While fully focused on the powerful southpaw he’ll encounter Saturday night, Regis Prograis sees Jose Zepeda as his conduit to the rematch he wants with another left-handed opponent.
Prograis is holding out hope that Josh Taylor will beat Jack Catterall in their rematch and that the Scottish southpaw opts to remain in the 140-pound division for at least one more bout thereafter. The New Orleans native realizes it might amount to wishful thinking, but Prograis wants nothing more than the opportunity to avenge his lone loss – a 12-round, majority-decision defeat to Taylor in October 2019 at the O2 Arena in London.
Zepeda (35-2, 27 KOs, 2 NC), of La Puente, California, and Prograis (27-1, 23 KOs), of Katy, Texas, will fight for the WBC super lightweight title Taylor relinquished in the 12-round main event of a pay-per-view show that’ll be televised from Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California (9 pm ET; 6 pm PT; $59.99). If Progais defeats Zepeda and Taylor retains his WBO belt by conquering Catterall on February 4 at OVO Hydro in Glasgow, Taylor (19-0, 13 KOs) would essentially fight for a title he cast aside if he were to agree to oppose Prograis again.
“For me, the number one guy on my list is Josh Taylor,” Prograis told BoxingScene.com. “I don’t know what’s gonna happen to him after this fight. I don’t know if he’s gonna go up or not. But if everything goes smooth, I’ll be a world champion and if he can beat Catterall, he’ll be a world champion. I think that’s a huge fight. Of course, I won’t fight him in the UK again.
“But maybe we can fight in Dubai or Abu Dhabi or something like that, somewhere me and him could make a huge fight. Prograis versus Taylor II, I think that’ll be a big fight, especially if we both have the belts. To unify again, I think that’ll be a huge fight. That’s the number one person on my hit list.”
Taylor topped Prograis on two of three scorecards in the final of the World Boxing Super Series’ 140-pound tournament three years ago. Italy’s Matteo Montella (117-112) and Mexico’s Alfredo Polanco (115-113) scored their 12-round fight for Taylor, while Quebec’s Benoit Roussel had it a draw (114-114).
Prograis, 33, is much more certain that Catterall deserved a victory over Taylor than he did.
“I think he definitely lost that fight,” Prograis said. “Me and his fight was a close fight, you know, and it could’ve gone either way. I feel that I won. With Catterall, for me, I think Catterall clearly won that fight.”
Catterall dropped Taylor in the eighth round. A stunned Taylor reached his feet and later overcame a point deduction for hitting Catterall after the bell sounded to conclude the 11th round.
Judges Ian-John Lewis (114-111) and Victor Loughlin (113-112) thought Taylor edged Catterall by slim margins, but judge Howard Foster scored it for Catterall by one point, 113-112. Referee Marcus McDonnell also took a point away from Catterall for holding during the 10th round.
The 31-year-old Taylor gave up his IBF, WBA and WBC belts in the months following his controversial victory over Catterall (26-1, 13 KOs). He will defend only his WBO championship in a rematch with Catterall that Taylor demanded.
“I’m not surprised about it,” Prograis said of Taylor’s insistence on fighting Catterall again. “I don’t know him too much personally, but from what I do know of Josh Taylor is that he wants to shut the people up. And a lot of people gave him a lot of sh*t about that, especially in the UK because the UK people are really serious about that stuff. From what I understand, he was just getting a lot of hate mail, people talking about his family and all that stuff. He had to revisit that. Being over there in the UK, like you can’t run from it. If people thought you lost that fight, you have to fight him again, unless you just like moving to America or something like that. So, he had to fight Catterall again.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.