Regis Prograis fulfilled two dreams Saturday night. He fought in his hometown of New Orleans for the first time and he was victorious in front of them.
In six years as a professional, Regis Prograis has never fought professionally in his hometown New Orleans. He’s always dreamed of being glorious in front of a New Orleans crowd. He realized that dream on Saturday, July 14 when he successfully defended his interim WBC super lightweight title against Juan Velasco.
Prograis had a lot riding on this fight. His pride was on the line and so was a spot in the World Boxing Super Series super lightweight tournament. He proved to be as tough as advertised, and he also showed that he handles pressure well.
Prograis made his way to the ring in true Mardi Gras fashion. He had a Dixieland band in tow with his entourage adorned in masks, boas and beads. Prograis’ fans showed up in force and cheered him all the way. It was a festive atmosphere, but when the music died down, a fight was on.
Velasco took the center of the ring early in found one. He established his jab and kept Prograis on the outside. Prograis struggled to find his range. When Prograis stormed Velasco with an attack, Prograis circled on the outside. Velasco boxed cautiously, but intelligently. This was Velasco’s round.
Prograis put himself in a better position in round two. He took the center of the ring and started to find his jab. He pressed forward but was under control. Prograis put a lot of pressure on Velasco and Velasco didn’t handle it well. Prograis found a home for his thudding straight left hand. Velasco had no answers for Prograis’ attack. This was a dominant round for Prograis.
Round three started off quietly, but Velasco tried to heat things up after the first minute. He threw some wild hooks, but most of them missed. Prograis remained calm and pushed forward with a spartan resolve. He landed a hard straight left with 30 seconds remaining that drove Velasco back. That one punch was enough to win him the round.
Prograis and Velasco started round four at close quarters. They huddled defensively head to head and exchanged hooks to the body. Prograis got the better of the exchange. Prograis continued to score with hooks to Velasco’s head. None of his punches were haymakers, but they scored and wore Velasco down.
Velasco back pedaled for the entirety of round five. To make matters worse, he didn’t offer up any sort of attack to keep Prograis away. Velasco appeared to have no answers for Prograis. It was no surprise when Prograis landed a short right to Velasco’s gut that dropped him to the canvas. Velasco got up late in the count and survived the round with 40 seconds remaining.
Velasco continued to run away from Prograis in round six, but he had nowhere to go. Prograis effectively cornered him and landed rights to the head and lefts to Velasco’s body. Prograis made outboxing Velasco look easy as he cruised through the round.
The seventh round was a carbon copy of the sixth. Prograis attacked and Velasco retreated. The only thing that changed was the work rate of both boxers. It looked like Prograis took the round off, but then he quickly struck Velasco with a left hook to the body that put him down for the second time of the fight. Velasco got to his feet but took a beating to the body until the bell rang.
Velasco looked spent between rounds. The interpreter caught Velasco telling his corner that he didn’t want to continue. They didn’t listen and tried to buoy his spirits by telling him to stop retreating and box. That was foolish advice. Velasco was exhausted and hurt, but his corner was too ignorant to listen to their boxer’s desperate pleas for help.
Prograis immediately attacked Velasco’s body at the start of the eighth. It didn’t take long before Velasco was on his back for the third time. He got to his feet, but spit out his mouthpiece to buy some time to rest. When the fighting resumed, Velasco dropped to the canvas, but it was ruled a slip.
Prograis relentlessly worked Velasco’s body, and Velasco’s corner finally stopped the fight. They made the right move, but it came a round too late. They should have stopped the bout when Velasco said he didn’t want to continue. Velasco’s corner needlessly allowed their fighter to get severely beaten. They’re lucky he didn’t suffer a serious injury.
Prograis fulfilled some of his dreams tonight, but there’s more that he wants to accomplish. He wants to be considered one of the best boxers in the world. Prograis will get his chance when he enters the World Boxing Super Series super lightweight tournament. He punched his way into the tournament. It will be interesting to see how far Prograis can go. Right now, it looks like the sky’s the limit for Regis Prograis.