By Peter Lim

On the eve of his 23rd professional fight, streaking junior welterweight Regis Prograis (22-0, 19 KOs) finds himself smack in the middle of two major phenomena taking the boxing industry by storm on a global level – DAZN and the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS).

Prograis (22-0, 19 KOs) faces recently-dethroned world titleholder Terry Flannagan (33-1, 13 KOS) at the Lakeside Arena in New Orleans on Oct. 27.  The fight will be a quarterfinal bout in the WBSS’s 140-pound tournament in which two of the four major world titles are at stake. It will be broadcast live on DAZN.

DAZN made its debut earlier this month just as HBO announced it will detach itself from boxing programming at the end of 2018 (coincidence?). The budding combat sports channel must’ve been doing something right behind the scenes since it reportedly signed Saul “Canelo” Alvarez to a $365 million contract.

While DAZN might still be in its infancy, the WBSS is in the toddler stage of its existence, having successfully culminated tournaments at cruiserweight (that crowned Oleksandr Usyk the unified and undisputed 200-pound champion) and super middleweight. Besides the 140-pound division, the WBSS also has a bantamweight and rebooted cruiserweight tournament in progress.

“I think these might be the new wave of boxing,” Prograis said. “It’s big.”

Prograis earned a shot at WBC titleholder Jose Ramirez when he stopped Julius Indongo in the second round in in March. But the fight never came to fruition as mandated by the WBC so Prograis decided to enter the WBSS tournament where the IBF and WBA titles are at stake.

The WBSS has incorporated rather than replaced the various world title belts, keeping the notoriously corrupt and self-serving alphabet organizations honest in the process. Based on a bracket system, the tournament ensures no promises are broken and renders null the ambiguity, absurdity and meaninglessness of such terms as ‘interim champ’ and ‘mandatory challenger.’

“With this WBSS tournament it’s some of the best people in the world fighting each other,” Prograis said. “In boxing you know there’s a lot of loopholes and things you can do to get out of certain things. In the WBSS you can’t get around nothing. You fight, you win, you move on. You fight, you lose, you’re out of the tournament. I love how everything is set up.”

“Of course, nobody wants to take a loss but if you do, you get paid a whole lot of money, way more than you get paid outside the tournament. I love it. It’s excellent for boxing.”

In addition, the emphasis is on the W in the WBSS which takes a truly globalized approach to competition in contrast to the alphabet organizations that tend to favor fighters of specific nationalities. The WBSS 140-pound tournament, for example, features boxers from the United States, Russia, Belarus, England, Scotland and Switzerland.

As for DAZN, Prograis said it is the fight network of the future.

“I really do think so and I’m not just saying that,” Prograis said. “That’s what’s going to start happening. They just stuck Canelo with a big old fat check of $365 million and they’re going to keep recruiting other fighters. A lot of people are going to start tuning in to that especially if they start putting on good, exciting fights. I think it’s going to be the new wave.”

Prograis, 29, will face Flannagan, 29, for his second consecutive fight in his hometown of New Orleans. In July, he dropped Juan Jose Velasco three times with body shots en route to an eighth-round stoppage in the city where he grew up but was uprooted from by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“I was going up and down with him and the body was there,” Prograis said. “It was open. I’d hit him to the body and he’d make some noise like “umf” so I knew he was weak to the body and I like going to the body anyway. I hurt my left hand a little bit so I didn’t want to hit him in the head so much.”

Despite sealing the victory, Prograis concedes he didn’t perform to his optimum against Velasco and was hit more often than he would have liked. Fighting at home for the first time, he was distracted by friends, family and food. He allowed virtually everyone access to his dressing room prior to the fight which he said, in hindsight, was a mistake.

“I got a little bit nervous fighting at home,” Prograis said. “I did some things that I wasn’t supposed to do. I ate a poboy (a New Orleans sandwich) and some gumbo the night before the fight real late, like one or two o’clock in the morning.”

“I just couldn’t focus like I was as a boxer. I just didn’t perform the way I should have performed. The dude was a good, tough, undefeated fighter but someone like that shouldn’t have hit me that much. I looked at my face after the fight, I had all kinds of stuff on my face. I shouldn’t get touched up like that. I should have played way, way more defense.”

Prograis vowed to be more professional and not to repeat the same gaffes against Flannagan.

“I learned. I know Terry Flanagan is two steps above this dude,” Prograis said. “It was just things in my mind. It’s just about what I need to do – be sharp, be focused that night, don’t worry about the crowd and just do what I’ve got to do.”

The winner of Prograis-Flannagan advances to the semi-finals against Kyril Relikh for the WBA title. Relikh advanced by defeating Eduard Troyanovsky via decision earlier this month.