The old boxing clichés have been out in full force this Weekend, as we look ahead to a big night of Prize-fighter action at London’s O2 Arena, headlined by the WBC Diamond & WBA Super Lightweight champion Regis Prograis (24-0, 20KOs) and Scotland’s Josh Taylor (15-0, 12KOs) who holds the IBF version.
Whether you see it as a ‘A genuine 50/50’ or a ‘tough-to-call fight’ there is no doubt it has all the marking to be a genuine ‘Fight of the Year contender’.
Both fighters are talented, have bright futures and are arguably the best two in the division, which is something we do not see very often in modern day boxing. How many times have we seen fights collapse due to disagreements between Promoters, rival television networks and the fighters themselves – Too many..
Fight was almost derailed…
That’s not to say that this fight hasn’t had its fair share of problems. Originally scheduled for October 5 but delayed due to a breach of contract, leading to Prograis temporarily withdrawing from the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) before filling a lawsuit against WBSS & Comosa AG, the tournament’s financial backer.
Josh used this dispute as ammo during the ‘Gloves are off’ preview show;
“[He was] trying to pull out because he didn’t wanna come over here.”
“Now I’m gonna fight you, and I always knew I was gonna fight him. Like, it wasn’t about if I’m gonna fight [Taylor]. It was always about when I’m gonna fight him.”
Thankfully, the disagreement was resolved and is now topping the bill of a strong card including Burns-Selby, Chisora-Price and Okolie-Ngabu, plus more on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and DAZN in the US.
When trying to pick a winner, there really is nothing between them. Both are southpaws, have over 80% knockout ratios and are ranked No.2 & 3 in the world by Boxrec, sitting just behind the unified WBO and WBC champion Jose Carlos Ramirez.
Josh Taylor has the slightly better-looking combined opponent record of 258-67-14 compared to Prograis’ 362-199-17. The ‘Tartan Tornado’ has arguably fought the better opponents in domestic rival Ohara Davies, former IBF champion Miguel Vazquez, the experienced Viktor Postol and the solid Belarusian Ivan Baranchyk, in his last outing.
In all of those victories the young Scott has showed versatility by adjusting his style, whether that be fighting on the front foot or using his height & reach by boxing at range while popping off that solid jab.
Regis Prograis has a similar record although it’s taken him a little longer to take that step-up in quality. Victories over undisputed lightweight challenger Julius Indongo, former WBO lightweight holder Terry Flanagan and his recent stoppage over Kiryl Relikh in 6-rounds has showcased the New Orleans-native’s versatile armoury. The 30-year-old has disposed of all his opponents in impressive fashion with a calm and patient approach. ‘Rougarou’ very rarely wastes his punches, and when he does let his hands go, he is accurate and spiteful while using a variety of angles.
Odds & Boxing first…
The American is the slight betting favourite by the bookies with the draw around the 20/1 mark which is by no means out of the question. In the event of a draw we will have a boxing first with the countback rule coming into play if the judges are unable to separate the fighters.
In the event of this coming to fruition, the winner of the Muhammed Ali trophy and $10 million will be decided by who won the last round. If the 12th and final round was also scored a draw, then the countback will continue to the 11th round and so on. Both fighters will keep hold of their current titles and the ring magazine belt will remain vacant.
Where a case can be made for one, there is another for the other. Taylor has an advantage in height and reach by only a couple of inches and is 2-years younger whereas, Prograis has fought 20 more rounds and has more knockouts then Taylor has had fights. The speed is with Taylor so he should try to keep it at distance but Prograis is the better counterpuncher who can slip the jab and work the head and body in close quarters. Both are ring savvy and have the ability to adapt their styles at any time during the fight.
The early exchanges should be cagy as either fighter has the power to knock the other guy out. This fight will be decided by slight margins so whoever is marginally out of sync will pay the price. The cornermen could make all the difference with the experienced Bobby Benton in the Americans corner and Shane McGuigan in Taylor’s.
Could home advantage decide the outcome with recent sketchy judging recently or maybe it could come down to which fighter boils down to the weight better. Maybe the pro-Taylor crowd could unsettle Prograis but chances are the latter is a long shot, as any person that can take a positive from hurricane Katrina clearly has a strong mindset and there’s no doubt the American has that in abundance.
Going back to the old boxing clichés it really is ‘too tight to call’ as this fight can go either way and all predictions are plausible. It will be tight, gripping, entertaining and it will have its moments of class personified.
Josh Taylor to win by split decision – both fighters will taste the canvas in a contender for fight of the year.
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