Devin Haney and Regis Prograis will meet on Saturday, settling what has become a pretty heavy beef between the two in the build-up to their 140 lb title fight.
It’s promotional B-side Prograis (29-1, 24 KO) defending the WBC title against Haney (30-0, 15 KO), the former undisputed lightweight champ moving up in weight and looking to become a two-division titlist, and potentially start an undisputed push at this weight.
Who wins the fight? We’ve got our picks in, tell us yours!
Devin Haney vs Regis Prograis
Scott Christ (98-37)
Haney is, really, a pretty basic fighter, but very good at the basics he has honed, some of which are legitimately effective (a terrific jab) and some of which are annoying craft that most referees let go (a lot of holding).
He is also not some defensive genius, though he sometimes gets called that, and I think it’s the thing we discussed recently in the comments of some post or other, I don’t remember what.
Back in the 90s (I WAS ON A VER—ok), the Chicago Cubs would usually bat second baseman Ryne Sandberg second and first baseman Mark Grace third in their lineup. At least at the time, general wisdom was that a second baseman, if he can hit, is the sort of guy who hits first or second, while a first baseman, if he can hit, is the sort of guy who hits third or fourth in a lineup. They would have been better off reversing them. Sandberg was the bigger power hitter, while Grace, a lefty with a great eye and good contact skills, could have been excellent hitting second, often (you hope) behind a runner at first base.
It’s “wisdom” based on assumption without much actual evaluation. With Haney, you have a guy who isn’t much of a puncher but is 30-0, went undisputed at 135 lbs, and the lazy belief is often that he is some incredible technician and slick (or even just really crafty and smart) defensive fighter, because that’s often how mediocre punchers have the career he’s had.
Haney gets hit, though, pretty much every time he faces anyone decent. He’s been rocked at least a little by Lomachenko, by JoJo Diaz, by Linares. It’s not often you see the sort of “highlight reel defense” from Haney that you did from, say, a peak Floyd Mayweather. He’s not that guy. His success is down to frustrating, negating, and often being able to dictate fights with his limited but effective offensive output. He doesn’t often truly outclass opponents in the way we usually think of when we say “outclassed.” Haney is also genuinely reluctant to take risks — for Devin, the win is the win, and fair play to him
I’m not trying to knock Haney with this — he’s a very, very good fighter at worst, and has learned exactly what he’s best at. I only mean to say that if Prograis is on form, he’s got more than a “puncher’s chance” here.
But it’s hard to come out of Prograis’ last fight, with him now 34 years old, and pick him to win here. He’ll be better-prepared for Haney than he was late swap Zorrilla, so that’s the bright side. Haney, though, is sincerely very good at what he does, whether a fan enjoys watching it or not. So I’m going with Devin. I don’t “hate” him or whatever, but I would love to be wrong, or really just get a good fight, which would require Haney not being his normal self, either by choice or just having no other option. Haney UD-12
Wil Esco (106-29)
I really do like Regis Prograis. He’s about as no-nonsense as they come and brings a bit of a different vibe than some other world champions out there. And while I’m not necessarily inclined to completely write him off due to his last performance, I’m also not going to give him a complete pass, either. The fact Prograis has already shown the ability to put on that kind of performance tells me that he’s capable of pulling out another one like it, even if that’s not his intention.
Does Regis pose a threat of danger to Haney? Surely. But Prograis is still going to need to be able to effectively land his power in order to take advantage of it. Haney’s not like a defensive mastermind or anything like that, but he’s pretty damn good at establishing and maintaining his preferred range while nullifying the kind of action he doesn’t really want on the inside. Prograis seems intent on proving that he can box with Haney and doesn’t need to simply outpunch him, and I think that could be an act of folly. In my estimation, Prograis either forces a stoppage or loses a decision on the cards, and I’m going with the latter. Haney UD-12
John Hansen (95-40)
The consensus during the buildup and from the gambling community seems to be that Haney is a terrible matchup for Prograis. I actually think it’s the other way around.
