By Peter Lim
Undefeated junior welterweights Regis Prograis (19-0, 16 KOs) and Joel Diaz (23-0, 19 KOs) face off in Showtime’s latest installment of ShoBox: The Next Generation. Arguably the most competitive platform in the sport, ShoBox has traditionally pit promising young prospects against each other, with its emphasis on showcasing great fights instead of great fighters per se.
That doesn’t mean ShoBox has not produced great fighters. Quite the contrary; virtually every world titleholder who has fought in the United States has been on ShoBox at various points in their careers. But on the flip side, a whopping 163 fighters have lost their undefeated records on the series.
It couldn’t get any better or more high stakes than this. If this were baseball, Prograis-Diaz would be analogous to a minor league world series. The winner gets promoted to the major league while the loser remains behind in the minors. Both are young, talented, exciting and have fought multiple times on ShoBox. And both sit smack on the ill-defined fence that separates the prospects from the contenders.
Said ShoBox executive producer Gordon Hall: “In the case of Regis and Joel, it means the winner legitimizes themselves as a top-ten contender. At this point in their careers, they have had their developmental fights. They have both had multiple appearances on ShoBox in step-up fights. Now both are facing their toughest test to date against each other with the winner positioning himself for a title shot in the near future.”
“That’s why I’m taking it. I want bigger fights,” Prograis said. “I’ve been running through everybody. In my last eight fights, I’ve knocked everyone out except Amos Cowart, and they were solid opponents. Now I want to step up. He’s a big puncher, supposedly. He’s tough and undefeated. It really motivates me to train. It’s definitely a big risk for me, but after this fight something big should be coming up.”
The high stakes are not lost on Diaz either.
“I’m going to show the world who the real Joel Diaz is. I’m now at the right weight for me and I’m 110 percent. I didn’t waste four weeks of training camp trying to lose weight. I feel strong,” Diaz said.
“A world championship after this fight, that’s what I want. This is my opportunity to actually show who I am and I can’t let it go. If I let this go, I might as well go back to school. This is going to open all the doors for me.”
Prograis-Diaz, the main event of a ShoBox tripleheader, coincides with the International Boxing Hall of Fame's 2017 induction ceremony. The fight takes place in Verona, NY, while the Hall-of-Fame festivities will be held 12 miles west in Canastota.