Prograis comes home, remains unbeaten with 8th-round TKO
NEW ORLEANS – For Regis “Rougarou” Prograis, “The Homecoming” – the promotional term for Saturday night’s WBC Diamond super lightweight title bout at Lakefront Arena – followed the script to perfection.
Prograis remained unbeaten in 22 career fights, including 19 by knockout, with an eighth-round TKO over Juan Jose Velasco Saturday night in front of an enthusiastic hometown crowd of 3,612.
“I’m glad I prepared the way I did mentally,” said Prograis. “This dude was trying to knock me out. He came to fight. He was unknown, but he was coming to fight.”
Fighting just a stone’s throw from where he grew up before Hurricane Katrina relocated his family to Texas, Prograis was the aggressor throughout.
Neither boxer managed to do much damage until Prograis landed a flurry of punches into the body of Velasco late in the fourth round.
Prograis put Velasco on the canvas about two minutes into the fifth round, bringing the fans seated ringside out of their seats.
Late in the seventh round, Prograis drilled Velasco with a left hand to the body, which stunned and eventually dropped the Argentinian.
Prograis knocked down Velasco for a third and fourth time in the early stages of Round 8 and after another flurry, Velasco’s corner threw in the towel at the 1:59 mark, much to the delight of Prograis’ hometown fans.
“I couldn’t lose in New Orleans,” Prograis said with a laugh. “I told my (friends), if I lose here, I’m not coming back.”
Next up for Prograis is a trip to Moscow for an announcement for the eight-man World Boxing Super Series tournament, which begins this fall.
For Velasco, it was his first loss in 21 career fights.
“He was an unknown coming in,” Prograis said, “but he’s going to be known going out. He gave me a real tough, hard fight.”
In the co-main event, 2016 Olympian Teofimo Lopez defeated William Silva by TKO 15 seconds into the sixth round for the WBC Continental Americas lightweight title.
Lopez (10-0, 8 KOs), who was born in Brooklyn but competed for Honduras – his parents’ birthplace – in Rio de Janeiro two summers ago, battled a hand injury but took the action to Silva from the outset.
Lopez, despite spotting Silva five inches in height and 2 1/2 inches in reach, floored the Brazilian with a left hand in the final minute of the first round, then put Silva down a second time just before the bell in Round 5.
Seconds into the sixth round, Lopez put Silva down again, and referee Bruce McDaniel stopped the fight. Lopez celebrated with a phantom home run swing and a trot around the ring as if they were the bases.
“I set him up the jab and see how he reacted to it,” said Lopez.
Before the main event, Saturday’s undercard featured victories by some of the rising stars of the sport.
*Erick DeLeon of Detroit stayed unbeaten by winning a unanimous decision over Adrian Young in a 10-round lightweight matchup.
DeLeon knocked down Young late in the first round and remained in control from there. The scorecards read 97-92, 97-92 and 98-91 in favor of DeLeon (18-0-1).
*Charles Conwell, a 2016 Olympian from Cleveland, stayed unbeaten as a pro when he knocked out Baton Rouge’s Travis Scott at 1:38 of the second round in a super welterweight matchup.
The 20-year-old Conwell (8-0, 6 KOs) hit Scott with a flurry of blows early in the second round before landing the knockout blow to the midsection.
*Featherweight Jean Carlos Rivera of Orlando stopped Angel Luna at 1:22 of the first round to win for the 14th time in as many bouts. It was his ninth career knockout.
*New Orleanian Jeremy “Zereaux” Hill electrified his hometown crowd just prior to the co-main event when he knocked down Charles Johnson in the second round of their four-round lightweight bout. Hill won a unanimous decision to improve to 3-0.
*Lightweight Fazliddin Gaibnazarov of Uzbekistan, a Olympic gold medalist in 2016, remained unbeaten by winning a unanimous eight-round decision over Kevin Johnson of Las Vegas in the opening bout of the undercard. Gaibnazarov is 5-0 in his pro career.
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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;…