By Kenneth Friedman: Josh Taylor and Regis Prograis battled it out on Saturday night in the final of the WBSS light welterweight tourney in London, England. IBF champ Taylor came out the winner in beating WBA champion Prograis by 12 round majority decision by the scores 114-114, 115-113, and 117-112.
There wasn’t a lot of grumbling on social media after the scores were read. The boxing fans at ringside at the O2 Arena were thrilled that the 28-year-old Taylor had his hand raised, as that’s their guy were cheering throughout the contest.
Prograis will be back, but not against Taylor. A rematch between them won’t be happening for a long while. Taylor has other fish to fry.
The fight was close enough for it to go either way. A draw or a victory either way would have been fine. Although Boxing News 24 had it for Taylor, this writer saw Prograis edging it based on his late rally.
It was a good fight and quite entertaining from start to finish. The crowd was firmly on Taylor’s side, which isn’t surprising given that he’s from Scotland, and Prograis from the U.S.
The win for Taylor (16-0, 12 KOs) gave him the Muhammad Ali Trophy, which is given the winners of the World Boxing Super Series tournament.
Where Prograis made a mistake is he didn’t fight hard enough 3 through 7. He let Taylor be the aggressor and throw more punches. In between rounds, Prograis’ corner wasn’t lighting a fire under his backside to let him know that he wasn’t fighting hard enough. He was throwing too many jabs, single punches, and backing up entirely too much.
The fight was lost by Prograis not showing tenacity he needed do in rounds 3 through 7. Although Prograis did come back in the championship rounds, it wasn’t enough to win over the judges. Prograis did come back in rounds 10 through 12, but he needed to do more earlier in the contest.
Prograis procrastinated when he should have been fighting tooth and nail. You have to blame Prograis and his corner for the loss. His corner should have lit a fire under him to let him know that he was blowing it by not fighting hard enough early on.
“It was a close fight, the better man won tonight so it’s cool,” said Prograis. “I thought it was pretty even until the last three rounds, thank y’all England, I’ll be back. I enjoyed that, I’m sure he did too. Hopefully, we do a part two.”
Prograis was too calm afterwards in being interviewed. When he said he thought it was an even fight, he didn’t look or sound believable.
The referee let Taylor get away with a lot of hitting after the bell. On four occasions in the fight, Taylor hit Prograis after the round had ended. Doing that once or twice is tolerable, but when it’s 4 times, a point should have been deducted.
“He was very good, very strong. Very good head movement, very good timing,” Taylor said. “He lives up to his name. He exceeds his reputation with his power, definitely. He has great timing. Respect to him.”
Taylor’s right eye was swollen up, and he looked like he’d taken a beating.
Prograis failed to make adjustments early on when it was patently obvious that Taylor was the better inside fighter. His corner should have told him to stay on the outside, and not fight Taylor in close. Prograis was getting worked over in close, and he wasn’t able to let his hands go enough.
Being economical while on the inside against a busy fighter like Taylor was Prograis’ downfall. His trainer should have told him in strong language to keep the fight as far on the outside as possible. Taylor was doing a number on Prograis at close to medium distance, and he didn’t have the work rate to win from that range.
After the fight a lot of boxing fans on social media started calling for Taylor to move up to welterweight to take on WBO champion Terence Crawford. That fight obviously isn’t going to happen. The guy that Taylor wants is WBC/WBO light welterweight champion Jose Ramirez. He’s beatable, but not Crawford. that fight will likely never happen. Taylor is a good fighter, but not that good.