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The Avila Perspective Chap. 19: Regis Prograis, Middleweights and More

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  • The Avila Perspective Chap. 19: Regis Prograis, Middleweights and More

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    By David A. Avila

    Unique best describes the city of New Orleans.

    No other place in the USA resembles the city influenced by French, Spanish and Southern culture blanketed by Catholicism and its Mardi Gras ways.

    Out of this exotic old world mixture comes Regis Prograis (pictured), a prizefighter much like his native city has been influenced by the surroundings and episodic moments in life that could be the subject of a motion picture.

    Maybe that’s why a group based in Hollywood backs the New Orleans prizefighter.

    Prograis (22-0, 19 KOs) steps back into the prize ring and faces England’s Terry Flanagan (33-1, 13 KOs) in the first stage of the World Boxing Super Series tournament in the super lightweight division on Saturday Oct. 27, at Lakefront Arena in New Orleans. It will be streamed via www.Dazn.com.

    Fighting out of Manchester, England, former lightweight world champion Flanagan moves up one weight division to test the pride of “N’awlins” as the natives pronounce it, according to my wife whose family still live in the “Big Easy.” If you follow boxing you know the Brits love boxing more than anything but soccer.

    Flanagan, 29, lost his title to Maurice Hooker by split decision in Manchester last June. It left a bitter taste that not even the best gumbo could erase. He’s out to prove it was fluky and not an example of his talent. He has wins over B+ fighters and has never been stopped. Can his chin withstand the hurricane forces incoming from Prograis?

    Speaking of hurricanes, Prograis remembers well his experience with Hurricane Katrina back in 2005. It was because of that horrific storm that he found himself transplanted to Houston, Texas where he learned the art of boxing.

    But first there was football and if you know anything about Texas or Louisiana, then you also comprehend how important football is in the south. Prograis loves football because of the physical impact.

    “I love to hit people,” says Prograis with this sincere gleam in his eye. “That’s one of my favorite things in football.”

    Boxing was an exercise used by one of his former football squads and it’s where he was told that he packed a punch like a mini-Howitzer.

    “All the football players would put on the gloves and we would fight,” said Prograis of his first excursion into boxing. “The coach said you should box. You hit hard.”

    Soon he ventured into boxing and has found that his fists fit perfectly into the sport like one of those tailor-made boxing gloves he wears. The instinct to hit pads against pads soon transitioned into hitting another person’s face with his fists.

    “I just like to fight. When I fight someone and get hit, I’m like, you can’t hurt me and I’m going to hit you back too and harder,” said Prograis while in Las Vegas recently.

    Managed by film director Peter Berg and actor Mark Wahlberg, the New Orleans-born prizefighter gets slightly revved up whenever discussing the Mississippi River city known for the Essence Festival, jazz and the Super Dome.

    “I’ve been saying for a long time to people in boxing to take boxing to New Orleans,” said Prograis almost breathless.

    The interim WBC super lightweight titlist has his eyes on the actual WBC title now held by Northern California’s Jose Carlos Ramirez. But winning the WBSS could lead to the inevitable encounter foreseen by many.

    “Jose (Carlos Ramirez) beat (Antonio) Orozco which was a hell of a fight,” said Prograis who watches fights religiously. “If I beat Terry Flanagan I’ll be looked upon more favorably.”

    Talking about the pending WBSS tournament raises the pitch in his voice as if slipping a race car into a higher gear.

    “My whole goal is to be the legitimate champ at 140 pounds,” Prograis says imagining the moment in his head. “Right now boxing is going up. There are a lot of peaks and valleys, but right now it’s going up and I’m in a perfect division.”

    New Orleans has a new champion and Regis Prograis is his name.

    Tokyo Drift to Las Vegas

    A large number of fans from Japan flew over to Las Vegas to see Ryota Murata defend the WBA middleweight title against barely known Rob Brant last Saturday. It was supposed to be a coming out party for a proposed super match between Murata and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin.

    Golovkin’s promoter Tom Loeffler was present at the MGM Park Theater where more than 2,700 fans packed the arena expecting to see their hero in all his splendor. Instead a plucky middleweight who trains in Las Vegas darted in and out firing quick combinations with sporadic power shots to steal the night away.

    Every round went by with fans expecting the knockout blow that never came. Though the heavier power shots were landed by Murata the seemingly smaller Brant did land a boat load of punches throughout the 12 round title fight.

    When the decision was announced a large collective gasp went through the crowd. Immediately after, the crowd slipped out quicker than Dodger fans hoping to avoid the crush of traffic.

    In the dressing room Murata gave no excuses.

    Instead of Murata versus Golovkin, it looks like Brant gets the invitation to a gunfight.

    HBO: The Last Detail

    New York City plays host to one of the final shows of the HBO Boxing era when Daniel Jacobs (34-2, 29 KOs) meets Sergiy Derevyanchenko (12-0, 10 KOs) for the vacant IBF middleweight title at Madison Square Garden. HBO will televise this Saturday.

    It’s the “Miracle Man” versus “the Technician” in a middleweight scrap that is co-promoted by DiBella Entertainment who also promotes Prograis who is competing on the same day in New Orleans 1,100 miles away.

    DiBella once worked for HBO.

    “I have six fighters fighting in world title fights,” said DiBella adding that aside from Prograis and Derevyanchenko he also promotes Yuandale Evans who is fighting for the WBA super featherweight title against champion Alberto Machado, Ivan Baranchyk competing too, along with Heather Hardy and Shelly Vincent fighting for the vacant WBO featherweight world title.

    DiBella hopes to attend the press conference in New Orleans before returning to the New York City card.

    “Four world champions in one night,” DiBella said.

    He expects Prograis-Flanagan in New Orleans to be high octane.

    “It will be a terrific fight as long as it lasts. Regis has a terrific offense. I expect a real entertaining fight as long as it goes,” said DiBella. “Flanagan’s only loss was to Maurice Hooker. I think it will be an exciting fight but I believe Regis will prevail.”

    Two other fights taking place in Manhattan are anyone’s guess on who wins.

    The female clash between Hardy and Vincent is a rematch of their classic of two years ago. This time it will be on HBO. It’s only the second time a female boxing match is televised on HBO and the last.

    “I think if Heather and Shelly fought 10 times they would have a war 10 times,” said DiBella.

    In the main event, Jacobs and Derevyanchenko is equally a toss-up encounter.

    “They probably sparred 100 rounds with each other,” said DiBella of the two middleweights competing for the vacant world title. “It’s a true 50/50 fight. And I love Jacobs, you saw how close he fought Gennady Golovkin. That can be a very tough fight for Danny Jacobs. No one wants to fight Derevyanchenko.”

    It looks to be another middleweight classic.

    Photo credit: Al Applerose
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