Josh Taylor considers Regis Prograis the second-best fighter in the 140-pound division.
The unbeaten WBO junior welterweight champion would welcome a rematch with Prograis at some point. The Scottish southpaw just can’t understand why Prograis didn’t sign with Taylor’s promoter, Top Rank Inc., if Prograis expects an opportunity to avenge his lone loss sooner than later.
If the slightly favored Taylor (19-0, 13 KOs) defeats Teofimo Lopez (18-1, 13 KOs) on Saturday night in New York and Prograis would’ve won his first fight with Top Rank, the company’s founder, Bob Arum, was willing to make a Taylor-Prograis rematch later this year. Prograis instead signed a three-fight contract with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing last month.
“I don’t care what Prograis does,” Taylor told BoxingScene.com. “He’s got his own path, he’s got his own mind and he’s made his own decision. But if he’s saying he wants that fight, I mean, the easiest thing would’ve been to go with Top Rank and fight me self because it would’ve been an in-house fight and it would’ve been easy to make, really simple to make. So, yeah, I don’t know what his logic is behind that, but I don’t really care.”
DAZN will stream the first fight of the 34-year-old Prograis’ new deal with Matchroom on June 17. The strong southpaw will make his first defense of the WBC super lightweight title against Puerto Rico’s Danielito Zorrilla (17-1, 13 KOs) at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Prograis’ hometown.
The 32-year-old Taylor still views himself as the undisputed 140-pound champion, but Prograis (28-1, 24 KOs) won one of the three belts Taylor relinquished in 2022 in his last fight. Prograis knocked out Jose Zepeda (36-3, 27 KOs, 2 NC) in the 11th round of that bout, which took place November 26 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
“I’d say the second-best [in the 140-pound division] is probably Prograis,” Taylor said. “He is definitely a good fighter. You know, him and I had a great fight, the last one, together. You know, and I think there’s a great appetite for a rematch for that one as well. I think he’s a good fighter. You know, he’s a solid fighter and I think that would be a great rematch at some point as well. I think that’s another big fight for me at 140.”
Taylor topped Prograis by majority decision in their 12-round title unification fight in October 2019. He retained the IBF junior welterweight title that night and took the WBA super lightweight championship from Prograis by winning a closely contested “World Boxing Super Series” 140-pound final at O2 Arena in London.
With an eye on redemption, Prograis hopes Taylor defeats Lopez, a former unified lightweight champion, in a 12-round main event ESPN will televise Saturday night from The Theater at Madison Square Garden (10 p.m. EDT; 7 p.m. PDT).
“I would rather Josh Taylor win than Teo,” Prograis told BoxingScene.com. “Hopefully, he can stay around at 140 and then me and him can fight again. … I feel like Eddie still can make that happen. And that still can happen after this contract [with Matchroom] is over. I mean, the thing with Eddie is I know a lotta promoters have big egos and they don’t like to work with other promoters.
“But Eddie, it just look like he just loves boxing. If I say, ‘Eddie, I want the Josh Taylor fight. Can you call Bob Arum or call Todd duBoef and let’s make the Josh Taylor fight, I feel like Eddie would try to make that happen. And even if that can’t happen, my deal with him is only three fights.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.