Jose Zepeda is good. Regis Prograis is special.
That was obvious Saturday night at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California, where the gifted Prograis dominated and then knocked out Zepeda 59 seconds into the 11th round to become a two-time 140-pound titleholder.
The New Orleans fighter left no doubt about who was the better fighter.
“I trained like six months for this fight,” he said. “I wanted to take him to deep waters and drown him, take him to deep waters, put my foot on him and take him down.”
Regis Prograis KOs Jose Zepeda in the 11th round! pic.twitter.com/VAR1bLBc2P
— 𝗙𝗢𝗟𝗟𝗢𝗪 @𝗙𝗧𝗕𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗱𝟳 (@FTBeard7) November 27, 2022
Prograis (28-1, 24 KOs) had become almost a forgotten man since he lost his first title to Josh Taylor by a majority decision in 2019. He subsequently won three fights to earn a shot the vacant title but in relative obscurity.
On Saturday, fighting on pay-per-view, he reminded fans of what made him one of the most respected and exciting young stars in the world only a few years ago.
Prograis found a groove beginning in the second round, keeping Zepeda (35-3, 27 KOs) at the end of his quick jab and picking him apart with an assortment of sharp, accurate shots to win round after round.
And Zepeda never really adjusted. Instead, he continued to box at a distance with a superior boxer rather than trying to force his way inside or somehow make him uncomfortable. That would’ve been his only chance to win the fight.
The end was somewhat surprising because Prograis hadn’t hurt Zepeda for 10-plus rounds, at least not badly. That changed in an instant, though.
Prograis, like Zepeda a southpaw, found his opponent’s chin with a crushing overhand left that sent him reeling backward into the ropes. His prey wounded, the hunter followed with a barrage of hard blows that finally put Zepeda down.
And that was enough for referee Ray Corona, who stopped the fight without counting to save Zepeda from taking undue punishment.
Spectacular performance, spectacular finish.
Thus, Prograis won the vacant WBC junior welterweight title, which had been vacated by Taylor. And in the process he reclaimed his position as a major player in the sport.
He was asked afterward whom he would like to fight next. Taylor retains the WBO belt. And talented Alberto Puello recently claimed the WBA title. Prograis didn’t want to call anyone out, however. His philosophy: Let them come to him now.
“I’m not saying nobody’s name no more,” he said. “… At first nobody wanted to say my name. Now I’m a two-time champion, now let them say my name.”