Tis’ the season for unification.
In a one-month span, a handful of divisions in the sport will have coronated unified champions to join an elite pack of pugilists.
On Sept. 28, Errol Spence Jr. unified the welterweight division by beating Shawn Porter, and he now holds the WBC and IBF titles. On Oct. 18, Artur Beterbiev knocked out Oleksandr Gvozdyk and now sports the WBC and IBF light heavyweight titles.
On Oct. 26, Regis Prograis, the WBA super lightweight champion, will take on Josh Taylor, the 140-pound IBF champion in a unification fight that will also award the World Boxing Super Series Ali Trophy and the vacant 140-pound Ring Magazine title to the winner.
Prograis (24-0, 20 KOs) believes he’s the better boxer than Taylor (15-0, 12 KOs) and will inch one step closer in his quest to unifying the division and face WBC and WBO champion Jose Ramirez in 2020.
“Look at my resume. I haven’t had a close fight,” Prograis told BoxingScene.com. “I’ve fought undefeated fighters, former world champions, world champions. If you look at me, I’ve never even been tested yet. I’ve barely even lost a round. That’s why I feel that I’m a lot better than Taylor.”
Prograis has been planning his first foray overseas with precision over the last two months. The fight will take place at the O2 Arena in London and stream on DAZN.
To prepare for his United Kingdom debut, Prograis divided his eight-week camp into a three-part stop. The first three weeks he trained at the Churchill Boxing Gym in Santa Monica, Calif. Then, he spent two weeks training at his home in Houston, and he’s spent the last three weeks in London. He even took a break from camp to catch a Tottenham Hotspur F.C. game and further build his fan base in the market a week before the fight.
“People can say he’s fought better opponents than I did, but that’s speculation, argument and just barbershop talk, basically,” said Prograis. “I feel that I’ve fought better competition. Performance wise, I do something different every fight. You’ll never see the same thing.”
The winner of Prograis-Taylor will join Andy Ruiz, Julian Williams, Vasiliy Lomachenko, Daniel Roman, Naoya Inoue as well as Spence, Beterbiev and Ramirez as the only unified champions of the sport.
Prograis is pushing to fight Ramirez, and accomplish a feat Oleksandr Usyk did in 2018 at cruiserweight by claiming all four major sanctioning body titles at once.
“For me, it’s not about winning. It’s about dominating. Taylor is not as dominant as me. That’s why I say I’m the better fighter,” said Prograis. “We’ll see who it really is on Oct. 26.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist and member of the Boxing Writers Assn. of America since 2011. He has written for the likes of the Guardian, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Men’s Health and NFL.com and currently does TV commentary for combat sports programming that airs on Fox Sports. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.