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Regis Prograis defends against Juan Velasco this Sat.

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By Jim Dower: WBC interim light welterweight champion Regis “Rougarou” Prograis (21-0, 18 KOs) will be looking to shine on Saturday night in defending against Juan Jose Velasco (20-0, 12 KOs) at the Lakefront Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana. Prograis-Velasco will be televised on ESPN and ESPN Deportes. The start time is at 7:00 p.m. Although Velasco and Prograis are both unbeaten, there’s a vast difference between the two in the talent department. Prograis is the much better fighter of the two.

Prograis’ opponent Velasco feels that he has no pressure on him in this fight because he’s expected to lose. The one with the pressure on him is Prograis because he needs to look good due to the praise that has been given to him recently by the boxing public. With former unified light welterweight champion Terence Crawford having moved up in weight to the 147 lb. weight class, Prograis is now considered the best fighter in the light welterweight division by many fans by default. Prograis still hasn’t proven that he’s the best, but he’s about to do so when he starts competing in the WBSS tournament.

This is a stay busy fight for the 29-year-old Prograis to get him ready to enter the World Boxing Super Series 140 lb. tournament, which he’s expected to win with flying colors. Velasco, 32, will try his best obviously to give Prograis his first career loss, but it’s unlikely to happen. Velasco is arguably the sacrificial lamb for Prograis to slaughter in style before he enters the WBSS tournament. Prograis wanted to fight WBC light welterweight champion Jose Carlos Ramirez, but Top Rank wasn’t ready to let that fight take place in a hurry. They wanted to let it build by having Prograis fight on the undercard of Ramirez’s first title defense. There wasn’t enough time for Prograis to fight on Ramirez’s undercard and then take part in the WBSS tournament. So instead of agreeing to fight on Ramirez’ undercard, Prograis will be headlining his own card this Saturday night against what will likely be a badly over-matched Velasco.

“I’m not going to say I go in looking for the knockout, but I go in to try and hurt my opponent,” Prograis said via Fight News. ”Boxing is a brutal sport, and that’s how it’s supposed to be. I feel like I’m a killer. Of course, I’m nice. I can smile with ya’ll, but when I get in there, I’m a killer.”

Prograis is a very good finisher when he has his opponents hurt, as we saw in his last fight against former IBF/WBA 140 lb. champion Julius Indongo last March. Prograis stopped Indongo in the 2nd round to capture the interim World Boxing Council light welterweight title. Regis doesn’t always try and knock his guys out, but the stoppages happen just the same due to his punching power. He looks like he’s not even trying to hurt his opponents. Prograis’ power and timing are such that it makes it difficult for his opponents to hang in there with him for any length of time before they fold up. It’s been three years since the last fighter that was able to go the full route against Prograis in Amos Cowart, who tried awfully hard to win despite taking terrible punishment in their eight round fights. With the way that Prograis battered Cowart, there’s no doubt that he wouldn’t have lasted 12 rounds if the fight had been a longer one. Either Cowart would have folded or the referee would have had to step in to stop the contest to protect him because he was taking a real beating in there.

”When I hit somebody and I know they’re hurt, then I know I got them,” Prograis said. ”My whole thing is if I hit them and I see some type of weakness in their body, or I see something going, then I know automatically I got them. It’s over.”

Prograis has knocked out these guys in his last six fights: Julius Indongo, Joel Diaz Jr., Wilfrido Buelvas, Luis Eduardo Florez, Aaron Herrera and Abel Ramos. Diaz Jr. (23-1, 19 KOs) came ino the fight with Prograis with an unbeaten record and a high KO percentage. However, Diaz Jr. made the mistake of trying to slug with Prograis and he found out the hard way that it was the wrong thing to do in hier fight last year in June. Prograis knocked Diaz down four ties in round two before the fight was finally stopped. Diaz Jr. hasn’t fought since then. Prograis’ quick knockout of Diaz Jr. and Indongo showed how powerful he is. It would be a mistake for any fighter in the division to try and punch with the Louisiana native because he’s too good of a knockout artist for anyone to mix it up with him and expect to come out ahead.

“The pressure is not an issue for me. The pressure is on Regis,” Velasco said. ”I’m not expected to do much, which is fine by me. I’ll prove the experts wrong. I feel like everyone is pulling for him, that it’s a gimme fight for Regis. Everyone can talk, but on Saturday, he’ll have to fight,” Velasco said.

It doesn’t matter if Velasco isn’t feeling any pressure on him in this fight, he’s going to be under a load of pressure when Prograis starts attacking him on Saturday night with his power shots. Velasco will feel pressure and he’ll need to perform at a higher level than he’s ever shown before if he doesn’t want to get knocked out quickly by him. Velasco’s opposition during his four-year pro career has been woeful. This fight on Saturday will be Velasco’s first test against a top tier opponent, and that’s not a good thing. He should have already started fighting world class fighters a long time ago to get him ready for guys like Prograis, but unfortunately that hasn’t happened. Velasco is going to need to come up with a good game plan for him to survive against Prograis because this fight has mismatch written all over it.

In the undercard this Saturday, undefeated lightweight Teofimo Lopez (9-0, 7 KOs) faces William Silva (25-1, 14 KOs) in a battle for the vacant WBC Continental Americas lightweight strap in the co-feature bout.

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