When you say to Regis Prograis -- who defends his WBC junior welterweight title this Saturday night against Devin Haney -- that he had he struggled in his last outing versus Daniel Zorrilla in June. He has no objections.
In fact, he vehemently agrees with that assessment.
"Bad night, real bad night at the office," he told SNAC.com last week after his days training at the Brickhouse Boxing Club in Los Angeles. "It was just a lot of bad stuff going on. Bad night, last minute replacement. He came in three weeks (notice), and on top of that he just came to run around.
Prograis retained his title by the scores of 117-110, 118-109 and 113-114, in what was a split verdict in what was a rather tepid affair for what is normally one of the most fan-friendly fighters in the sport. This event took place at the Smoothie King Center in his hometown of New Orleans.
Which was part of the problem. Homecoming fights are great in theory but there is also a reality to them. They come with obligations and distractions that otherwise don't exist if you fight in a more neutral setting.
Prograis said flatly, "It's terrible. It's like you want to (fight at home) but at the same time once you get closer and closer -- you just get bombarded with so much stuff. It's just so much stuff. A lot of people say, 'Man, why can't you just handle that stuff?' It's just the people close to you."
On the day of the Zorrilla fight, he made the decision to leave the fight hotel and went to his mothers home out of boredom.
"And it was one of the worst mistakes I ever did," he admitted. "I went there and they're talking about tickets, they were telling me about tickets. I'm like, 'What am I do here?' I'm literally fighting in like hours, and I'm dealing with that. So it was bad."
Yeah, everyone wants tickets, but that alone isn't good enough for some.
"Where am I seated?' was asked more than once to Prograis, who had to accommodate a good number of friends and family. "Obviously, everyone wants to be on the floor, and I know a lot of people."
And those tickets come at cost to the fighters.
Prograis explained, "People don't realize we have to pay for those tickets. We only get comped a certain amount of tickets. The rest of them we have to pay for them. I think my last fight I spent like $60,000 on tickets. That's $60,000 I could've had in my pocket. That's a car."
Friends and family, can't live without'em, can't live with'em (during fight week at home).
"It's a lot to deal with, a lot of people don't understand that," said Prograis, who was more than glad to cede home canvas advantage to Haney, who has roots in the Bay Area. Matchroom Boxing is putting this fight card -- which will pay to full house with over 19,000 in attendance -- at the Chase Center in San Francisco.
"I didn't care about it, and actually in my contract I'm supposed to be fighting in Houston. But I was like, 'You know what? We can fight in California,'' said Prograis, who says he will still have a contigent of fans from both H-town and New Orleans flying in for the fight. "Listen, I lived here, I train here. Southern California is almost like a home to me anyways.
"So he can have it in the Bay Area. So for me, it doesn't matter. I wouldn't want it back in New Orleans."
For Haney, who began his career in Tijuana, and has been a globetrotter of sorts, this is his first outing in the Bay Area. Prograis is more than willing to let him have all those homecoming responsibilities. "It will be way more pressure, as far as tickets and all that," he stated. "If I had it in New Orleans it would be nuts. It would just be too much to handle, right now."
But when it's all said and done, like any other boxing match, it's just two guys and a referee in the ring. What we have here are two world-class practitioners with contrasting styles. Prograis, a technically sound pressure fighter, and Haney, a well-schooled boxer.
In his last outing, Haney won a disputed decision over Vasiliy Lomachenko. This was a fight that saw Haney, who captured the undisputed lightweight title that May night, get struck with a good number of left hands from Lomachenko, who is a southpaw like Prograis.
"I hit him with those same punches. it's not going to be pretty," he said.
Junior welterweight punches?
"No, MY punches," clarified Prograis, who is certainly of the hardest hitters in the division.
While he is the defending champion (and rated second in the division by Ring Magazine), and the career 140-pounder, Prograis comes into this bout as a 4-to-1 'dog. Perhaps it's the memories of his last outing, or his age(34) versus a young craftsmen who is fighting in front of his partisans are driving these odds. But he remains undeterred in his vision.
When asked what will take place this weekend, he said without hesitation: "It's a beat down, a 12 round beat down."
While Prograis-Haney will be the main event on a pay-per-view show from DAZN, ESPN has a Top Rank card from Pembroke Pines that features WBO featherweight titlist, Robeisy Ramirez, who defends versus Rafael Espinoza...Also on that card are prospects: Xander Zayas, Bruce Carrington and Richard Torrez...Junto Nakatani will attempt to win a belt in his third weight class. On February 24 in Tokyo, Japan, he will face Alejandro Santiago for the WBC bantamweight crown. Santiago is rated third in this weight class by Ring....I can be reached at email@example.com.....