When WBC junior welterweight champion Regis Prograis 29-1 (24) takes on former undisputed lightweight champion Devin Haney 30-0 (15) at the Chase Center in San Francisco, California this Saturday, most people watching will be expecting the challenger to win.
Not everyone though. As the fight inches closer, more and more fans and pundits are tipping a close fight, with some even leaning towards 34-year-old New Orleans southpaw Prograis to retain his title against the 25-year-old San Franciscan.
“Personally I feel like both guys have a lot to prove, they are both coming off of suspect victories,” retired former world champion turned commentator Tim Bradley said to FightHype. “I’m expecting a really good fight and I would say 50/50 down the middle, because Prograis has got a puncher’s chance, he has got to hurt Haney.
“It’s [Haney’s] first time at 140-pounds, he is definitely going to feel the difference as far as punching power is concerned.”
Bradley added that he doesn’t think Haney will hit any harder at junior welterweight than he has done at lightweight.
“He has got respectful power and good timing, he can buzz you but those one-hitter-quitters, I’ve only seen one and it was against Antonio Moran, but I don’t think that he is going to have more power,” he said.
A poll of staff writers and reputable boxing insiders at The Ring this week saw 17 out of 20 respondents tip Haney to win, but it was the three Prograis predictions that left readers with the most to chew on.
Both the editor of The Ring, Doug Fischer, and retired former world champion turned commentator Raul Marquez see Prograis’ pressure being too much for Haney in the back half of the fight.
“I know I’m going against the ‘chalk’ and the opinions of the majority of fans and media interested in this fascinating stylistic matchup of top-tier fighters, and maybe I’m biased because of my southern Louisiana roots, but I envision Prograis scoring a dramatic come-from-behind stoppage in the championship rounds,” Fischer said.
He added: “Haney has excellent experience for fighter his age, but he’s not a kill-or-be-killed type of dude. He doesn’t have Prograis’ grit and determination after 10 rounds. I think Prograis overwhelms a game Haney in Round 11 or 12.”
Marquez said: “Haney has to box, box and box. Use his boxing abilities, keep circling around Prograis throwing fast combos. Prograis needs to close the distance quick with constant pressure and body attacks. Don’t let Haney think, break his will. I believe the fight is decided in second half and Prograis gets a late-round stoppage. Prograis round 11.”
TV analyst Steve Farhood differed slightly from his colleagues, tipping a distance fight with the champion retaining his title on points.
“It’s probably the right time for Haney to move up to 140, but the obvious question will be whether he’ll be strong enough to keep Prograis at bay,” Farhood said.
“Prograis will have to win rounds on aggressiveness; in a fight likely to go the distance, he won’t be able to win a decision by boxing patiently. I lean toward Prograis in a close decision.”