Devin Haney is a very gifted fighter, but much of his success so far has come because he’s substantially bigger than the men he fights, and because he’s able to get away with a constant series of fouls by grabbing and holding his opponents whenever they get within punching range. Regis Prograis isn’t a huge guy, but he’s stout enough that he’s spent years discussing a possible move up to welterweight. He doesn’t have Haney’s reach, but Prograis fights much bigger and longer than Vasiliy Lomachenko, who arguably already beat Haney, and who inarguably hurt him along the way.
If the referee calls the holding tightly, I think this could be a phenomenal show. Even if they don’t, and we get an ugly slog of a fight, Prograis is perhaps the best-suited opponent of Haney’s career to stop him from getting away with jab-and-grab tactics. Prograis at his best has a rarely-seen, hypnotic combination of upper body movement and footwork that’s reminiscent of a cobra. His balance is unorthodox, but allows him to throw with power from odd angles and unconventional distances. In his fight against Jose Zepeda last year, Prograis spent the whole night surprising and punishing Zepeda with shots reminiscent of what Lomachenko and Jorge Linares used to stun Haney.
Prograis doesn’t usually do his damage with the tight uppercut that stops an aspiring cuddler. Instead, he usually relies on his savage left hand, and his ability to land it high and low from unexpected (and usually unseen) release points. But in his fight against Julius Indongo, the grab-splitting uppercut worked devastatingly for him. He has that weapon in his arsenal, and he’s used it before. And those whipping shots over and under the guard may be enough to handle things without needing the uppercut to stymie the hugging.
Haney has faced and beaten world class opponents before, but I don’t know if he’s ever been put in a situation where he had to deviate from Plan A while fighting at the lower weights. And if you’re trying to adapt to a dialed-in Regis Prograis in the middle of a fight, you’re in trouble, because there aren’t a lot of opportunities to prepare for him beyond studying tape. I’m not saying Prograis is the best championship-level fighter in the world, but he might be the most unusual one.
If what we saw against Zorrilla is the sort of fighter Prograis became overnight, then yes, he’s doomed in this one. I don’t think it is. I think it’s much more likely we see Prograis dialed in, making Haney uncomfortable, hurting Haney when he goes for his bread-and-butter approach and really stepping up the punishment in the last third of the fight, when Haney has a history of slowing down. I wouldn’t even be surprised to see something like Spence vs Crawford, with Prograis taking Haney’s legs away early on a counter shot Haney doesn’t see coming, then breaking him down completely over however many rounds Haney can survive.
Even though I usually pepper these things with jokes, I’m dead serious about this. I don’t think Haney is the bad matchup — I think he’s in a bad matchup, and Prograis will remind us of everything that made him a fan favorite and P4P contender in his prime. Prograis TKO-10
Patrick Stumberg (103-32)
Before the Zorrilla fight, I’d have had this more or less even, probably shading a bit towards Prograis’ power and reaction time. I can no longer justify that pick to myself. It’s not that Prograis nearly lost to a technician, it’s that he nearly lost to someone cosplaying a technician. Zorrilla fought well outside of his own comfort zone and still made Prograis look mediocre.
I’m also not prepared to brush off Haney’s success against Lomachenko as him just being big and clinch-happy. He was extremely sharp that night, targeting Lomachenko’s body well and avoiding the worst of “High-Tech’s” onslaught. Haney knows how to fight a skilled southpaw, while Prograis’ ability to deal with decent orthodox fighters appears to have atrophied after that stretch of five consecutive lefties.
As a fan, I’m rooting for Prograis purely by virtue of him being the more entertaining fighter. I just don’t see him pulling it off. Good movement, a sharp jab, and deceptively good infighting carry Haney to an 8-4 sort of decision. Haney UD-12
Robeisy Ramirez vs Rafael Espinoza
- Scott: Ramirez UD-12
- Wil: Ramirez TKO-9
- John: Ramirez KO-5
- Patrick: Ramirez TKO-8
Liam Paro vs Montana Love
- Scott: Love UD-10
- Wil: Paro MD-10
- John: Paro UD-10
- Patrick: Love SD-10
Chris Billam-Smith vs Mateusz Masternak
- Scott: Billam-Smith UD-12
- Wil: Billam-Smith UD-12
- John: Billam-Smith UD-12
- Patrick: Billam-Smith UD-12