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Regis Prograis KOs Jose Zepeda at Dignity Sports Health Park

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  • Regis Prograis KOs Jose Zepeda at Dignity Sports Health Park

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    By David A. Avila

    Not all big bangers are the same.

    Regis Prograis slugged it out with fellow knockout artist Jose “Chon” Zepeda and after 11 rounds of tactical battle ended the WBC super lightweight battle with a flourishing knockout on Saturday.

    Prograis (28-1, 24 KOs) becomes the first two-time super lightweight champion from New Orleans after his win over Zepeda (36-3, 27 KOs) at SoCal’s Dignity Health Sports Park. It had been more than three years since he last held a world title.

    “This was the hardest fight of my career,” said Prograis after the strategic clash between the super lightweight division’s biggest punchers.

    The heavily favored Prograis and Zepeda were cautious under the cold outdoor weather arena. Many a previous world title match ended quickly under similar circumstances and both were wary.

    Zepeda was slightly busier and able to connect early with his deceptively fast left cross. Though the first two rounds were not very action-packed, it seemed Zepeda landed more effective blows.

    Then Prograis went to work.

    “At first, I wanted to come out and box him. Maybe in the third round I caught my rhythm,” said Prograis. “Then he caught on to that.”

    Behind his awkward head movements and more agile movements Prograis used jabs and counters to force Zepeda into a more defensive stance. Though neither fighter dominated a round it was the New Orleans native who dictated the pace and action.

    Round after round was going into the books favoring Prograis, not until the eighth round did Zepeda make a move into a more aggressive mode and finally out-punched Prograis. But the former world champion adapted again.

    Prograis and Zepeda slugged it out in the ninth round. Zepeda connected with a left uppercut but Prograis withstood the blow and continued moving forward. Once again Prograis out-punched Zepeda in a very close round.

    Both seemed ready to make the 10th round their own and Zepeda connected with a left cross that landed flush. Prograis barely was moved and then increased his output and the two super lightweights exchanged furiously with the New Orleans fighter seeming to out-punch Zepeda again. It was a telling round.

    Prograis had withstood Zepeda’s biggest blows and was ready to unload some of his firepower. He had dominated most of the fight behind his jab and quick combinations. Now he was ready for the big shells.

    Both super lightweights opened up in the 11th round with each connecting early. Suddenly an overhand left by Prograis sent Zepeda reeling backward and he did not let up. A furious 13-punch barrage was unloaded and down went Zepeda. Referee Ray Corona did not bother to count and ended the fight at 59 seconds of the 11th round.

    “In the 11th round I felt like taking him to deep waters and drown him,” said Prograis.

    Once again Prograis holds a super lightweight world title.

    “I heard the small talk. I heard the rumors. I want to congratulate Zepeda, that guy was tough, tough, tough. He gave me my hardest fight,” said an ecstatic Prograis. “Listen, I got 29 fights, this was probably my hardest fight.”

    Yokasta Valle beats Evelin Bermudez

    Seeking big challenges Yokasta Valle (27-2, 9 KOs) rallied after a slow start and out-boxed Argentina’s Evelin Bermudez (17-1-1, 6 KOs) to win the WBO and IBF light flyweight world titles by majority decision after 10 rounds.

    After absorbing big right hands from Bermudez during the first two rounds, Valle solved the problem and out-hustled the taller world champion behind quick combinations and making the champion shift her feet. It was a simple but effective plan and led to Valle storming down the stretch with more effective punching.

    Bermudez had steamrolled most of her opponents behind a relentless attack that focused mainly on her big right cross. But against Valle that punch was mostly eliminated after the third round.

    Valle slipped under Bermudez’s attacks and countered with her combination punching. Occasionally the Costa Rican fighter connected with a big shot that caught the eye of the judges.

    After 10 rounds, one judge scored it 95-95, while two others saw Valle the winner by majority decision 99-91, 97-93.

    Valle, an IBF and WBO minimumweight world titlist, moved up a division to win her second weight division world title.

    Conwell Wins

    In a savage battle Ohio’s Charles Conwell (18-0, 13 KOs) bludgeoned his way to victory over Juan Carlos Abreu (25-7-1, 23 KOs) by unanimous decision after 10 rounds in a super welterweight contest. It was a skillful display of 1950s-style fighting that saw Conwell showcase his strength and canny punch selection in out-fighting veteran slugger Abreu.


    Former Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist Bakhodir Jalolov (12-0, 12 KOs) knocked out Curtis Harper (14-9) in the fourth round with a barrage if blows. Twice he knocked down Harper who had been deducted a point for an intentional head butt.

    Vargas Brothers

    Both sons of boxing great Fernando Vargas emerged victorious in their bouts. Fernando Vargas Jr. (7-0, 7 KOs) knocked out Alejandro Martinez (3-3-1) in the second round of their super welterweight bout. Amado Vargas (5-0, 2 KOs) won by decision after four rounds versus Osmar Hernandez (1-2) in a featherweight match.

    Photo credit: Al Applerose