Full-time fighter, part-time interpreter: City abuzz with talk of Saturday’s big fights

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NEW ORLEANS -- The city of New Orleans is buzzing with talk about Saturday's fights at Lakefront Arena.

"From the second I got off the airplane, taxi drivers are talking about this fight," said fight promoter Lou DiBella. "People at the airport are talking about this fight. You have a sense that people know there's a big-time boxing event here."

It's been 55 years since a native New Orleanian has fought a world title fight in New Orleans. Regis Prograis is that guy to bring boxing back to the Crescent City.

"The Lakefront Arena, I grew up right around the corner from there," Prograis said. "In the car, you literally get there in two minutes. So just to be headlining that, that's super important for me. I'm honored for it."

"This town has had huge fights in it," DiBella said. "This, at one point, was a fight town for the biggest and best fights in all of boxing. This is the guy that can make that happen for the future."

We know by now that Prograis is a world champion. We know he's undefeated. But did you know he speaks Portuguese too? Prograis, whose wife is Brazilian, stepped in to translate for fellow fighter, William Silva, showing off his bilingual abilities.

"He said he's ready for the fight," said Prograis, interpreting Silva's answer. "It's a real important fight. He had a real good training camp and he's ready for this fight. Basically. You want to say something else?"

But Prograis' opponent's camp wasn't having any of his help on the translation front.

"We are not allowing you to translate for my guy," said Juan Jose Velasco's interpreter.

"I don't speak Spanish," Prograis responded. "I speak Portuguese. If you want, I can translate for him without him even talking."

It wouldn't be a pre-fight presser without a little smack talk, and Saturday won't be just any fight -- it'll be a New Orleans event.

"A lot of people haven't been to fights in New Orleans," Prograis said. "All the New Orleans people here, you know how we do. We get down. We're going to party. We're going to have a nice time. If these people never been to New Orleans, y'all going to see. New Orleans is a different city. This is a different environment and you're going to see Saturday night."


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