Boxing

Prograis Dogs Teofimo: “Mentally, He’s Not There”

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WBC junior welterweight champ Regis Prograis has a lot of potential title challengers, but not all that many of the top dogs in the division are stepping up to face him.

Since former 2-belt champ Jose Ramirez walked away from a mandated title shot, Prograis says he’s more than ready to take on the next available big shot contender, former 3-belt lightweight champ Teofimo Lopez. However, he seriously doubts whether Lopez will step up and take a bout.

“Absolutely not,” Prograis told iD Boxing when asked if the Brooklyn native would fight him. “I don’t think he’s gonna take the fight with me. It’s bullsh*t, bro. Listen that’s what people do, in boxing these days. They say ‘Oh I’mm a fight’– When they know the fight is not going to happen, they’re going to say, ‘Oh, I’mma fight him, I’mma fight him next.’

“I saw his daddy [Teofimo Sr.] say he wants to fight me in April. OK. Let’s see if that’s gonna happen. People are gonna say they want the fight, but it’s gonna be some more bullsh*t. The same thing with the [Ramirez] split or something, they gonna say, ‘oh I don’t agree to that. I don’t agree to this,’ and the fight not gon’ happen. That’s what people doing these days. That’s how it is in boxing. That’s what people are gonna do.”

One of the reasons some have given for Ramirez and maybe Lopez staying away from Prograis has to do with promotional ties. Prograis is promoted by Probellum while Ramirez and Lopez are promoted by Top Rank. Bob Arum, the head of Top Rank, has refused to do business with Probellum over the company’s purported ties with Irish drug cartel boss Daniel Kinahan. Probellum, for the record, denies those claims.

None of this is Prograis’ fault, of course, and he seems genuinely angry over his inability to get two big fights signed and sealed.

“Mike Tyson said it best, these fighters are businessmen,” Prograis declared. “They’re not fighters. They’re businessmen. More than a fighter. At the end of the day, I got into this because I’m a fighter. Of course, you definitely want to be a businessman and you definitely want to make the most money that you can, but me, I love boxing. I don’t love the business side of boxing. I love the sport of boxing. For me, yes, I will fight Ramirez next, I will fight Teofimo next, I don’t care who it is. I want to fight ‘em. I just don’t see them fighting me.

“It’s easy for the dog to bark behind a cage, you know what I’m sayin’? But when you open that fence that dog ain’t tryin’ to come out.”

However, what if he did get Teofimo into the ring? The WBC champ has no doubt how things would play out.

“Mentally he is crumbling,” Prograis said. “Mentally he is not there. Listen, I like Teo. I don’t want to say nothin’ bad about him, I like him and stuff, but if he fights me, I feel like I’mma hurt him. I keep saying the same thing.

“If I hurt Teo I will hurt Teo. He can have the flash, he can have the speed, he can have all that stuff. But I feel like if I hurt Teo…I know mentally he’s not stronger than me. So Mentally I’m gonna break him. I already know mentally I will crush him. I will crush him. In a mental battle I will crush him.”

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Paul Magno has over forty years of experience in and around the sport of boxing and has had his hand in everything, from officiating to training. As a writer, his work has appeared in several online publications, including Yahoo Sports, Fox Sports, FightHype, Max Boxing, Boxing.com, Inside Fights, The Boxing Tribune, The Queensberry Rules, and Premier Boxing Champions. You can reach him at: [email protected]