In October 2019, Regis Prograis went to war with Josh Taylor and nearly left London as a two-time World Boxing Super Series super lightweight champion. Instead, Taylor won by a narrow majority and became the undisputed champion two fights later. Meanwhile, Progre struggled to return to big fights worthy of his talents. Everything changes on Saturday night when Prograis takes on Jose Zepeda for the vacant WBC title (PPV, 9pm ET).
Starting his career with a 22-0 score, Prograis entered the World Boxing Super Series and won two fights, capturing the WBA world title, defeating Kirill Relikh in the semi-finals of the tournament, and then losing to Taylor in the final.
The tournament showed Progre as a force in the division and a fighter with sought-after style and personality. But his decision to sign with the Probellum promotion after the loss left Prograis on the sidelines when it came to returning to the big stage.
Prograis has fought and won three times since losing to Taylor, the biggest of those fights against Ivan Redkach on the undercard of Jake Paul vs Ben Askren in April 2021. This fight had a strange ending when Progre landed a well-placed punch to Redkach’s ribs, but Redkach collapsed to the canvas, inexplicably clutching his groin and claiming that the blow that hit him in the side was a low blow. The referee believed the version of Redkach, and the fight was stopped, and Redkach awarded the victory by technical decision of the judges. The decision also went against the rules of the Georgia Athletic and Entertainment Commission, which state that a fighter who is unable to continue after an accidental low blow is declared the loser by TKO. Ultimately, the commission changed the result to TKO.
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With options limited by other promoters unwilling to risk their fighters against talent out of their control and with no championship on the line, Progre was forced to wait until the opportunity presented itself, which happened when Jose Ramirez pulled out of a scheduled rematch with Zepeda . for the WBC belt, vacated by Taylor, leaving the WBC to schedule a fight between Zepeda and Prograis.
Prograis wanted his chance to fight the best fighters available to him, and he thinks a win on Saturday could attract the likes of Teofimo Lopez.
“Everyone has a price, so if the money is right, I think so,” Progré said in boxing scene interview. “But I do think I will hurt him. I really think I can hurt him, stop him. Look, Teofimo, I thought he had 135 stock. Of course, with Kambosos, we can say that Kambosos had the best night. in his life and Teofimo had the worst night of his life. We can always say that, but with 140, his last fight he fought someone who wasn’t too strong and he got hit a lot. Now, I just can’t see.”
After losing in 2019 in his first fight with Ramirez, Zepeda has won five consecutive victories. A fighter eager for action, Zepeda took part in one of the best fights in recent years when he faced Ivan Baranchik in October 2020.
There were eight knockdowns in the fight between Zepeda and Baranchyk, four for each fighter. Zepeda then finished the case with a devastating fifth-round knockout.
The victory over Baranchyk gave Zepeda a secondary WBC title, which he defended twice to maintain his status as the next person to claim the WBC world title.
On Saturday, the wait for a world title fight came to an end for both men and fans.
“I felt like I wasn’t getting enough attention,” Zepeda said. interview with Ring magazine. “It controlled me. I kept thinking that maybe I was an outsider and I believed what people thought of me. I was the underdog against Baranchik, (Jose) Pedraza and Vargas. I fully agree to be the underdog against Regis.” The difference now is that I’m much more confident in myself and what I’m capable of doing.”
There are three more fights on the undercard. In the co-main event, Jocasta Valle will take on Unified World Junior Flyweight Champion Evelyn Nazarena Bermudez. Super middleweight Charles Conwell returns to take on Juan Carlos Abreu. And heavyweights Bakhodir Jalolov and Curtis Harper intend to fight in the first fight.
Let’s take a closer look at the latest Caesars Sportsbook odds undercard before making our prediction and expert picks for the main event.
Progre vs Zepeda battle map, odds
|Prog Mode -410||José Zepeda +320||Vacant WBC super lightweight title|
|From Yoki to Valle -200||Evelyn Nazarena Bermudez (c) +170||IBF, WBO junior flyweight titles|
|Charles Conwell -2500||Juan Carlos Abreu +1200||Super Middleweight|
|Bakhodir Jalolov -4000||Curtis Harper +1500||heavyweight|
This is a battle of southpaws who thrive when they have counters. Zepeda will come out with a reach advantage and will likely try to use his jab to keep Progre from cutting the distance. The problem for Zepeda is that Progre is better as a fighter with a deeper moveset, more speed, better defense and a better chin.
When opponents can get close to Zepeda, he tends to fight defensively. Prograis is technically proficient enough to get past the jab and quick enough to not only throw counters, but also avoid counters that Zepeda tends to thrive on. The fight will be interesting from the very first bell, but Progre’s ability to switch gears and offer Zepeda various problems to solve will be enough to get him through most of the rounds. Choice: Prograis via UD