By John J. Raspanti
Former WBO lightweight champion Terry Flanagan has a pretty good idea what he’ll be facing Oct. 27 at the U.N.O Lakefront Arena in New Orleans, LA.
"He looks like a very dangerous fighter and I like his style but he has not boxed anyone like me before,” said Flanagan in a press release announcing the fight.
Dangerous is right. Prograis, nicknamed “The Rougarou,” a legendary werewolf of Cajun lore, has stopped 15 of his last 16 opponents in compiling a record of 22 wins without a loss.
Prograis is best known for his blowout of former WBA super lightweight champion Julius Indongo.
Indongo, who entered his fight with Prograis a loser only once, and that once was to pound-for-pound candidate, Terence Crawford, started quickly, but faded as soon as he tasted Prograis’ power. A barrage of punches from the relentless Prograis weakened Indongo’s legs. A stiff right put him down. Indongo got up, but never recovered. Prograis wouldn’t let him. He bobbed, weaved, and fired. A big left dropped Indongo again. He pulled himself up, but was knocked down twice before the referee waved off the fight.
Prograis,29, came home to New Orleans for his next fight against undefeated, but unheralded, Juan Jose Velasco. Whether he was nervous, or overtaxed from helping to promote the bout, Prograis didn’t look nearly as sharp as he had against Indongo. He ate a lot of shots and struggled at times before stopping Velasco in the eighth round.
He expects a good fight from Flannagan.
“I definitely don’t think it’s going to be an easy fight,” Prograis said on Media Day a few weeks ago. “He’s a rough and tough fighter who comes to fight every time. I think he presents some challenges I haven’t dealt with, as a professional.”
Flanagan, from Manchester, England, captured the British and WBO European lightweight titles before stepping up to face Jose Zepeda for world championship honors in 2015.
Zepeda sustained a dislocated shoulder during the contest and was unable to continue. Flanagan made successful defenses against Diego Magdaleno (TKO2), Derry Mathrews(w12), Mzonke Fana (w12), Orlando Cruz (TKO8), and Petr Peterov (w12). Flanagan was favored to defeat Maurice Hooker four months ago in Manchester.
Instead, Hooker won a surprising split decision, surprising since Hooker was fighting in Flanagan’s backyard. Flanagan shook off the stinging defeat and signed up to compete in the World Boxing super lightweight tournament.
Prograis, the number one seed in the tournament, had the option of picking his first opponent. He chose Flanagan.
“I picked him because I felt he was the tougher fight,” Prograis said. “It was either him or Ryan Martin and I chose him because I felt he could give the best challenge. I’m in the sport to challenge myself and fight the best.”
Flanagan, also 29, figures he has the tools to defeat Prograis.
“The fans can expect me back at my best and giving Prograis a boxing lesson,”said Flanagan. “I think what I bring to the table neutralizes his strengths and that is the difference.”
I expect Flanagan to win a few rounds on Oct.27, but I also expect Prograis to be sharper than he was in his last outing. He’s on a roll, while Flanagan lost his last fight.
Expect Prograis to win by late stoppage.