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20 JULY 2018

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Prograis Walks Thru Diaz In New York

By Jason Pribila at Ringside: This weekend will see boxing fans make their annual migration to upstate New York to honor the legends of boxing’s past. Evander Holyfield, Marco Antonio Barrera, and the late Johnny Tapia highlight this year’s Hall of Fame class in Canastota. In honor of the festivities that will take place down the road, Showtime Boxing presented a live card featuring fighters who hope to capture the imagination of the next generation of fight fans. Fittingly the action was called by a pair of 2017 inductees, Barry Tompkins and Steve Farhood.


ShoBox returned to the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, New York with a main event between a pair of undefeated welterweights. Regis Prograis (19-0 16 KO) and Joel Diaz Jr. (23-0, 19 KO) agreed to put their perfect records at risk on a program that has seen over forty of their alumni move on to win world titles.


From the opening bell Prograis seemed determined to prove that not all undefeated records are equal. The tall southpaw was the aggressor from the start. Diaz was using good movement, but he was failing to throw anything to deter Prograis from coming forward..


The moment the Diaz corner shouted, “Don’t back up!”


Prograis landed a pair of straight lefts that not only won the round, but it also seemed to strip Diaz of his confidence.


Prograis used the second round to announce that he is ready for the best fighters at 140 lbs. The first knockdown came via straight left hand. Replays showed that Prograis also stepped on Diaz’ foot, but the punch landed cleanly.


The game, but over-matched Diaz rose, only to be dropped with another straight left hand. Diaz rolled backward, but landed on his feet wanting to continue.


The ten-second warning rang from ringside, just as Prograis’ final left cracked Diaz’s jaw. The final knockdown would be the last, and the assault was waved off at 2:55 of Round 2.


Following the bout Prograis confidently called out Terence Crawford, Adrien Broner, and everyone else at 140.


“I’m the boogeyman in the division,” Prograis confessed.

“I’m coming for you all.”


After this electric performance, we will wait to see who will be willing to toe the line to face him.


The evening’s semi-final featured a slugfest between super middleweights Demond Nicholson (17-1-1, 16 KO) and Steve Rolls (15-0, 9 KO) that saw momentum swing from round to round, and often times within the same round.


Rolls took the early lead when he landed a short hook that sent Nicholson to the canvas during round two. The punch seemed innocent enough until Nicholson stood up on unsteady legs.


He survived the round and spent the third round recovering before hurting Rolls against the ropes in the fourth.


The fight soon became not only a battle of attrition, but one over real estate. The fighters fought evenly in the middle of the ring. Nicholson often took the lead, but Rolls often answered with a strong counter argument.


To channel trainer Brother Naazim, “when Nicholson swam he got wet.”


While each fighter had their moments in the middle of the ring, they excelled when forcing their opponents to the ropes. Again, this seemed to be another case of Nicholson doing well, but Rolls doing slightly better.


The final bell rang, and the fate of the fighters was in the hands of the ringside judges. No one was surprised when they heard that the verdict was a split decision. Nicholson was favored 77-75 on one card, but Rolls got the nod on the other two cards 77-74.


Rolls remains undefeated, and there is no doubt that he will owe Nicholson a debt of gratitude for making him a better fighter as he continues to move forward. Nicholson should also be invited back to the ring for a meaningful fight sooner than later.


In the televised opener Spain’s Jon Fernandez (13-0, 12 KO) used the opening frame to find his range against Juan Reyes (14-4-3, 2 KO). Once he did he needed less than three minutes to break down and knock out his overmatched foe.


Fernandez began his onslaught by finding range with his right hand that immediately began leaving an impression on the crowd and more importantly Reyes’ left eye. Once he had Reyes on the defensive, Fernandez varied his attack. Flurries soon began to end with left hooks to the body.


The end came when Reyes tried to squat down to avoid any more punishment. Tactic failed, and Fernandez’s right hook landed on the temple which caused Reyes to fall backward with his head breaking the fall for his body.


No need for a count. The official time of the knockout was 2:36 of Round 2.


As impressive as Fernandez was during 5:36 of action, his reaction may have been even more impressive. Rather than hopping on the ropes and beating his chest, Fernandez moved ot the neutral corner showing more concern for his fallen foe than bravado over what he accomplished.


Promoter Lou DiBella was beaming as he approached press row reminding us scribes that Reyes had never been stopped. He also said that Reyes was the only fighter of around a dozen approved by Showtime that agreed to meet Fernandez.


2:36 or Round 2



Undercard Bouts


Kerman Lejarraga (22-0, 18 KO) TKO-2 Jose Antonio Abreu (13-2, 8KO) - welterweight

Charles Cornwell (4-0, 4 KO) TKO-2 Jeffrey Wright (4-7-1, 4 KO); super welterweight


Francy Ntetu (17-1, 4 KO) TKO-4 Brian Holstein (12-7-1, 7 KO) ; light Heavyweights


Nick Brinson (19-4-2, 9 KO) TKO-6 Jaime Barboza (19-12, 9 KO); super middleweight


Lawrence Gabriel (1-1-1) MD Damian Lewis (0-4-1); cruiserweight


Jason Pribila is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He could be reached for questions and/or comments at and followed on @PribsBoxing

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