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Regis Prograis: I can knockout Jose Ramirez

By Chris Williams: Undefeated interim WBC light welterweight champion Regis ‘Rougarou’ Prograis (21-0, 18 KOs) says he’ll be facing newly crowned WBC 140 lb. champion Jose Carlos Ramirez (22-0, 16 KOs) in his next fight after his 12 round unanimous decision victory over Amir Iman (21-2, 18 KOs) last Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Prograis, 29, says he walked up to Ramirez’s promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank moments after Ramirez’s victory over Imam last Saturday night, and he told him that he’ll be the one facing Ramirez next.

Prograis says Arum didn’t even know who he was, so he told him that he’ll be facing Ramirez next. Prograis says Arum merely agreed. However, there’s talk that Arum wants to wait until the end of 2018 before he makes the Ramirez vs. Prograis fight. The World Boxing Council, however, is saying that Ramirez MUST fight Prograis next and not later. So, it’s going to come down to whether Arum follows what the WBC is saying or if he can work out a deal with the sanctioning body to let Ramirez steer around the fight with Prograis for the time being. What’s clear is Ramirez will have to fight Prograis sooner or later. He’s not going to be able to put him on hold for 2 or 3 years waiting for him to get old before he chooses to fight him. Ramirez will have to fight Prograis soon, and it could end badly for him.

“Well, this is who I’m supposed to fight,” Prograis said to RingTV Digital about Ramirez. “They should start negotiation soon; because this is exactly who I’m supposed to fight I know I was going to get one of those two, Imam or Ramirez. I felt it was going to be Ramirez by decision, and that’s exactly who I’m supposed to fight next,” Prograis said.

Prograis captured the interim WBC 140 lb. title in his last fight in stopping former IBF/WBA light welterweight champion Julius Indongo in the 2nd round on March 9 in Deadwood, South Dakota. Prograis knocked Indongo down four times in the fight before it was stopped by referee Ian John Lewis at 2:54 of round 2. It was brutal display of punching power by the hard-hitting 5’8” Prograis.

”Of course, I think I can beat him,” Prograis said of Ramirez. ”He got hit with some good shots, but I’m a left-hander. I feel I can punch a little harder than Imam, and I’m more accurate. Imam, he actually missed a lot of punches also. I feel like I’m more accurate. If I can hit him with some clean shot, I can probably get him out of there. So, we’ll see. I think it’ll be a good fight, because we have conflicting styles, but at the same time we’re the same because we’re going to come at each other. He’s going to come forward. I’m going to come forward, and it’s going to be a great fight,” Prograis said of a fight between him and the 25-year-old Ramirez.

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Ramirez is a high volume puncher just like Prograis. The difference is that Ramirez doesn’t possess the same kind of punching power as Prograis, and he doesn’t have his powerful jab or his great inside game. Ramirez’s style is perfect for Prograis to score a fast knockout. Ramirez probably can’t change the way he fights, because he’s always been a pressure fighter since his amateur days. If he tries to tinker with his style to change it for the Progais fight, he’ll likely fail miserably. Ramirez has to stick with what has brought him to this point and hope that he can beat Prograis with his high volume attack like he’s done with his other 22 opponents.

Prograis has become a more lethal puncher since his grueling 8 round unanimous decision victory over Amos Cowart in August 2015. Since that fight, Prograis has stopped his last six opponents with most of the knockouts occurring in 4 rounds or less. Prograis destroyed previously undefeated knockout artist Joel Diaz Jr. (23-1, 19 KPs) in two rounds last June. Some boxing fans felt Diaz Jr. would give Prograis a serious run for his money, but the fight turned out to be a mismatch. Prograis used his Aaron Pryor style of fighting by throwing nonstop power shots to the head and body of Diaz Jr. to knock him down 4 times in round 2 before the referee stopped the fight. All four knockdowns came from left hand power shots from Prograis. In the 1st round, Prograis hurt Diaz Jr. with a left to the body in the final seconds of the round. Diaz Jr. is a bigger puncher than Ramirez, and Prograis handled him with ease. Ramirez is going to have some major problems dealing with Prograis’ nonstop pressure and his powerful left hand. I’m not sure that Ramirez is going to be able to last more than four rounds against Prograis unless he runs from him.

