By Barry Holbrook: Tyrone McKenna wants to drag Regis Prograis into the trenches tonight in their 10-round WBC light welterweight title eliminator at the Duty-Free Tennis Stadium in Dubai.
McKenna (22-2-1, 6 KOs) is getting a chance to face the well-known former WBA 140-lb champion Prograis (26-1, 22 KOs) in a contest that will lead to fighting for the WBC world title later this year against #2 Jose Zepeda.
To be sure, McKenna, 32, is the underdog in this fight tonight, but he believes he can beat the ring-rusty former WBA champion Prograis by turning it into a dog-fight on the inside in the same way that Josh Taylor did to defeat him in 2019.
Taylor exposed Prograis’s lack of an inside game in their fight and built up a big lead in the contest’s first half before he rallied a little in the second half to make it close.
Whatever the fighter that Prograis was years ago, it’s fair to say he’s no longer at that level. The problem is that Prograis is no longer an active fighter since his loss to Taylor, fighting only two times since 2019, beating lower-level opposition.
Prograis wanted this fight against the #17 ranked WBC contender McKenna, a move that some boxing fans feel was initiated due to his lack of self-confidence.
Five levels,” said Prograis to Probellum when asked if he thinks he’s a level above McKenna. “I’m too fast, too strong. Nope, I don’t overlook nobody,” said Prograis when asked if he’s looking past the 32-year-old McKenna. “Right now, it’s the year of the upsets,” said Regis.
On paper, Prograis is the better fighter than McKenna, or at least when he was active with his career between 2012 and 2019. But since 2019, Prograis has fought twice, beating Ivan Redkach and Juan Heraldez.
Prograis should have fought nine times during those three years if he wanted to quickly get a rematch with Josh Taylor to try and win back his lost WBA 140lb title, but he seemed to lack the ambition & drive to go back to work the way he needed to.
Was it laziness or a lack of confidence on Prograis’s part that prevented him from staying active to get another title shot?
Whatever the case, Prograis has wasted three years, and here is now fighting a hand-picked opponent in McKenna, who isn’t ranked in the top 15 by the WBC. Why did Prograis choose McKenna rather than a top-tier opponent to fight? It’s pretty obvious. Only he knows for sure.
“He’s fought only three times in the last three years, so he needs to put out a statement to show he’s still a big name,” said McKenna about Prograis. “There’s a lot of pressure on him. There’s no pressure on me.”
“Yes, I’m definitely under pressure, and that’s why I train. I’m not stressed out at all.”
“You look tired and stressed,” said a relaxed-looking McKenna, pointing out how nervous Prograis appeared during their one-on-one.
“For me, I want to be champion again, and he’s in my way,” said Prograis.
“I listen to my coach and follow orders. If he says, ‘Attack,’ I’ll attack. If he says, ‘Defend,’ I’ll defend. If he says, ‘Go to war,’ I’ll do what he says,” McKenna said when asked how he’ll beat Prograis.
“100%,” said McKenna when asked if he can out-fight Prograis. “That’s what I love to do. I love having blood all over my face, being in the trenches in a war,” said Tyrone.
If Prograis loses this fight tonight, he might as well pack it in and retire because he never makes it back to the top. There are better fighters than McKenna at 140, much better.
Losing to McKenna would be a clear sign that it’s over for Prograis, and that doesn’t have it anymore.
In the main event tonight, WBA flyweight champion Sunny Edwards will be defending against Muhammad Waseem in a 12 round clash. It should be an exciting contest.