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Regis Prograis: I didn’t appreciate winning world title the first time, I’m a different fighter going into Jose Zepeda fight

Regis Prograis says he’s not the fighter or person he used to be, and that Jose Zepeda has never seen anything like he will in November.

Regis Prograis admits he didn’t appreciate being a world champion the first time around, but says he is a different fighter now
Regis Prograis admits he didn’t appreciate being a world champion the first time around, but says he is a different fighter now
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images for Triller
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Regis Prograis will have a shot to win the vacant WBC 140 lb title on Nov. 26, when he faces Jose Zepeda in a pay-per-view main event from Carson, Calif.

It’s a terrific matchup, albeit one everyone will wish weren’t yet another pay-per-view, an odd situation where the purse bid was won by a relative unknown promotional outfit owned by Marvin Rodriguez, without any non-PPV TV or streaming deal in place.

The move seems calculated enough. Most would agree that, on paper, MarvNation overpaid at the purse bid — similar to what Triller did with the original Lopez vs Kambosos bid — and will now be gambling on there being enough diehard boxing fans willing to shell out PPV money for this two days after Thanksgiving, right as the holiday shopping season kicks into full gear.

But no one argues this isn’t a hell of a fight. Prograis (27-1, 23 KO) and Zepeda (35-2, 27 KO) are both top 140 lb contenders, and on paper, their styles could make for a genuinely great fight. Add in that they’ll be at the famed “Punch Bowl” in Carson, where fight magic happens frequently, and you’ve got a stew going here.

Prograis, now 33, has sort of been out in the wilderness since losing the WBA title to Josh Taylor in a 2019 unification in London. He’s had three fights since — one with PBC, one with Triller, one on a Probellum show in Dubai — but against, at best, second-tier opposition.

With this chance to get back on top, Prograis admits that he didn’t really appreciate fighting for a world title the first time around.

“I feel like I’m totally different now because when I was the world champion. I’m going to be honest with you, I didn’t cherish it. It was easy to me. I’m not even gonna lie, it was easy to me,” he said.

“At the time I was preparing to fight for the belt, I went to L.A. and for my first two weeks there we had parties at the house and all kinds of stuff, and this is me fighting for my world championship! But it was just it was easy to me, and I didn’t cherish it, and then it was taken away from me just like that, real fast.

“So now, I feel like I’m a different fighter, my mindset is way different. The first time, it was easy. I just did it. It was easy. I was world champion, number one in the world, and it was nothing to me. I didn’t even care about it. And this time it has been hard, to scratch my way back to the top to even get to the belt. So now I will cherish that even more. And now I don’t do all those things I used to.”

Zepeda, also 33, is on a five-fight winning streak following a narrow 2019 decision loss to then-WBC titlist Jose Ramirez, and notably had a knock-down, drag-out war in 2020 with Ivan Baranchyk in the Top Rank “Bubble.”

But while Prograis has repeatedly stated his respect for Zepeda as a fighter, he believes he’s simply a level and style that the Mexican hasn’t encountered.

“I’m not Ivan Baranchyk, when I drop people, I will finish them off,” Prograis stated. “I also have a higher IQ and I feel like I have bigger punching power, too. And then I’m a southpaw so I’m slick. Baranchyk was there to be hit.

“Ivan didn’t really have too much defense, but me, I’m a whole different monster. Zepeda has never seen nothing like me before. But Zepeda, he is good — he gets dropped, he gets back up and he does good.”

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