It’s Been a Hard Road for Regis Prograis


By David A. Avila

LOS ANGELES-Sitting in a private dining room of the ritzy Palm Restaurant, Regis Prograis wears an expensive-looking gold chain as he explains bits and pieces of his life like a jigsaw puzzle.

Life has not always been easy, but no complaints from the native of New Orleans.

“No regrets at all,” Prograis insists.

The braided Prograis (29-1, 24 KOs) is preparing to defend the WBC super lightweight title against undisputed lightweight champ Devin Haney (30-0, 15 KOs) a slick-fighting undefeated fighter from Las Vegas. When they meet, it will take place at the Chase Center in San Francisco in early December.

DAZN will stream the Matchroom Boxing pay-per-view clash on December 9.

It’s tantamount to a Christmas present for Prograis.

“All I want is big fights,” he says, adding Ryan Garcia, Teofimo Lopez and Tank Davis as preferences. “Boxing needs fights that you don’t know who is going to win.”

The New Orleans fighter whose family was forced to flee their home due to Hurricane Katrina back in 2005, explained the pain, hunger and feeling of futility the disaster caused.

His family was forced to move to Texas and it was in the Lone Star state that he discovered boxing at a rather late age.

“I started boxing at 17. I was fighting everybody,” Prograis, 34, said, adding that his early wins were due to raw talent, not skill. “Now I’m using skill.”

Being poor and lacking skills did not deter Prograis from continuing his journey. Despite making very little money and unable to see a clear path, he trekked on despite hunger and lack of recognition.

“I had a hard ass road,” he said. “I was broke as s—t.”

Prograis feels the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina, and finding his former home eight feet under water, developed a resilience he didn’t have before.

“It put a different spirit in me,” said Prograis who was 16 when the calamity occurred.

From fighting for a single dollar to making more than a million in world title fights, the New Orleans native firmly believes his journey was built from a hunger that others do not possess.

“I don’t think Devin Haney ever had a job,” he said of his future foe in describing their differences.

Hunger drives him constantly despite the money already accrued from championship fights.

“You have to have a different mental attitude. I was fighting grown men when I was 14,” admits Prograis.

Though he’s already won the super lightweight title twice, he has no plans to move up a weight division. Prograis desires to dominate the division like Marvin Hagler dominated the middleweights in the 80s and Aaron Pryor dominated the super lightweights.

By the way, he has tattoos of both boxers on his arm along with other legendary fighters such as Muhammad Ali, Henry Armstrong, Joe Louis and Jack Johnson. They are reminders of his goals.

Hunger always serves as a reminder of his journey.

“I once fought for $1,400 and spent $1,200 draining my cauliflower ear,” he said.

And asked if it was worth the sacrifice, Prograis nodded yes.

“I had a hard ass road.”

Photo credit: Al Applerose