The elastic promise of future potential will always outweigh the concrete truths of our present. In life, and most certainly in boxing, we spend so much time wondering what will be that we forget to appreciate what is. This guy could be a contender. He might be a champion. Possibly even a pound for pound star.
Lost in the hypothetical, however, is approbation for reality. Unfortunately, due to the drunk-college-kid-putting-together-IKEA-furniture-blindfolded assembly of our brains, the defined nature of now doesn’t stand a chance against the unspecified dreams of what if.
For New Orleans native Regis “Rougarou” Prograis (24-0, 20 KO), all the superlatives being foisted upon him may one day hold true. He very well may become a pound for pound stalwart and pay per view star. He may also become a burnt out gatekeeper with nothing but a closet full of Walgreen’s Werewolf masks to show for it.
But to focus too much on either outcome would do a disservice to what he is right now and that’s simply one of the most complete fighters in the game at the most exciting stage of his career.
When the junior welterweight incarnation of the World Boxing Super Series was announced last fall, there’s a reason Prograis was considered the favorite. He had risen through the 140-pound ranks with relative ease and shown explosive punching power against sturdy, experienced fighters. An emphatic decision win over sturdy UK native Terry Flanagan (33-2, 13 KO) in the quarterfinals further cemented his standing has the tournament’s number one seed.
Standing in his way to a trip to the finals was tough-as-Adrien-Broner’s-Dad’s-arteries Kiryl Relikh (23-3, 19 KO) of Belarus. An exceptionally talented fighter himself –though one with decidedly less flare than Regis Prograis– Relikh hoped to expose the hometown fighter as a one-dimensional house of cards.
Hope, especially the misguided kind, can be a dangerous thing for a prizefighter.
Prograis takes his Rougarou nickname from a mythical wolf monster who stalks the Louisiana bayou eating children and murdering Catholics who don’t follow Lent. Seriously, look it up. Beyond my theory that being mistaken for a blasphemous child by the Rougarou is how Verne Troyer really died, it’s quite an imposing ring moniker. On Saturday night at the Cajun Dome in Lafayette, Louisiana on DAZN, we would find out if the kidnapping swamp wolf would find its way indoors.
From the opening bell, it was clear that the southpaw Prograis would not need a feeling out period for Kiryl Relikh. He thrashed the Belarusian with stiff jabs and hooks to the body, the last of which forced his opponent to take a knee just before the end of the round.
The second and third rounds saw more of the same as Prograis continued targeting Relikh’s body while mixing in straight lefts to the head for good measure. If Kiryl Relikh had a plan to counter the liver shots he was absorbing, he barely had time to implement it before a new, bigger problem arose in the form of a gaping wound on the bridge of his nose that made him look like he was testing out scratch-n-sniff tampons in the backstage area at Lilith Fair.
As the rounds progressed and Prograis’ output increased the look of doubt on the face of Relikh and his corner told the story. The impending stoppage was inevitable, the only question being when and how. At one minute and thirty-six seconds of the sixth round, we got our answer in the form of a perfectly timed stoppage by referee Luis Pabon.
It was total domination from Prograis, who now awaits the winner of Josh Taylor and Ivan Baranchik on May 18th to find out who he’ll face in the WBSS finals. His footwork, head movement and defensive prowess were every bit as exceptional as his vaunted punching power. It remains to be seen if Relikh was the perfect opponent to showcase his skills or if Prograis really is as complete a fighter as he appears to be.
He’s not a household name yet. Hell, he’s not even the most famous Regis P. in the world. But for once, let’s put our expectations for the future aside and appreciate what we have in front of us right now.
Regis Prograis. The Walgreen’s Mask Wolf Monster of the 140 pound division.