Prograis-Zorrilla fight week diary: Day Two

Regis Prograis twice betrayed a sense of frustration at the final press conference ahead of the homecoming fight with Danielito Zorrilla that is at risk of proving anticlimactic.

Numerous tickets are still for sale at the unfortunately named Smoothie King Center. Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn, who is promoting a fight in The Big Easy for the first time, is overseeing one of Prograis’ fights for the first time since tempting him to sign for Matchroom over Top Rank on the promise of him regularly fighting in the home city of which he is so proud.

Prograis last fought in New Orleans in 2018, when he defeated Terry Flanagan. Saturday’s fight is his first here as a world champion, and represents the first world-title fight in the city the great Roy Jones Jr – based three hours away in Pensacola, Florida – defeated Eric Harding in in September 2000.

The New Orleans Pelicans being in their off-season also means Prograis has little, in a sporting context, to compete with, and yet Hearn, told he can expect a crowd in the region of 8,000 on Saturday, is expecting closer to 6,000. 

When conducting interviews on Wednesday, after some filming with broadcasters DAZN, Prograis, inevitably, had been asked about one divisional rival in Teofimo Lopez defeating another in Josh Taylor last weekend. At Thursday’s press conference, unprompted, and speaking with a sense of weariness, not anger, he said: “All the reporters, stop asking me about all these other fighters. Fuck [Devin] Haney. Fuck Teo [Lopez]. Fuck Josh Taylor. Fuck Adrien Broner. Right now, it’s about me, and this is my show, and Saturday night, [Zorrilla] gonna get his ass whooped.”

The brooding Puerto Rican with the intense stare, through his inability to speak English, sat alongside him untroubled. More troubled will have been Prograis’ experienced public relations assistant Bernie Bahrmasel, who was been working hard to portray everything related to Saturday’s fight in the most positive possible light. Matchroom, aware that boxing is rarely king – particularly in the US – are significantly less troubled. Incidentally, the press release they later distributed led on their fighter discussing Taylor-Lopez.

“The best fighter in the division,” Prograis later continued, at the conclusion of the same press conference. “I’m going to go out there and have fun. I’m thankful for Matchroom; thankful for Eddie for seeing the dream; seeing the vision. 

“If y’all don’t know they have tickets as low as $20. People don’t know they have tickets as low as $20. Everybody thinks it’s going to be real expensive but they do have tickets as low as $20. 

“I can’t wait:”