Prograis mature, ready for defense of boxing title in New Orleans

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Regis Prograis. Ken Trahan

Adversity reveals character. It also separates winners from losers.

You have heard all the axioms at some point.

Of course, those mentioned are genuine.

New Orleans native Regis Prograis faced adversity.

He swallowed a bitter pill and moved on, digesting what had occurred and learning from the experience.

You likely know the story.

Prograis was displaced from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, settling in Houston. He never forgot and never abandoned his hometown, the state or the area.

In his 30-fight professional career, Prograis has fought in Metairie at the Landmark Hotel, at the Heritage Festival in Gretna, at the Belle of Baton Rouge, at Beau Rivage and Hard Rock in Biloxi, at Lakefront Arena and at the Cajundome.

Next, Prograis steps on the bigger stage of Smoothie King Center in his hometown to take on Liam Paro as he defends his WBC light welterweight title on June 17.

How good is Prograis?

Consider the rich history of boxing in New Orleans. Consider all the great names and champions produced by the Crescent City, including Ralph Dupas, Pete Herman, Willie Pastrano and Harry Wills, among many others. You can add Slidell’s Tony Canzoneri to that distinguished list.

There have been other outstanding fighters from New Orleans as well such as Jerry Celestine, John Duplessis, Tony Licata, Melvin Paul, Jerry Pellegrini, Percy Pugh and Paul Whittaker, to name a few.

While the list is distinguished, only one has captured a world championship twice.

That is Prograis.

On April 27, 2019, Prograis captured the WBA light welterweight title, stopping Kiryl Relikh by TKO in the sixth round in Lafayette.

It was a tremendous triumph over adversity in his life.

The euphoria of being a world champion did not last very long.

On October 26, 2019, Prograis, a slight favorite, lost a close fight, a majority decision, to Josh Taylor in his first defense of the title in London, England.

It was a seminal moment.

Prograis could have become depressed and regressed.

Instead, he learned and yearned to recapture the belt that was once his.

Suffice it to say that the mission was accomplished.

“I wouldn’t take the loss back,” Prograis said. “Mike Tyson said his favorite fight was the Buster Douglas fight when he got knocked out. He learned from it. It’s kind of the same for me.

“My best fight is the one I actually lost. I feel like I got way better from it. You learn from your losses, not from your wins. You learn more from your losses than your wins. I wouldn’t be where I am right now without that loss. I learned from it and got better.”

Prograis recouped, recoiled, reloaded and regained his vast potential and realized it, waiting a year to return to the ring with a pandemic casting a dark cloud over the sport, the country and the world.

He responded with third-round TKO of Juan Heraldez in San Antonio on October 31, 2020.

On April 17, 2021, Prograis dismissed Ivan Redkach on April 17, 2021 in Atlanta by TKO in the sixth round.

On March 19, 2022, Prograis dismantled Tyrone McKenna via TKO, also in the sixth round, in Dubai.

The time had come.

On November 26, 2022, Prograis got his chance at redemption and he applied all that he had learned and it paid off as he knocked out hard-punching Jose Zepeda in the 11th round at Carson, California to win the WBC light welterweight title.

“It felt real good to get that belt back,” Prograis said. “I was a champion in 2019 and now I’m a champion again. It took me a few years to get it back but now I’m back at the top, No. 1 in the world. Zepeda was a beast. It was an awesome feeling. I’m the first two-time world champion from the city and I’m proud of that.”

Now 28-1 as a professional, Prograis has worked with trainer Bobby Benton for a long time now.

“We just click,” Prograis said. “You have to have a good relationship with your trainer and we have that. We’re kind of like brothers, basically. He does the hard pool workouts with me. He wants to feel the pain that I feel in training. We just click.”

Prograis has a new promoter and feels that will boost his career in Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing.

“I think it’s just going to boost my profile way, way up,” Prograis said. “My profile is comparatively small to a lot of other people. I haven’t really been promoted the right way my whole career. Just look at what’s happening already. I’m fighting June 17 here. It’s like a match made in Heaven. They are going to promote me like I need to be promoted.”

Paro arrives in New Orleans unbeaten at 23-0 with 14 knockouts.

“He is an Australian fighter who is undefeated,” Prograis said. “He’s saying big words right now. He’s saying he’s coming here to beat me in my hometown. He wants to dethrone me. Everybody I fight wants to dethrone me so for me, that’s all it takes. I don’t have to know too much about him. I know he wants to beat me really bad and become world champion.”

Prograis has spoken with one of the greats of the sport in Roy Jones and adopted his approach to dealing with trash-talk, hate, rage, preparation and performance.

“I really focus on myself,” Prograis said. “I just want to show the world what God gave me. I just want to show everybody else how good I am. They can say anything they want. When it’s fight night, it’s fight night. You have to have that mix of seriousness and being relaxed.”
While he maintains a home in Texas, Prograis did not leave his heart in New Orleans. It is still here.

“New Orleans is always going to be home,” Prograis said. “I’ve lived different places. I’m always here. I spend more time here than anywhere else. My children go to school in Texas. New Orleans is home and New Orleans has my heart. I don’t feel at home unless I am in New Orleans. This is where I belong. I’m doing it for New Orleans.”

The hometown champ returns home, next to the ‘Dome to roam the city that will always be his.

“I want to make my city, my area proud,” Prograis said.

He already has.

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Ken Trahan


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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 with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…

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