Prograis excited to return home in battle of boxing unbeatens vs. Velasco
The Rougarou is coming in the night!
When New Orleans native Regis Prograis steps into the ring on Saturday, July 14 against Juan Jose Velasco, Prograis looks to live up to the nickname as a werewolf at Lakefront Arena in the main event of a big card.
It will be a battle of unbeatens, the fight will be shown live on ESPN and on ESPN Deportes as Prograis defends his Interim WBC super lightweight title at 140 pounds.
Prograis relocated to Houston after Hurricane Katrina. He compiled a very impressive 87-7 record as an amateur before turning pro and he is unbeaten at 21-0 in his professional career with 18 knockouts since turning pro in 2012.
The 29-year old claimed the vacant Interim title with a second-round knockout win over former unified champion Julius Indongo on March 9 at Deadwood, South Dakota.
Prograis prepped at McDonogh 35 and at Sarah Reed High School.
While Prograis has fought in Metairie (once), Baton Rouge (once), Opelousas (once) and Biloxi (twice), this will mark his first professional fight in his hometown. He hopes to fight at home more often.
Prograis is becoming a local celebrity. He was recognized recently at a New Orleans Pelicans game. He threw out a first pitch Wednesday night at the Cakes baseball game. He was the focus of a press conference which received widespread local and national coverage earlier Wednesday. He was a guest with me on All Access on WGSO 990 AM earlier this evening.
Prograis has a wicked left hand. He is thrilled to finally have a chance to fight in his hometown.
“It’s super important,” Prograis said. ”One of my biggest goals aside from being a world champion and making money is bringing big-time boxing back to New Orleans. I have everything behind me to make it happen. I grew up a minute from Lakefront Arena. Everyone always asked me about when I would fight here. It’s going to happen. It is exciting.”
Velasco, 31, is nicknamed “El Pit Bull” for his aggressive style.
“I don’t know yet,” Prograis said. “I know he is unbeaten so you have to respect it. I don’t know anything about him. I really don’t study my opponents. I have become a smart fighter. I have to do what I do best and not worry about what the other guy does. All I need to know about him is he is unbeaten and he is in my way.
Prograis enjoys the praise he has received but has a clear goal in his mind.
“Most of the boxing experts are saying I’m the best at my weight and I have not won the big prize, the big belt yet,” Prograis said. “I want that but whether I have the belts or not, I want to be known as the best in my class.”
A native of Argentina, Velasco is 20-0 with 12 knockouts. His last fight was on May 11 in Buenos Aires as he scored a TKO win over Jorge Martin Garcia. This will mark just the second fifth for Velasco in the United States.
“I can’t wait to get it on in New Orleans,” Prograis said. “It’s going to be special. I will have a lot of friends and family there. The country will be watching. I can’t wait. New Orleans had Willie Pastrano as a champion. I want to be the next one New Orleans can call champion.”
Veteran boxing promoter and manager Les Bonano, as is seemingly always the case, is playing a pivotal role in the big event. He sold the higher-ups on Lakefront Arena as a venue.
“Absolutely,” Bonano said. “Bob Arum and Lou DiBella hired me as an event coordinator. We talked to a lot of people about sites. After crunching the numbers, I told him about UNO and Marco Perez, who runs the arena. Lou called Regis, who said he grew up two blocks from UNO. He said to make it happen and we did.”
When did Bonano know Prograis was going to be special?
“He fought down here at the Landmark at GretnaFest,” Bonano said. “He changed trainers and went to Bobby Benton out of Houston. Bobby did a great job with him and made him a different fighter. He made that much of a difference. Velasco will have support here from Argentina. He’s coming to win. It’s going to be a tremendous fight. I think Regis will knock him out in a very tough fight.”
What is the best trait Prograis possesses?
“He stays so busy and is right on the opponent,” Bonano said. “He has a lot of power. The fact that he is a southpaw makes him even better. It is very difficult to prepare for lefties. He’s got the talent to be the best. Everyone in the world is going to know who he is. He is a first-class kid. He could have made more money fighting this fight in Las Vegas or in New York. He and DiBella were dedicated to helping New Orleans.”
In the co-main event, top unbeaten 20-year-old lightweight prospect Teofimo Lopez (9-0, 7 KOs) of Las Vegas will take on 31-year-old William Silva (25-1, 14 Kos) of Brazil.
Tickets are available at Lakefront Arena or through regisprograis.com.
This Saturday night (June 2), Bonano bring professional boxing back to Copeland Tower, formerly the Landmark Hotel. Bonano has staged numerous fight cards there over the last three decades.
“We’ve had Evander Holyfield fight there, along with gold medal winners,” Bonano said. “It is very difficult to bring cards here. The Gulf Coast has great venues and they will have sports betting soon. It is very competitive.”
The card Saturday night begins at 7 p.m.
“We are excited about the card,” Bonano said. “Jonathan Guidry, who is unbeaten, is fighting the main event,” Bonano said. “He is from Dulac, Louisiana. If he wins, he will fight on the card on July 14. Jeremy Hill won a national amateur championship a year ago and he is making his second pro fight. My grandson (Devin McGovern) will fight one time as a pro and it will be one and done. He is a 6-2, 220 heavyweight and he is fighting a 6-3, 235 opponent. It should be a war.”
Tickets are available at Copeland Tower or by calling the ticket hotline at (504) 717-9898.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…