Lafayette, La. -- Regis Prograis has another belt to add to his collection. The New Orleans native defeated WBA World Champion Kiryl Relikh Saturday night in the World Boxing Super Series semifinal, to claim the WBA title in the super lightweight division. The fight ended on a 6th round stoppage.
"I'm feeling wonderful," Prograis said about the victory. "This is a dream come true. I started boxing when I was 17 and ever since I started I wanted to be a world champion. Ever since everybody started, they want to be a world champion and I'm a world champion. It's crazy right now."
Prograis made his presence felt immediately, with a first round knock-down that Relikh nearly didn't get up from. After that, The Rougarou's attack had Relikh's nose split open by the second round as Prograis continued with a steady stream of punches to his head and body. Prograis' power and confidence seemed to build as the rounds went on, landing solid punches to Relikh's face in the 4th and 5th rounds. All the while, he dodged everything Relikh tried to throw, with a level of quickness that was stunning.
"What do you say?" WBSS executive Kalle Sauerland commented after the fight. "Whether you look at the head movements-- there was one I think either the second or third round where he was bouncing about. You can do that with a rope but you don't do that with a human being who's a world champion. Then there was the footwork-- incredible. He went to the body early, touched him twice, put him down with a third time to the body. Second round, Relikh comes up [blocking his body] which he has to do and he goes to the head. He brings the hands up and he goes back to the body. It was a boxing masterclass."
Prograis and his trainer, Bobby Benton, agreed that Saturday's performance was a good show of his versatility in the ring, which is tough to stop-- or even prepare for.
"When I first started training him he was just a beast," Benton said. "He would just walk everybody down. He wanted to fight every day. Every time he came to the gym to spar he just came in hands-up and beat you down. And then we started working and I realized he's special. He's got really good eyes and good defense. He doesn't have to get hit. He has days in the gym when he doesn't get touched. That to me is like, OK. Tonight he mixed it in. He mixed his offense with his defense and that's where he needs to be."
"I keep telling people I keep doing different things every fight," Prograis said. "I'm going to keep proving it to people. Just like Bobby said-- I think I'm a trainer's nightmare to study. You can't study me. I can do so many different things. The only thing I can't do is turn right handed. That's it. And I don't care about doing that [expletive] anyways. If people saw my video, I can't turn right handed. But as a southpaw, they can't do what I can do. I can do anything in the ring-- whatever I feel like doing. I'm the boss. Every time I get in there, I'm the boss. I know that I can do so many other things."
Prograis is now (24-0) with 20 KOs. As for Relikh, this was his third loss and first time he'd ever lost by KO.
"I'm not happy," Relikh said. "This is truly not my day. I don't know what happened. I'm not TKO. I don't know what happened. Regis, thanks. Good fight. Sorry this fight had to stop. Really not my day."
Prograis now awaits his next opponent in the WBSS finals in the super lightweight division at a date and location to be determined. He will either be fighting John Taylor or Ivan Baranchyk. Those two are set to compete in their WBSS semifinal bout May 18 in Glasgow.