On Saturday, Regis Prograis will put his WBA junior welterweight title on the line against IBF counterpart Josh Taylor in an eagerly anticipated unification match-up in the final of the World Boxing Super Series. The winner will be crowned The Ring Magazine champion and also collect the prestigious Muhammad Ali Trophy at the O2 Arena, London, on DAZN, at 2 p.m. PT/5 p.m. ET.
Prograis, who is rated No. 1 by The Ring at 140 pounds, turned professional in the spring of 2012 after a solid amateur career. He steadily built his career over the next couple of years before creating a buzz with some impressive displays on “ShoBox,” notably against Abel Ramos (RTD 8) and Joel Diaz Jr. (TKO 2). The 30-year-old’s rise continued when he stopped former unified beltholder Julius Indongo (TKO 2) inn March of last year. “Rougarou” entered the WBSS as the No. 1 seed and has since bested Terry Flanagan (UD 12) and stopped Kiryl Relikh (TKO 6) to win the WBA title.
Taylor, who is rated No. 2 by The Ring, was a top amateur, winning silver at the 2010 Commonwealth Games before upgrading to gold in 2014. He also represented his country at the 2011 and 2013 World Championships and fought at the 2012 Olympics. The 28-year-old has moved quickly since transitioning to the professional game in 2015, scoring eye-catching wins over previously unbeaten Ohara Davies (TKO 7), former lightweight titlist Miguel Vazquez (KO 9) and former junior welterweight kingpin Viktor Postol (UD 12). Taylor has beaten Ryan Martin (TKO 7) and Ivan Baranchyk (UD 12) to win the IBF title in the WBSS tournament.
Both men are southpaws. Who will deal with that better? Both are renowned body-punchers. Who is able to employ hi body-attack better? This is the best opponent either has faced to date, Who will handle that better? Will home advantage play a part?
Online gambling group William Hill lists Prograis as a 6/10 (-167) favorite, while Taylor is priced at 13/10 (+130); the draw is 20/1 (+2000).
Here’s how the experts see it:
THE RING MAGAZINE/RINGTV.COM
TOM GRAY: TAYLOR SD
I picked Taylor to win the WBSS and I’m sticking to it as we enter the final. The Scotsman has wonderful skills, juxtaposed alongside toughness, spite and punching power. There is no question that Prograis is Taylor’s most formidable opponent to date. The American is an excellent technician, who matches Taylor for hand speed and power. However it’s Taylor’s foot speed and distance control that are likely to get him over the line. I don’t foresee a shootout, a knockout or even a knockdown. I envision 12 rounds of high-quality combat and it will be a joy to watch. This is just the beginning for both men.
MICHAEL WOODS: PROGRAIS SD
The winner, with a solid outing, could be getting more pound-for-pound talk. Hey now – another coin flip fight! I may be inclined to give Regis more love because of familiarity, as I contemplate the comparison of assets. Both men are stepping up, will see skill sets a notch above anything they’ve dealt with. Expect even rounds, a split decision…Prograis by a hair.
MARTY MULCAHEY: TAYLOR UD
Josh Taylor and Regis Prograis are two boxer/punchers entering the fight on equal highs, given the WBSS format. The small things and intangibles will make the difference. I lean toward Taylor, given the fight in his territory and Taylor holds advantages in height, reach and bigger overall build. More importantly Taylor knows how to use these advantages. Key, for me, is the composure Taylor showed deconstructing the bullying style of Ivan Baranchyk in his last outing. Yes, Prograis is much better and quicker but I don’t see Prograis sustaining pressure on Taylor, whose feet are undervalued. Taylor has bested a wider array of styles and his movement will cause hesitation in a Prograis, who thrives when in rhythm. Much like the Errol Spence-Shawn Porter fight, Prograis lands some big shots but is unable to outbox Taylor, who maintains distance picking him apart for a unanimous decision win.
ANSON WAINWRIGHT: TAYLOR MD
Two terrific fighters and competitors. Another tough fight to pick, I’ve gone back and forth on this one. Ultimately I can’t see Prograis winning on the road in what is perceived as Taylor’s backyard. It will be difficult for Prograis to separate himself enough in a close fight to win. Both guys will have their moments but Taylor will win a hard-fought majority decision.
GARETH A. DAVIES: PROGRAIS SD
Taylor vs. Prograis is a genuine 50/50 pick ’em fight. There is little to separate the two men in terms of how they have performed as they stepped up, in their respective styles, and in the unshakeable self-belief they both have in the ring and as men. If I have to crawl off the fence, I am going to pick Prograis based on the explosive power he possesses, which can change the course of a fight. Prograis may put Taylor down. For me, Taylor can be drawn into a war, in spite of not needing to do so, being highly skilled and technical. But this will be a war and unless Taylor imposes himself – which he may do – Prograis ekes a razor-tight decision. It would not surprise me if it were controversial too. Prograis, victor by split points decision.
NORM FRAUENHEIM: PROGRAIS UD
It might be the toughest fight to pick this year. That might make it ‘Fight of the Year.’ Josh Taylor, a Scotsman, has momentum. He has power. And he’ll have the crowd at O2 Arena but does he have enough in his skill set to counter all that Prograis can do and does? Over 12 rounds, Prograis will throw a lot of different looks and punches from different angles, all enough to take control in the later rounds of a fight he wins in a close yet unanimous decision.
MIKE ALTAMURA (MANAGER): TAYLOR UD
Great fight between two high-class southpaws. Taylor is technically more polished but Prograis is definitely the more physical in the fight. If Taylor can nullify Prograis’ strength inside, I see him edging a tightly contested bout.
