The highly-anticipated final of the Super Lightweight World Boxing Super Series between Scotsman Josh Taylor and American Regis Prograis takes place at London’s O2 Arena on Saturday night. Although it is obviously attracting most of the headlines as any unification fight between two undefeated world champions would do, it’s important to remember what else Saturday’s bill has to offer – including two potentially career-ending domestic dust-ups.
Both Taylor and Prograis are uber-confident in their own abilities. They are superstars in the making, yet still have things to prove. WBA champion Regis ‘Rougarou’ Prograis is the current slight bookie’s favourite and is the harder hitter of the two men but questions remain on his ability to go 12 hard rounds with a top-tier fighter. He’s completed the full 12 only once and that was against Terry Flanagan, who despite his status as former world champion is simply not at the same level as Josh Taylor. The American has controlled the pace in all of his 24 victories and it’ll be intriguing to see how he looks when he is inevitably made by Taylor to work at a higher pace than he has previously. He also has to negate a height and reach disadvantage and although London isn’t exactly Edinburgh-born Taylor’s hometown, the O2 crowd will be strongly behind the IBF world champion.
But Taylor also has questions he will have to answer. The 2012 Olympian doesn’t look to have the same punching power as his opponent and it’s likely Prograis is the biggest puncher he has faced. He’ll have to be sharp and clever from the off and use his good movement to avoid Prograis’ solid body shots. Taylor will look to utilise his jab to set up his own excellent body shots in order to wear down Prograis, and this fight could be one of two halves. Don’t be surprised if Taylor is down on the cards midway through the fight. When Taylor fought Viktor Postol most fans thought he was down on the cards after eight rounds and although the shocking performance by the three ringside judges had Taylor far clear by that point, in the eyes of most fans Taylor needed the strong finish he had including a 10th round knockdown of Postol in order to secure the win. In my opinion Prograis will start fast and it’ll be close early before Taylor comes on after the midway point and either stops Prograis or triumphs by decision to become the unified 140 lb. champion.
Elsewhere on the card, the chief support between heavyweights Dereck Chisora and David Price promises to be a cracker. Defeat could spell the end for both men, at least at the top level, and it appears very unlikely that this will go 12 rounds. Both men pack immense punching power as well as clear vulnerabilities. Neither can help themselves when it comes to trading power punches and it’s understandable why this fight is attracting so much interest from the more casual fans who appreciate flashy knockouts over the slick boxing ability on show in the main event. Lee Selby versus Ricky Burns is also a must-win lightweight fight for both men. Burns has won world titles in three weight classes but it’s hard to see where he goes if he loses against Selby, a fellow former world champion. I expect this to go 12 hard, close rounds and either man could win. Also on the card is Lawrence Okolie attempting to win the European Cruiserweight title against unbeaten Belgian Yves Ngabu and Conor Benn continuing his development against Steve Jamoye.