Regis Prograis Becomes World Champ Again With Impressive KO
After Regis Prograis lost his junior welterweight world title by razor-close majority decision to Josh Taylor in 2019 on his turf in the United Kingdom it seemed likely he would find himself back in a title fight in short order given how well he had fought, how close the bout was and how much all-out action it provided.
But it took Prograis three years — and three fights, all knockout wins — to finally get a second opportunity, and he was not about to let it get away from him or leave any doubt about the rightful winner as he did against Taylor.
Going to his opponent’s home turf again, Prograis put on a masterful performance of boxing and punching as he delivered a one-sided beat down to Jose Zepeda before knocking him out with an electrifying closing flurry in the 11th round on Saturday night.
— Probellum (@probellum) November 27, 2022
The victory secured Prograis the vacant WBC 140-pound belt and made him a two-time world titleholder in the main event of a Legendz Entertainment and MarvNation Promotions pay-per-view card before an announced crowd of 4,302 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
Prograis bloodied Zepeda’s face, strafed him with straight left hands and more or less did as he pleased for most of the fight. But Zepeda was nothing if not resilient standing up to everything Prograis threw at him until he closed the show in emphatic style.
“First off, before I say anything, I want to congratulate Jose Zepeda. That dude is tough, tough, tough,” Prograis said during his in-ring interview as Zepeda stood near him. “He came to fight. He probably gave me one of my hardest fights. I’m not even gonna lie. This dude is tough.
“I got so much respect for you. You prepared me to get this belt and to hold this belt, so I congratulate you. All the best to you, bro. Don’t stop. I feel like you still gonna be a world champion. You good, bro. You real good.”
Zepeda was punished most of night
Zepeda (35-3, 27 KOs), 33, of La Puente, California, may have been good, but fellow southpaw Prograis (28-1, 24 KOs), 33, of New Orleans, was far superior. He used his herky-jerky style, quick feet and hands and constant head and upper body movement to keep Zepeda off balance after losing the first round on all three scorecards.
But then he took over, mainly with his left hand but he also landed crisp jabs and a few right hooks.
Prograis had a very strong fourth round. He landed a clean right hand on the chin and later opened a cut over Zepeda’s right eye.
From there, Prograis really began to pick up the pace with an even more dominant fifth round in which he landed a fight-high 22 of 77 punches, according to CompuBox statistics.
“At first I wanted to come out and box him. But then I started in probably the second or third round catching my rhythm and I started walking forward a little bit,” Prograis said. “I think that caught him off guard. But then after that he caught on to that. So then my coach (Bobby Benton) told me go ahead and box him, walk him into some shots.”
He walked him into plenty and Zepeda simply could keep pace with Prograis, who continued land hard blows and put rounds in the bank against an opponent who did not appear to have any particular plan.
Even when Zepeda landed a heavy left early in the 10th round, Prograis responded and Zepeda tried to hold on. Later in the 10th round, Prograis began bleeding from his right ear but fired a jab that rocked Zepeda’s head back.
He finished a fading Zepeda in the 11th round, beginning the final sequence with a jab to the chin followed by a hard right to head. Then Prograis advanced toward Zepeda, who went to the ropes and was a dead duck.
Prograis landed a left-right-left combination and kept firing. He unleashed about dozen unanswered punches in the sequence, including a brutal left hand that badly hurt Zepeda, who fell to the canvas as referee Ray Corona was stepping in to stop the fight at 59 seconds. Prograis led 98-92, 98-92 and 97-93 at the time of the KO.
“I knew I trained hard. I’ve been training for like six months for this,” Prograis said. “I felt I could take him to deep waters and drown him.”
Punch numbers show Prograis dominance
Prograis landed 156 of 634 punches (25 percent) and Zepeda landed just 66 of 381 (17 percent), according to CompuBox. Prograis outlanded him in every round except for the first round (8-4) and Zepeda, who was coming off a 13-month layoff, never landed more than nine punches in a single round while Prograis landed in double digits in eight of the 11 rounds.
It was the end of a rough week for Zepeda, who was involved in a minor fender bender on Monday that caused him to miss the pre-fight media workout before falling short in his third shot at a world title. He had lost a majority decision to Jose Ramirez in 2019 when Ramirez held the WBC title and in 2015 he suffered a dislocated left shoulder, causing a second-round knockout loss to then-WBO lightweight titlist Terry Flanagan.
Before Prograis turned his attention to his future, he encouraged Zepeda to continue his quest to win a world title.
“I got 29 fights now. This was probably my hardest fight. I’m not even gonna lie,” Prograis said. “If you keep going you will be a world champ, I can guarantee you. You will be a world champ, I promise you that.”
As for his own future, Prograis wasn’t interested in calling anyone out. He has done that in the past and found it very hard to land meaningful fights.
“I need a good vacation but Richard give me the right fights,” Prograis said, referring to his promoter, Richard Schaefer of Probellum. “But right now let me take a little break, a little vacation.
“I’m not gonna say nobody’s name no more. I’m gonna let them say my name. At first nobody wanted to say my name. Now I’m a two-time world champion. Everybody’s gonna say my name. They can say my name.”