as well as the date, with BoxingScene.com being the first to report the potential venue.
Prograis (24-0, 20KOs) and promoter Lou DiBella dropped a bombshell one week ago in announcing the boxer’s decision to abandon the tournament and instead file a joint complaint versus tournament overseeing company Comosa AG. The heart of the complaint centered on alleged breach of contract regarding guaranteed funds placed in escrow along with advanced notice of a fight date ensuring both boxers a full training camp to prepare.
According to sources, the financial aspect of the dispute—not the dollar amount itself, but a guarantee that it is paid in full, along with the promised win bonus to whomever prevails–is still being worked out. The modified fight date does alleviate concerns of being shortchanged preparation time when also factoring in having to travel abroad.
The bout was initially rumored to take place Oct. 5 in Manchester, England, but remained in flux when deadlines were missed to have the funds placed in escrow. Back and forth between lawyers for DiBella Entertainment and Comosa AG only further complicated matters, with the final straw coming in the insistence of the fight instead taking place one week prior on Sept. 28, and still without physical proof of available funds.
Representatives for all involved parties declined comment to BoxingScene.com, as the matter remains unresolved and—therefore—an ongoing legal issue.
According to documents filed with with the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, Progais is guaranteed to earn $700,000 for his finals appearance. A win bonus of $1.3 million is up for grabs for whomever prevails in the anticipated pairing of unbeaten 140-pound titlists, both of whom enjoyed convincing wins in each of the first two rounds.
Prograis entered the WBSS tournament as the top-seeded super lightweight, proving his worth in a 12-round whitewash of former lightweight titlist Terry Flanagan last October in his New Orleans (La.) hometown. Six months later came his six-round beatdown of Kiryl Relikh to claim his first major title, although the April headliner in Lafayette, La. was preceded by disappointing post-quarterfinals drama.
Several tournament participants in the super lightweight and bantamweight brackets had to threaten legal action in order to receive full compensation for their quarterfinals appearance. Prograis was among them, although the matter was resolved in time to move forward to the semifinals, for which he was paid in full and on time.
Meanwhile, Scotland's Taylor (15-0, 12KOs) proved to the world his worth in the tournament, residing at number-two with a bullet following Glasgow-based wins over previously unbeaten Ryan Martin and exiting titlist Ivan Baranchyk. The 28-year old southpaw is the only participant spanning all three Season two weight divisions to be afforded a home region appearance for all tournament bouts, with the finals taking place in the United Kingdom.
Should all parties reach a deal in this latest round of talks, the tournament can move as planned with the revised date in place. Helping to level the playing field will be the assurance of neutral ring officials made available for the contest.
In the event of the finals taking place—which stands a much better chance than was the case one week ago—the winner will join unbeaten Jose Carlos Ramirez as a unified 140-pound champ, and the strong likelihood of a unification bout taking place in 2020.
For now, they still have to get this one signed and into the ring.
Of the three weight divisions, just one finals has been formally announced—the bantamweight finale between unbeaten pound-for-pound entrant Naoya Inoue and legendary four-division title claimant Nonito Donaire. Their 118-pound title unification clash takes place Nov. 7 in Saitama, Japan.
As previously reported by BoxingScene.com, the cruiserweight finals between Mairis Briedis and Yuniel Dorticos carries a tentatively scheduled date of Dec. 14 in Briedis’ hometown of Riga, Lativa. That bout has yet to be announced, however, as a deal to secure the date and venue has not yet been finalized.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox