It wasn’t his best showing, but Regis Prograis has successfully defended his title…
The 34-year-old half-Hispanic American boxer successfully defended his WBC junior welterweight title by defeating Danielito Zorrilla by split decision on Saturday night at the Smoothie King Center.
Prograis (29-1, 25 KO) was honest about his performance and felt he could have put on a better show for the local crowd.
“My performance was s—. I can admit to myself it wasn’t a good performance,” Prograis said. “The last two days, I felt the hometown jitters. The hometown fights, they are the worst. I felt it going into it yesterday into today. I got the job done. I kept the belt. I’m happy about that, but I’m definitely not happy about my performance.”
Zorrilla (17-2, 13 KO) took the fight on less than a month’s notice as he was a late replacement for undefeated Australian fighter Liam Paro, who pulled out of the bout with an injury.
Following the fight, Prograis sat with Matchroom boxing promoter Eddie Hearn as the two spoke with reporters about what options could be next at 140 pounds. Bill Haney, Devin Haney‘s father, was in attendance on Saturday but Hearn said there are plenty of options for Prograis’ next fight.
Hearn mentioned Haney, Teofimo Lopez and Gervonta Davis as all great fights that could be made for Prograis.
“For me, it’s up to Regis,” Hearn said. “I mean, I think the great thing about tonight is there’s going to be a lot of people queuing up to fight. I’ve not heard any of those big names mention Regis’ name before tonight, other than Devin. But now I think you’re going to see people actually target Regis Prograis that he might be beatable now.
“Which we know, there’s a completely different performance to come from Regis Prograis. I think that’s the one thing that I’m happy about and I believe Devin wants that fight.”
It was the first successful title defense of Prograis’ career. After winning the WBA title at 140 pounds from Kiryl Relikh in 2019, Prograis dropped the belt in a majority decision to Josh Taylor later that year. It remains the only loss of his career.
This time, Prograis defended his crown.
In the third round, Prograis dropped Zorrilla with a left hand and started to build on that momentum the rest of the fight. However, that quickly went away as the two danced and plotted on each other for the remainder of the fight.
“He came to survive,” Prograis said about Zorrilla. “He didn’t want to get knocked out. He came to survive. I was chasing him. I just had to chase him for 12 rounds.”
Prograis went to the mat three times but none were ruled knockdowns by referee Ray Corona. In the first round, Zorrilla stunned Prograis with a right knocking him off balance, and both men went to the ground as Prograis tried to clutch with Zorrilla falling into the champion. However, it was ruled as a push. In the 10th round, Prograis’ fall was called a slip and then he again touched the mat in the 12th on a push.
He admitted after the fight that he felt the first-round fall didn’t feel like a knockdown in the moment but looking back at the replay, it could have been.
This was the first major championship fight inside the Smoothie King Center since 2000 when undisputed light heavyweight champion Roy Jones Jr. defeated Eric Harding at what was then called New Orleans Arena (Derrick Gainer also defeated Freddie Norwood for the WBA featherweight title on the same card).
It was the third card that Prograis has headlined in New Orleans. His previous two fights were at the Lakefront Arena on the campus of the University of New Orleans.
New Orleans rap duo Fresh X Reckless performed during Prograis’ walk as he put his own flair on the entrance with a 10-foot Rougarou — Prograis’ nickname and a werewolf-like monster from local folklore — following him.
However, because of those “hometown jitters” Prograis mentioned, there’s a good chance his next fight won’t be in the city.
“I don’t think next time,” Prograis said. “We’ll probably go on the road and then come back here down the line. But not next fight.”
Hearn said there are opportunities for Prograis that could be in Las Vegas or the Middle East for his next fight.