His jacket sporting the United Kingdom’s historic Union Jack was a clear indication that Regis Prograis came in peace of his forthcoming World Boxing Super Series 140-pound finals versus Scotland’s Josh Taylor
It didn’t take long, however, to put the unbeaten super lightweight on the defensive, having little at all to do with his upcoming opponent.
A preceding rant by heavyweight Dereck Chisora dissatisfied over his place as the evening’s chief support for his clash with former titlist Joseph Parker added an unexpected twist to Monday’s press conference to formally announce the full bill. The show takes place Oct. 26 at London’s O2 Arena, marking just the second career fight in England for Taylor (15-0, 12KOs) and the first trip abroad for New Orleans (La.)-bred Prograis, whose two main goals remain to emerge victorious and to establish a new fan base.
“I’m glad to come here, I’m glad to be here. Dude (Chisora) kind of got in my head because he wanna be in the main event,” admitted Prograis (24-0, 20KOs) who engaged in a brief verbal spat with the bitter heavyweight before just allowing the sequence to play out. “But, I’m excited. This has heen a dream to come to London, some of the best fans in the world. There’s no animosity towards anyone. It’s just a chance that most fighters don’t get in a lifetime.
“You got four things on the line, you got the WBA, my title, his title—the IBF—you got the Ali Trophy and the Ring Magazine belt, all that is on the line. I had a late start in boxing. Guys who fighting 20, 30 years never get that opportunity. For me to get that opportunity and to do it in London and at O2, I’m just ecstatic.”
Prograis entered the tournament as the number-one seed, validating that status with one-sided wins over former lightweight titlist Terry Flanagan and exiting beltholder Kiryl Relikh. The latter win came this past April, with Prograis dismantling Relikh in six rounds to claim his first major title.
The win came three weeks prior to Taylor—a member of the 2012 Great Britain Olympic boxing team—outpointing previously unbeaten Ivan Baranchyk to win the IBF title this past May in Glasgow, Scotland.
Both remain confident of prevailing in the finals and claiming the tournament’s Ali Trophy, named after the late, great former three-time heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali.
When asked for a prediction on whether he’d deliver a knockout, Prograis—often referred to by renowned publicist Bernie Bahrmasel as ‘The Modern Day (Roberto) Duran’—made it clear he’s here to emulate rather than imitate the sport’s all-time greats.
“I know we fighting for the Ali Trophy but I’m not Muhammad Ali,” noted Prograis, content with his simple belief of emerging victorious. “I can’t say what round or anything like that. I’ll just go out there, do my thing and have fun. That’s what we gonna do.
“As far as I’m gonna hurt him, stop him, we just gonna see. So far I’ve dominated everyone I’ve faced.”
The bout headlines a loaded card (assuming Chisora-Parker remains intact), which will air live on Sky Sports Box Office in the U.K. and stream live on DAZN in the United States.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox