After days, weeks, even months of speculation, disagreements and doubts about the when, where and even if Regis Prograis would be fighting for the WBA super lightweight championship in the World Boxing Super Series semifinals, not to mention what happens next, the New Orleans native is within two weeks of his bout against titleholder Kiryl Relikh on April 27 in the Cajundome in Lafayette.
And if all the distractions were ever a problem, Prograis isn’t acknowledging it.
“Sometimes there are things you just can’t control,” Prograis (23-0, 19 KOs) said Tuesday in a teleconference from Houston, his home training base. “Other people had to handle their stuff and I had to handle my stuff.
“I love going to training camp. My job is to fight, stay out of the political side of things.”
In actuality, the WBSS, which is staging eight-man tournaments in the 140-pound, bantamweight and cruiserweight was supposed to be over by now, or at least the end figured to be near.
It was a major reason Prograis, ranked No. 1 worldwide among super lightweights by Ring Magazine despite not holding any of the four recognized world championships, entered the tournament — a chance to win two world titles in less than a year before presumably moving on to even bigger and better things.
But after the quarterfinals, which included Prograis scoring a unanimous decision against Terry Flanagan at Lakefront Arena in New Orleans in October, financial complaints by some of the participants pushed the semifinals from six worldwide sites in February and March to three doubleheaders over three months, including a bantamweight title unification bout between Nonito Donaire and Zolani Tete in the Cajundome to go with Prograis-Relikh.
There has been no announcement on the date, location or format of the championship fights.
Showing increasing control over his career despite high-powered connections in Los Angeles-based Churchill Management and promoter Lou DiBella plus his “I’m just the fighter” pronouncements, Prograis pushed for the earliest possible date against Relikh (23-2, 19 KO), a native of Belarus who won the WBA title with a decision over Rances Barthelemy in March of last year and decisioned Eduard Troyanovsky in his WBSS quarterfinal.
The chance to fight for a title immediately was the determining factor in Prograis staying in the tournament.
Prograis also wanted to fight again in New Orleans, but poor attendance at Lakefront in his quarterfinal and a conflict with JazzFest led to the compromise site of Lafayette although some in his camp had pushed for more-recognized boxing centers such as Atlantic City or Las Vegas or possibly Glasgow, Scotland, where the other super lightweight semifinal — IBF champion Ivan Baranchyk against Josh Taylor, is scheduled for May 17, providing a legal dispute between Baranchyk and the WBSS is resolved.
But Prograis is concentrating on the now rather than the future, including making next week’s show a success.
“I’m getting involved in marketing and stuff like that,” he said. “If the promoters are not marketing things the way I want it to go, I’ll do it myself.
“Sometimes if you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself.”
That includes coming to Lafayette last month to push the fight and making several other media appearances while the reclusive Relikh, who speaks little English and doesn’t enjoy the spotlight like Prograis, has remained at his Miami training base.
“That’s OK,” said Prograis, who will be actively pushing for late ticket sales next week once he and the other fighters arrive in Lafayette. “I’ve got the biggest and probably toughest fight of my life coming up, but he’s going to do his thing and I’m going to do mine.
“Doing all of that other stuff has never taken away from my performance before. But if it does bother me, I’ll cut back.”
After all, there’s a world championship at stake.