Jose Zepeda immediately dismantled the last southpaw he fought.
Zepeda, also a left-handed fighter, drilled previously unbeaten Josue Vargas with a short, destructive left hand in an exchange that knocked Vargas flat on his face just 1:10 into their 10-round main event nearly 13 months ago at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York. Vargas got up, but Zepeda pounced on his vulnerable opponent, unloaded a barrage of power punches that left Vargas slumped in a corner and won by first-round technical knockout.
Regis Prograis, a powerful southpaw himself, paid little attention to Zepeda’s impressive victory over Vargas while he prepared for their 12-round, 140-pound championship match Saturday night in Carson, California.
“I’m not Josue Vargas, nowhere close,” Prograis told BoxingScene.com. “That wasn’t nothing really to see. He stopped him. He stopped him quick, and that’s it. They had a real good game plan and he went out there and stopped him real quick. But Josue Vargas is not me, nowhere close to being me.”
Most handicappers have installed Prograis as an approximate 4-1 favorite to defeat Zepeda in their fight for the unclaimed WBC super lightweight title Scotland’s Josh Taylor (19-0, 13 KOs) gave up earlier this year. The bout between the number one-ranked Zepeda (36-2, 28 KOs, 2 NC), of La Puente, California, and the second-rated Prograis (27-1, 23 KOs), of Katy, Texas, will be the main event of a four-fight pay-per-view show at Dignity Health Sports Park (9 p.m. ET; 6 p.m. PT; $59.99).
Zepeda, 33, has lost only a 12-round majority decision to then-unbeaten WBC 140-pound champ Jose Ramirez (27-1, 17 KOs) since a separated shoulder caused him to lose by second-round technical knockout to England’s Terry Flanagan, who also was undefeated at that time. Prograis is confident, though, that he’ll become the first fighter to convincingly beat Zepeda.
“I just feel like superior to him on all levels,” Prograis said. “I’m not really worried about what he brings. Sparring has been going real good. I’ve been sparring with bigger dudes and smaller guys that’s faster, as well as guys that’s stronger. Everything’s just been going real smooth for me. I’ve been doing real good in sparring. For me, no matter what he brings, I’ll have the answer for it, no matter what. So, I’m not really expecting nothing from him.”
Three of Prograis’ past four fights have come against southpaws.
The New Orleans native stopped two of those left-handed opponents. The other southpaw Prograis faced during that stretch was Taylor, who topped Prograis by majority decision in their 12-round, 140-pound championship unification fight in October 2019 at O2 Arena in London.
The 33-year-old Prograis predicted only that he’ll emerge victorious against Zepeda, not how.
“The thing is, with us in boxing, in your head you replay the fight a million times,” Prograis said, “and you feel like, ‘Oh, it’s gonna go like this. It’s gonna happen like this.’ But it never, ever goes the way you think it’s gonna happen. So, now I kinda wanna get out of that mind frame of, ‘I expect this. I expect that.’ Nah, you know, I’m doing me in the gym, I’ve been training real hard and whatever he brings, I’m gonna have the answer for it and I’ll be victorious.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.