Regis Prograis never got the sense that Top Rank could deliver the fights he wanted the most involving fighters under its own banner.
The uncertainty surrounding the future of some of the promotional company’s top 140-pound fighters apparently helped convince Prograis to sign a deal with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom.
In a recent interview, the WBC junior welterweight champion from New Orleans explained why he chose to link up with Matchroom, despite the fact that he has long called out the fighters associated with Top Rank, including Jose Ramirez, Josh Taylor, and Teofimo Lopez.
Prograis’ decision drew criticism in some circles because Matchroom’s offerings at 140 are far less robust and appealing, at least on paper, than Top Rank’s.
But Prograis pointed out that he had sufficient cause to believe that signing with Top Rank would not necessarily have led to the fights that he clamored for the most. Prograis said he believes Ramirez has one fight left on his contract with Top Rank and that Lopez’s future with the company was murky after he recently said, during a controversial rant, that his upcoming fight with Taylor on June 10 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City would be his last appearance on ESPN. (Top Rank has an exclusive content output arrangement with ESPN.) Prograis also said that he has received indication that Taylor could look to move up to welterweight sooner rather than later.
“First off, Top Rank offered me a longer contract, and Matchroom offered me a shorter contract,” Prograis told Ringside Views. “The fighters I want to fight at Top Rank are Ramirez, Josh Taylor, Teo, right? If you look at Ramirez, from what I understand, Ramirez has one more fight at Top Rank. So, would I be guaranteed him? I don’t know.
“Honestly, I don’t think Ramirez will ever fight me. I really just don’t. Ramirez has one fight. He might go to Matchroom. If I go to Matchroom, Ramirez might stay at Top Rank. Ramirez, this is his last fight. Teo already said he not going to ESPN no more. This might be his last fight at Top Rank, and Josh Taylor might go to 147. So alright then, who am I left with at Top Rank?
“Over on the Matchroom side, I just feel like Eddie—all those fights I named, Eddie can work with those promoters. He can get them. He can definitely still make those fights happen.”
Prograis is hoping that Hearn can deliver a fight for him involving either Ryan Garcia or IBF 140-pound titlist Subriel Matias.
“It’s a three-fight deal [with Matchroom] and then we’re trying to get Matias,” Prograis said. “Matias has a belt. I do want a unification. Either fight him or Ryan Garcia.”
Prograis, who lives in Houston, Texas, is set to defend his WBC title against Australia’s Liam Paro June 17 at Smoothie King Center in Prograis’ hometown of New Orleans.
Sean Nam is the author of the forthcoming book Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing