Regis Prograis is going Hollywood.
Right after he goes Glasgow.
The New Orleans-born newly crowned WBA super lightweight champion is in Scotland to attend Saturday’s World Boxing Super Series semifinal between IBF champion Ivan Baranchyk, and hometown favorite Joshua Taylor, the winner of which Prograis is to meet for the Ali Trophy sometime in the fall.
The fight card begins at 1 p.m. Saturday and airs on the streaming service, DAZN.
“I guess they’re going to introduce me before the fight and stuff like that," Prograis said. “They wanted me to bring my championship belt, but it’s off being customized.
“I don’t wear it out that much anyway.”
Prograis’ trip comes in the midst of he and his family relocating from Houston, where he has lived and trained sincehis parents were displaced by Hurricane Katrina when he was a teenager, to Los Angeles, home of Churchill Management, which handles his managerial affairs.
Producer Peter Berg and actor Mark Wahlberg are two of the principal owners of Churchill and thanks to those connections Prograis has made brief appearances in two movies.
“It seems like the perfect move for me,” Prograis said. “Peter and Mark can do so many things to take things to another level.
“The environment out there is like a steppingstone in my career.”
But first things first.
Prograis (24-0, 20 KOs) won the WBA version of the 140-pound title with a sixth-round stoppage of champion Kiryl Relikh on April 27 in Lafayette advancing him to the WBSS final against the Baranchyk-Taylor winner making it a title unification bout.
That is, if it comes off.
There’s no date or site set for the tournament final, although by contract Prograis can move on if it’s not contested by October.
Neither has it been decided if the super lightweight final will be a standalone event or combined with the bantamweight and/or cruiserweight finals, the other two WBSS divisions being contested this year.
Saturday’s card in Glasgow includes a bantamweight semifinal between WBA champion Naoya Inoue and IBF title holder Emmanuel Rodriguez, the winner of which will meet WBC champion Nonito Donaire, who won his semifinal on the Lafayette card with Prograis. The cruiserweight semis are set for June 17 in Riga, Latvia.
WBSS officials have promised a decision how things will proceed soon after the cruiserweight bouts.
Lou DiBella, Prograis’ promoter who is also a co-promoter of Baranchyk, said that despite the financial difficulties that led to the WBSS delaying the semifinals as well as reducing them from six shows to three (sacrificing money from broadcast partner DAZN in the process), his fighter is committed to finishing out his part of the deal.
“As long as there’s a tournament, we’re in it,” he said “It’s what Regis wants, and he’s making the final decisions on this.
“I’m more optimistic now about things than I was. We’ll know more in a few weeks.”
Leon Margules, the U.S. promoter for the WBSS, agreed that the outcome of Saturday’s bouts plus the cruiserweight ones will determine what the organization does moving forward.
If Baranchyk (19-0, 12 KO), a native of Belarus who fights primarily in the U.S., wins, the final could be in the U.S. New Orleans is Prograis’ preference, despite lackluster turnouts for his quarterfinal victory against Edward Flanagan at Lakefront Arena in October as well as in Lafayette, where only about 1,500 tickets were sold.
But if Taylor (14-0, 12 KOs) prevails, a return to Great Britain, but not necessarily Glasgow, is more likely or a neutral site in another part of Europe or the Middle East.
“I’d love to have the fight in New Orleans and Taylor’s a big fan favorite over there (about 5,000 are expected at the SSE Hydro Saturday),” Prograis said. “But we wouldn’t want to be in each other’s hometowns.
“They’ve got to do what’s best to make the finances work. I’m confident there will be a championship fight, but you never know.”
The outcome of the other fights also will affect the site and format of the finals. Margules said an Inoue-Donaire fight would likely take place somewhere in the Orient but should Rodriguez prevail, an American venue is more likely. With the cruiserweight semifinalists hailing from Russia, Cuba, the U.S and Latvia, those factors are also in play.
“You’ve got to go where the money is,” said Margules, a Miami-based lawyer who is a Tulane graduate. “Do we risk another $200,000 gate in New Orleans, go for $700,000 in Scotland or look for someplace better?
“New Orleans may be feasible, but we’d want to go to the Smoothie King Center, and you’ve got football to consider too.”
Whatever happens, Prograis added, he has a championship belt, which gives him leverage.
There has been talk this week by promoters of a unification bout in July between the other 140-pound champion, WBC titlist Jose Ramirez and WBO champ Maurice Hooker. That would set up well for Prograis, ranked No. 1 by both ESPN and the Ring, whether or not the WBSS final comes off, to face that winner.
Prograis added he sees second-ranked lightweight Mickey Garcia as a potential foe. But his ultimate goal is to move up to welterweight where a title bout against Terrance Crawford would likely mean a multimillion dollar payday as well as no longer having to make 140 pounds, which at age 30, is difficult even for someone who trains as religiously as Prograis.
That’s all down the road though.
Prograis must get though the winner of Saturday’s fight, which sets up as a contrast in style.
Baranchyk is a brawler from Belarus who comes at opponents from all angles, while Taylor, a 2012 Olympian, is more of a classical boxer.
However, since winning his quarterfinal bout in New Orleans on the same night Prograis won his, Baranchyk has switched to Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach.
“It’s going to be a close fight,” Prograis said. “Baranchyk likes to go straight through people, but Taylor has a really good, stiff jab and has power, too, so he can put people away with one punch.
“I’m going to go with Taylor, but having Freddie Roach with him makes Baranchyk more dangerous.”
After Saturday’s fight Prograis will return to Houston to continue the process of moving to his new home in the San Fernando Valley along with wife Raquel and their two children.
However, Prograis will continue his relationship with Houston-based trainer Bobby Benton including keeping the majority of his training camp there.
Whenever that might be.
“I’m going to enjoy the fight and maybe make a few notes,” said Prograis, who usually doesn’t scout his opponents. “It’s great being a world champion, but I’m still getting used to this celebrity thing.
“I’ll never forget where I came from and what it took to get this far. I feel like I can be a very special story.”