JOSH TAYLOR V REGIS PROGRAIS - FIGHT OF THE YEAR
Updated: Feb 26
The World Boxing Super Series, or WBSS, has been a breath of fresh air for all those involved in the boxing industry. Introduced by Richard Schaefer and Kalle Sauerland in September 2017 it has seen five eight-man tournaments at four different weight classes and has crowned Callum Smith as WBA Super Middleweight champion, Naoya Inoue as unified Super Bantamweight champ and has seen Oleksandr Usyk unify the Cruiserweight division it has seen the best fight the best which is all boxing really wants and needs.
This year the tournament centered in on the Super Lightweight division, a division which has seen such great champions as Wilfred Benitez, Aaron Pryor, Kostya Tszyu, Ricky Hatton and Floyd Mayweather. Eight world class fighters entered the tournament but after the semifinals only two would be left standing. Scotland's IBF champion Josh Taylor (15-0 KO 12) and America’s WBA champion Regis Prograis (24-0 KO 20). Taylor had beaten Ryan Martin by 7th round TKO in the opening round of the tournament and had then came through a grueling contest against unbeaten IBF champion Ivan Baranchyk to set up a final showdown with Prograis. Regis on the other hand had beaten former WBO king Terry Flanagan via unanimous decision to begin his tournament before relieving WBA champion Kiryl Relikh of his crown in the semifinals to set up one of the most anticipated clashes of the year.
The stage was set, Josh Taylor unbeaten IBF champion facing off against Regis Prograis unbeaten WBA champion for the Muhammed Ali trophy, this could not disappoint. The buildup was intense, both men promised knockouts and career defining performances. Who could handle the pressure? Who would take the next step onto a P4P level? The date was set, October 26th, Taylor vs Prograis, Sky Sports box office, this had all the makings to be special. And be special it would.
On the night, nobody could split them, everybody was torn. How would Taylor take the power of the American? Could Prograis deal with the crowd on away soil? How would Taylor deal with the speed of Prograis? Could Prograis deal with Taylors height and reach advantage? These questions would all be answered in due course. There was tension in the O2, nobody really knew what expect, Prograis entered first and looked calm in the face of the Taylor fanbase. Taylor entered second and looked laser focus in the face of the biggest pressure he would feel in his professional career to date.
The early goings were cagey, Taylor used forward pressure with his feet and had Prograis backing up. Regis to his credit did just run away, he used head movement and countered Taylor at every turn and landed some beautiful shots in the early goings. It was already warming up to be a classic. Both men took punishment, crunching body shots, stinging uppercuts, rifling straights, every punch in the book was being used and both men were showing why they were fighting to be The Ring magazine champion and why so many people were looking forward to this clash.
By the mid-way point the fight was in the balance. Prograis was fast, Taylor was technical, the styles mashed perfectly. But, after a bright start from the Houston man the tartan tornado was begging to have more and more success. He was constantly forcing Prograis back and was getting through with combinations more and more consistently, this wasn’t to say Prograis wasn’t having his moments, he certainly was, his movement was still getting him out of trouble. However, by the sixth round his nose had started to bleed and by the ninth is was oozing blood.
As we approached the championship rounds Prograis started to find his groove again and was landing scything uppercuts to the IBF champions chin and midsection. Taylors right eye had swollen shut and by the end of the 12thand final round both men stood and traded. The final bell sounded and both men threw their arms up in celebration. Both men were bloodied and bruised but both had covered themselves in glory, silencing the doubters who claimed their unification bout did not justify PPV.
The scorecards were read out, 114-114 a draw, 115-113 and 117-112 in favor of the winner and now the unified IBF and WBA Super Lightweight champion of the world...The fighting pride of Scotland Josh Taylor.
The Scotsman sank to his knees at the decision.
But the real result was the fact that there were no losers in this one, both men had given a spectacle and both men had come in to throw punches and show why they were the number one in the division and both men had earned the respect of the boxing world. Taylor credited Prograis and even arranged to go for a ‘pint’ with the American, Prograis to his credit was humble in defeat congratulation the new unified champ and suggesting that a rematch was high on his agenda.
The takeaway from this brilliant yet brutal display of guts and glory from these two warriors was the fact that when the eyes of the world zoned in once again the WBSS had delivered, they had once again delivered a spectacle of the best vs the best in a time when fans have been deprived of such spectacles like Deontay Wilder vs Anthony Joshua and Errol Spence vs Terence Crawford, the WBSS had come to boxing fans aid. And we should be forever thankful.