With unified junior welterweight champ Terence Crawford 32-0 (23) relinquishing his four titles to move up and campaign in the stacked welterweight division, the arrival of NABF super lightweight champ Regis Prograis 20-0 (17) couldn’t have come at a better time. Crawford, the most skilled and dominant champ at 140 since the early 1980s when it was “Hawk Time” and Aaron Pryor was the alpha dog of the division, leaves behind a plethora of scattered bodies and former title holders he dismantled in his last few title bouts. Prograis is viewed as possibly being his successor.
Prograis, 29, was scheduled to fight Viktor Postol 29-1 (12) at the Deadwood Mountain Grand in South Dakota on March 9th in a 12-round match for the WBC’s interim super lightweight title. Postol, 34, was undefeated in his first 29 bouts and then he fought Crawford in a unification bout – bye bye undefeated record. They met back in July of 2016 and Crawford ran away with the fight, dropping Postol twice without ever having to endure a close call. Viktor would’ve been a great test for Prograis who is a natural born fighter and loves to fight. Unfortunately, Postol suffered a thumb fracture which forced him to withdraw from the bout.
With Prograis creating a stir as he blazed through his first 20 bouts, measuring his performance against Crawford’s against Postol would’ve been a nice indicator on how good and how dangerous he is. His intent going in was to stop Postol, something that Crawford failed to accomplish. And you better believe if Prograis stopped Postol, the first words out of his mouth at center ring after the fight would’ve been “I stopped a guy Terence Crawford couldn’t,” marking his arrival as a player and fighter to watch.
In 2017 boxing saw a rebirth and it seemed like the 1980’s when there were terrific fights on television every other weekend. A lot of things broke the right way and the momentum carried over from one month to the next. Well, just maybe that’s carried over into 2018, because instead of getting Prograis-Postol, former WBO/WBA 140-pound champ Julius Indongo 22-1 (11) will be fighting Prograis instead. Again, Crawford is the common denominator because Indongo’s single defeat occurred in his last fight when Terence knocked him out in the third round last August.
Prograis, ranked number two among the WBC’s super lightweights, may have caught a break because he matches up better with Indongo, ranked ninth, and may be catching him at the most opportune time. Indongo, 35, was out-gunned and completely taken apart by Crawford. It’s hard to say how he’ll respond against an aggressive fighter with finishing power like Prograis, but it’s safe to assume he won’t enter the ring with quite the same confidence he did before Crawford humiliated him. And that bodes well for Prograis because Regis punches really hard and seems to take a great shot. He’s one of those fighters that takes it as a given that he’s tougher than any opponent and, so far, he’s been right. And I must believe his management has confidence in him at this stage or they wouldn’t be so willing to put him in there against Postol or Indongo.
As for what the southpaw Prograis brings to the ring, count on aggression and excitement. He last fought in June 2017 and looked terrific stopping Joel Diaz Jr. who entered the fight 23-0 (19). Prograis stopped Diaz in the second round and in the process scored four knockdowns. The Diaz bout was a total shootout that played directly to his strong suit – his ability to punch and take a punch. But that can cut both ways because when you look to take out everybody that you fight, well, that places you in the danger zone and in perfect position to get a receipt, something Prograis doesn’t seem to mind.
We haven’t yet seen Prograis in with a ring savvy guy or anyone close to being an elite boxer. However, there aren’t many of them around in all of boxing; not just super lightweight. Furthermore, Indongo fights as a boxer/puncher. At 5-11 with a nearly 72-inch reach, Indongo will have to make it difficult for Prograis to get inside on him. If Julius can keep Regis at the end of his southpaw jab and set him up for his cross, he’ll be best served.
Conversely, Prograis can only be effective pushing the action and must navigate past Indongo’s reach. That’s easier said than done, of course, but from what I’ve seen, Prograis is very durable so that’ll save him as his last line of defense knowing he’ll most likely have to eat a couple shots in order to close the distance. Also, in Prograis, Indongo’s body will be tested because Regis can really whack to the body and that’s how Crawford got him out, and with a single shot at that.
Prograis, who said he saw holes in Terence Crawford’s game and that Crawford can be hit flush, has to be careful that his love for mixing it up doesn’t get him in trouble, but he has the look of a future star. One thing is a given that he already has over Crawford – he’s a better interview and more colorful.
I expect him to beat Indongo and then meet the winner of the WBC full title bout between Jose Ramirez 21-0 (16) and Amir Imam 21-1 (18) on March 17th at Madison Square Garden. When the dust settles, look for Prograis vs. Ramirez late this summer to determine their rightful place among the top super lightweights.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com
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