Regis Prograis loves to review. When he first began boxing, finally turning professional late by trendy requirements at 23, he concluded that a method he may get a leg up on the competitors was to learn voraciously, like one in every of his early idols Mike Tyson did. A number of years again, Prograis mentioned he had over 300 books in his home, and had learn all of them. Some have been about boxing, studying extra about his favourite fighters like Henry Armstrong, Joe Gans, Marvin Hagler and Sugar Ray Leonard. Others have been about finance, or civil rights leaders, just like the Malcolm X biography he learn on the flight from Los Angeles to Dubai earlier than he knocked out Tyrone McKenna earlier this yr.
Previous to his WBC tremendous light-weight title bout towards Jose Zepeda on Saturday, Prograis mentioned that it felt as if he had been making ready for the struggle for 3 years. In 2019, Prograis misplaced his world title in a unification bout towards Josh Taylor within the finals of the World Boxing Tremendous Sequence, and since then, he mentioned it felt like he was “crawling out of a pit.” He studied his potential competitors, those that may be in the best way on his path to turning into champ once more. So by the point it was introduced that Zepeda could be his opponent with a vacant title on the road, he was very positive that he was “on a unique degree” than Zepeda.
As sure as he was, Prograis can by no means be too ready or too knowledgeable. The second it was clear he was in line for the Zepeda struggle, he began camp particularly for him, after beforehand pondering he could be going through Viktor Postol late this yr. In essence, he had a six month coaching camp, guaranteeing peak readiness strategically, but additionally avoiding the pesky weight points that had plagued him previously. Prograis’ old fashioned method to weight reducing wanted some updating as properly, and after a mock weight reduce and the hiring of a nutritionist, even his mom’s gumbo which he received to get pleasure from throughout his first weeks of camp in New Orleans, couldn’t throw him off-track.
“Nothing higher than having my child boy again at residence,” Prograis’ mom Sherita instructed Ted Lewis of Nola.com. “That is the longest he’s been right here that I can keep in mind. I’m not nervous about him getting too fats although. He is aware of what he must do.”
Prograis certainly knew every little thing he needed to do towards Zepeda, popping out in spherical one with the demeanor and posture of somebody who had totally ready for the examination. Eyes large, physique relaxed, slipping and sliding within the pocket previous Zepeda’s choices, stinging him many times with sharp leads and counters. As could be anticipated in a world title struggle, he after all didn’t swim with out getting moist. He needed to battle by way of a bloody nostril, and admitted that Zepeda was faster within the ring than he had been on movie.
However the fighters Prograis has shaped himself within the mildew of weren’t ones who prevented contact, a lot as they realized take in it, journey with it and use it to their benefit. His in-ring idols like Armstrong and Roberto Duran may very well be nice defenders, however their aggression welcomed a specific amount of punishment underneath the premise that they’d inflict extra.
Aesthetically, Prograis resembles a fighter from a bygone period within the ring. Like several martial artwork, or artwork for that matter, boxing has developed over time and the methods of yesteryear are carried over, tailored and constructed upon as generations have passed by. The older forged of up to date boxers typically cites Tyson, Roy Jones or Oscar De La Hoya as their entry level in boxing. Fighters youthful than them may cite Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao. These simply breaking into the professional ranks typically cite Canelo Alvarez. It’s not an accident that quite a lot of trendy boxing bares some resemblance in method to those large figures, as these fighters are the most typical reference level for the athletes. However like a musician who purposely faucets into a selected decade’s sound, or strips down their association to higher resemble a earlier period’s fashion, it’s clear that Prograis is influenced by a footage a lot older than the YouTube movies many up to date fighters have a tendency to review. Simply as you’ll be able to activate a Carly Rae Jepsen album and say “she’s been listening to 80s synth pop,” you’ll be able to activate a Prograis struggle and know instantly that he’s been deep into the Jim Jacobs movie archives.
In 2017, Sarah Deming wrote for StiffJab that “Prograis fights like he needs everybody within the room to have a good time besides (his opponent).” There’s a looseness and playfulness to his offense, as he breaks on the waist and makes use of higher physique motion to evade punches and create uncommon angles. Together with his lead hand down, he shuffles and glides across the ring, a model of quiet slippery footwork that characterised the sleek boxers of the Forties and 50s. To shut the present towards Zepeda, he put all of it collectively, gliding to his proper and goading a response out of Zepeda as he hit him with a drive-by left hand that despatched him into disarray. Prograis pounced on Zepeda instantly and practically despatched him by way of the ropes in a frenzied flurry that triggered referee Ray Corona to wave the struggle off.
As an avid reader like Prograis is aware of, a three-year odyssey deserves a dramatic ending.
Corey Erdman is a boxing author and commentator based mostly in Toronto, ON, Canada. Observe him on Twitter @corey_erdman