NEW ORLEANS – Since the Crescent City last saw native son Regis “Rougarou” Prograis in the ring in July, it’s been a whirlwind for the rising star of boxing’s super lightweight division.
Prograis has been to Russia, Brazil and then in training for nearly six weeks in both Los Angeles and Houston as he counts down to an Oct. 27 matchup with Englishman Terry Flanagan at UNO Lakefront Arena.
“I started training camp two weeks earlier,” Prograis said Wednesday in a visit with local media. “I had to go to Russia on Tuesday (after his last fight). When I came back, I went back to Houston and bought a house. I barely stayed in my house for a couple of days, then I went to Brazil for a month … I was training MMA and jiu jitsu. I was back in Houston for a week, then off to (Los Angeles) for training camp.”
The longer camp allowed Prograis and trainer Bobby Benton to change the focus initially.
“As we start camp, we usually start with strength and conditioning,” Benton said. “Instead, we worked his feet. His feet are so much better, his balance is better. It’s made a difference.”
Prograis was wearing a reminder of how difficult training for the fight has been, showing a mark below his left eye as a result of a “little pop” in training Tuesday.
“My training camps are really, really hard,” Prograis said. “My body is sore.”
It’s the second consecutive fight at Lakefront Arena for Prograis, who dispatched Juan Jose Velasco in an eighth-round TKO in the headline event of New Orleans’ first championship fight card in nearly two decades.
“My whole goal is to turn it into a franchise,” Prograis said. “We got the Saints, the Pelicans, and hopefully now we’ll have Regis Prograis.”
A win against Flanagan could mean a return to New Orleans for his next bout.
Prograis, who is 22-0 in his career with 19 knockouts, is not only the No. 1 seed in the super lightweight bracket for the Ali Trophy, but ranked No. 1 in the 140-pound division by ESPN. As the top seed, he had a choice of opponents and picked Flanagan (33-1, 13 KOs).
“I’m in it to fight the best people,” Prograis said. “Terry Flanagan is tough, he’s scrappy, he’s going to come to right and he has a lot of experience. I wanted to fight the hardest fight first.”
If his first fight in his hometown taught Prograis anything, it was to watch what he eats right before the fight. What will he do differently this time? “Don’t eat po-boys and gumbo before I fight,” he said. “Otherwise, everything went smoothly. I experienced (nervousness) already, so that’s done. This time, it’s going to be back being fun to me again.”
If Prograis can win the Ali Trophy – the final would likely happen around June 2019 – he has in his sight a matchup with fellow unbeaten Jose Ramirez (23-0). Prograis attended Ramirez’s fight last month in Fresno, California.
Prograis and his team were headed back to Houston late Wednesday to resume training before returning to New Orleans in the days leading up to the fight.
The Prograis-Flanagan co-headliner is another Ali Trophy super-lightweight quarterfinal between Ivan Baranchyk and Anthony Yigit for the IBF world championship.
The undercard is expected to begin at 6 p.m., with the two main events at about 9. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster and the Lakefront Arena box office.
Lenny has been involved in college athletics since the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…