JOSE RAMIREZ (WBC/WBO JUNIOR WELTERWEIGHT TITLIST): PROGRAIS PTS
I think it’s a very tough fight for both fighters. I think it’s a very competive fight, two different styles and we’ll see who is the better man that night. I think Prograis is the hungrier fighter of the two but I think Taylor is the more technical. I’d be delighted to fight either one of them in the near future, so we can put all the titles on the line to have an undisputed champion in 2020. It’s a 50/50 fight. I’m going with Prograis, I think it’s definitely going to go the distance.
DUKE MCKENZIE (FORMER THREE-DIVISION TITLEHOLDER/TV ANALYST): TAYLOR UD
Prograis and Taylor is a mouth-watering fight. I’m hard-pushed to pick a winner. I like Prograis; he does more right than wrong but the smart money has to be Taylor, who looks like he’s at his peak now. Taylor is very intelligent; he picks his punches well. Let’s hope this fight doesn’t end via cuts. I think Taylor wins a unanimous points decision.
KATHY DUVA (PROMOTER, MAIN EVENTS): PROGRAIS UD
Prograis-Taylor is such a good fight but I think that Prograis might be a bit more technically proficient at this point. Taylor will certainly bring it and so the fight should go the limit, with Prograis willing a close unanimous decision.
RICKY HATTON (FORMER TWO-DIVISION WORLD TITLIST/TRAINER): PROGRAIS PTS
This is a tough one to call. They are both unbeaten with a great knockout rate. It’a genuine 50/50 fight and potentially one of the best fights for 2019. Prograis has an impressive record of wins at the top level but Josh has shown he is world-class as well in his recent fights. London is almost home advantage for Josh and that could be a big factor with the judges but I’m going for Prograis by points.
CAMILLE ESTEPHAN (PROMOTER, EYE OF THE TIGER): TAYLOR UD
I believe it will be close, hard-fought rounds. I believe Taylor is the man to beat currently in the division. I think Taylor by unanimous decision.
RONNIE SHIELDS (TRAINER): PROGRAIS
I’ve known Regis for a very long time, even before he turned professional. He’s a good kid; he’s a strong fighter and very confident fighter. It’s going to be tough for Josh Taylor because Regis is walking through guys right now. I think, right now, he’s going to be too strong for Josh. Josh is a good fighter in his own right. I just think it’s Regis’ time.
SERGIO MORA (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION/COMMENTATOR): PROGRAIS PTS
I’ve been looking forward to this one some time now. Both southpaws are high IQ fighters. I really like Taylor’s skills but I like Prograis by decision. It’ll be competitive until the end.
VADIM KORNILOV (MANAGER): TAYLOR
I think that it’s a very competitive fight. We had Postol fight Taylor; he is very strong and technically sound. Prograis also has great punching power. I think it’s a 50/50 fight but would give Taylor the edge.
FRANK WARREN (PROMOTER, QUEENSBURY PROMOTIONS): TAYLOR
It’s going to be a great fight. I watched Prograis live vs. Flanagan in New Orleans and he was very impressive. Strong, aggressive and very clever inside. Picks his shots well. Taylor is in for a long night if he gets into a brawl but if he boxes like we all know he can and doesn’t get drawn in to a scrap, I fancy him to come out on top via a close decision. Keep it long and off the jab.
MICHAEL AMOO-BEDIAKO (TRAINER): PROGRAIS PTS
This is a very interesting fight, two southpaws, which takes away both of their advantages. I like Josh Taylor a lot. He’s very well-schooled and has a great style albeit when he fights orthodox fighters, good amateur background aligned with a very good trainer in Shane McGuigan, who will always bring him ready with an excellent game plan. Regis Prograis, to me, is a little bit more rugged but has that much more experience and is very confident in his own ability. He seems unfazed no matter who’s in front of him and has that patience about him to pick his shots well without wasting a lot of energy. He totally out-boxed Terry Flanagan, another southpaw, which I think gives him the slight advantage in this fight. I think it’s a very close fight but I take Prograis on points as he just has that little bit more experience and this fight may have just come a bit too soon for Taylor but a very close fight.
RICK MIRIGIAN (MANAGER): PROGRAIS TKO
I think Prograis stops Taylor late and overwhelms him with physicality and heart. Prograis has a better resume so far, more fights and there is no substitute for heart. Then he comes back to the USA and gets knocked out and gives (Jose) Ramirez both belts – we don’t want the the fake ones; (Prograis) can keep those for his house or give to Dereck Chisora for Christmas – next year and retires and opens an alligator farm in New Orleans.
STEPHEN EDWARDS (TRAINER): TAYLOR SD
This is a tough fight to call. Prograis is really clever with his pressure. He also throws hard, straight, short punches that do more damage than people realize. He has solid defense for an offensive fighter. Taylor, in my opinion, is struggling to make weight. There is a look to his body that I don’t like but I am very high on Taylor. My gut feeling tells me Taylor will move his feet more than we expect and get the nod in a tight, controversial, draw-ish type of fight. Don’t be surprised if this is a draw but my official pick is Taylor by split decision.
WAYNE MCULLOUGH: (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION/TRAINER): TAYLOR PTS
Interesting fight with both unbeaten and also southpaws. Prograis likes to be aggressive, which should suit Taylor. Prograis has a good straight left and hurtful left shot to body, so Taylor will have to be aware of that and block them with his right elbow nice and tight to his body with his hand covering his head, then come straight back with a straight left to the head or body or a right hook to the head or body of Prograis. If he can do this and hurt Prograis, he will control the fight and box his way to a close points win. Tough fight either way.
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright.
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