”I feel like I’m one of the top guys at 140,” Prograis said. ”I feel like there are two names a 140, Regis Prograis and Mikey, and I think in the next 18 months that’ll be one of the biggest fights in boxing. That’s what I’m hearing,” Prograis said about Ramirez’s promoter Bob Arum wanting the Ramirez-Prograis fight to take place in Southern California. “I’m not sure I want to go to his hometown. It depends. I know he puts a lot of people into the stands, but I feel like I can do the same thing in New Orleans. We’ll have to see about that. There are some things that we’ll need to negotiate and see about,” Prograis said.

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Arum will likely push hard to get Prograis to fight Ramirez in Southern California, but I don’t think it’ll matter at all. This fight won’t go to the judges. One of these two fighters will get knocked out, and it’ll likely be Ramirez. He’s not as powerful or nearly as rugged as Prograis. Ramirez’s boxing fans will be cheering for him, but Prograis will ignore the fans and do what he always does in attacking his opponent with nonstop power shots until he falls apart.

It’s unfortunate that Top Rank promoter Bob Arum didn’t have Ramirez go after the WBO 140 lb. title. That’s a belt that Ramirez could have easily won and held onto for a long time. Going after the WBC belt was a mistake on Ramirez and Top Rank’s part. Prograis is perhaps the second best fighter at 140 behind Mikey Garcia. Ramirez might be No.3, but there’s a huge gulf between Prograis and Ramirez in terms of talent. Oh well, Ramirez can always go after the WBO title after he loses to Prograis. It’s just that it would have been far better for Ramirez to have gone in the path of least resistance in fighting for the WBO title, because then he would keep his unbeaten record for a long time and he wouldn’t get exposed like he’s likely going to get when he faces Prograis. I hate to say it, but I think Ramirez is going to get beaten up and destroyed just like Joel Diaz Jr. and Julius Indongo did in their fights with Prograis. Ramirez might get knocked out even faster that those guys, because he goes straight at his opponents. Prograis eats up guys that come right at him.

If Prograis beats the Top Rank promoted Ramirez in his next fight, then the boxing world will be calling for him to face Mikey Garcia if he’s still fighting at 140. That’s a big if because Mikey could move up to 147 to go after one of the champions in that weight class. Mikey will obviously end up back at 140, because he’s not likely going to be successful fighting at welterweight unless he goes after WBA ‘regular’ 147 lb. champion Lucas Matthysse. That’s a winnable fight for Mikey.

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”I told him, ‘I’m next,’” Prograis said about what he told Ramirez’s promoter Bob Arum after seeing him at the end of the Ramirez-Imam fight last Saturday. ”I said, ‘Look, Bob, I’m next. You want to do that fight?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, we’ll see what they’re going to do.’ It was a good interaction with Bob. He didn’t really know who I was. When I told him who I was, the media told him, ‘That’s the interim champion, that’s who he’s [Ramirez] fighting next,’ he said, ‘Okay.’”

Arum’s reaction to Prograis in telling him, “We’ll see,” when told that he needs to match Ramirez against him next, it suggests that he’s not interested in making that fight. It’ll be up to the WBC to decide whether they’re going to allow Top Rank to have their fighter Ramirez sidestep Prograis for a while. It won’t matter much. Top Rank isn’t going to be able to turn Ramirez into an immediate start by steering around Prograis for one fight. What they should do is have Ramirez vacate the WBC title and then have him face the winner of the Terry Flanagan vs. Maurice Hooker fight for the WBO title. Ramirez has a much better chance of beating the winner of the Flanagan-Hooker fight than he does of defeating a talented guy like Prograis. I see Ramirez ending up getting knocked out quickly by Prograis if Top Rank lets that fight happen.

Prograis has a fighting style similar to former IBF/WBA light welterweight champion Aaron Pryor. Prograis throws nonstop power shots just like Pryor used to, and he tends to wear his opponents down quickly with his pressure. Prograis can throw with power in close or on the outside, and his jab is like a power punch. Prograis has one of the best jabs in the sport. He dropped his last opponent Julius Indongo with a jab in the 1st round of their fight on March 9. Indongo never recovered from that knockdown and was quickly stopped in the 2nd.

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