Regis “Rougarou” Prograis (22-0, 19 KO) defended and delivered his WBC super lightweight diamond title, in one of the most exciting and important nights in New Orleans sports history. It has been 50 years since New Orleans had seen an event like Saturday night. Prograis, a New Orleans native, broke down and stopped his undefeated opponent Juan Velasco by TKO in Round 8.
(Cred: RULL FOTOS)
Thousands watched Mardi Gras Indians Second Line Prograis’ way into the ring — and New Orleans sports history. The fight aired on ESPN in prime time in front of a crowd of 3,615 fans at the UNO Lakefront Arena. For a large generation of New Orleanians, they had never seen live boxing. The fight brought out elite athletes like Tyran Matthieu, Houston Texas, and Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars - New Orleans natives. Others in attendance included: Terence Crawford and New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara. Prograis grew up fighting outside of the arena as he lived only blocks away and changed history headlining on ESPN.
Prograis, was born and raised in New Orleans and was forced to evacuate following Hurricane Katrina. In his first ten professional fights, he was not paid a dime. Last night, in front of his hometown crowd, Prograis knocked Velasco down and sealed the night with an impressive technical knockout in the eighth round. A defining and gratifying career win.
Cred: Mikey Williams/Top Rank Boxing
"I couldn't lose here in New Orleans," Prograis said. "I told my father, if I lost, I couldn't come back. I had to go out there and fight. I knew I had a hard fight. There was a lot of excitement, but I had to hide that excitement. I had a job to do."
In the co-main event, Teofimo Lopez (10-0, 8 KO) showed the world what “The Takeover,” truly means. The 2016 US Olympian Lopez knocked out William Silva in the sixth round to win the vacant WBC Continental Americas lightweight title. In Lopez style, he completed an impressive performance with a home run, Fortnite dance, and a backflip that lifted the crowd right to their feet with cheers. Lopez knocked the veteran Silva down three times. Silva had never been stopped before, yet The Takeover rewrote his chapter. After continuous punishment from Lopez referee Bruce McDaniel stopped the bout.
"My statement was I am not here to play games. Everything I say, I do. I talk the talk and I walk the walk," said Lopez. "The ring celebration, I was talking to my father, and we said, 'Let's do celebrations like in football. Terrell Owens, he did the popcorn and things like that. Those are the things I want to bring to the boxing world, but I can't bring popcorn out of the stands. It was a home run. Now it's time to collect. It's the beginning of 'The Takeover.'"
On the undercard, New Orleans boxing shined bright with Jeremy “Zereaux” Hill and Johnathan “JohnBoy” Montrel delivering impressive technical knockouts in front of their hometown friends and family.
Jeremy Hill (3-0, 2 KOs), from New Orleans is a 6-foot lightweight prospect who put the crowd into the essence of New Orleans spirit. Hill walked to the ring with the popular Lil Wayne song “BM JR,” and defeated Charles Johnson using his size, length, and reach. When the fight was stopped by the referee a New Orleans band serenaded the Lakefront Arena with “Wade in the Water” and ‘Zereaux’ did the rest like only a New Orleans native could.
After the fight, Hill was approached by Brian ‘Bo-Mac’ Mcyntire, trainer of pound-for-pound champion and WBO Welterweight champion Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford. BoMac encouraged and threw high praise on the young fighter and said that his future is bright with his size and talent. ‘Zereaux’ is an exciting, entertaining young fighter to watch.
Johnathan “JohnBoy” Montrel (1-0) capped off the night with a unanimous decision of his opponent in the last bout of the evening. The super lightweight had an entire floor section packed with Team Montrel who cheered on their hometown fighter in his professional debut. “JohnBoy,” hurt his opponent often to the excitement of his supporters, who chanted “JohnBoy” as his hand was raised in victory.
Regis Prograis, ESPN, and promotional companies Top Rank and DiBella Ent, came together and delivered one of the most exceptional and rare nights of New Orleans sports history, a satisfying boxing event that saw multiple bouts end by a form of knockout.
The “Rougarou” Regis Prograis will now set his sights on the World Boxing Super Series, a tournament with some of the best super lightweight fighters in the 140 weight division.
Regis “Rougarou” Prograis has once again shown why he’s ranked number one at 140 by Ring Magazine, and number one with his people in the city of New Orleans.