Benton: 'Underdog' Prograis raring to shock Haney

Bobby Benton believes that Regis Prograis is thriving in his status as “underdog”.

Prograis on Saturday makes the latest defence of his WBC super lightweight title against Devin Haney, the former undisputed lightweight champion most widely expected to win.

Their fight will also take place at the Chase Center in San Francisco – the city of Haney’s birth – and on the occasion of Haney’s first fight since he agreed terms with Matchroom, the promoters with which Prograis was already working.

The 34 year old was first tempted to Matchroom amid plans for him to fight regularly out of New Orleans, his home city, but after he did so against Danielito Zorrilla in June when as the favourite he struggled to convinced he then spoke about the pressure he had felt. 

“He does do better in underdog situations,” said Benton, his experienced trainer. “He always trains hard, it’s nothing to do with that, but it’s just a chip on his shoulder. You can see when he’s the underdog – he’s always done well as the underdog. He’s definitely got a little more gasoline burning. It’s the biggest fight of his life, and when he’s the underdog, performance night is where you’ll see everything.

“[Against Josh Taylor in 2019] being over there [in London] – I feel like we won that fight too. I said that before. Two of the three judges gave Taylor the last round; there’s no way Taylor won the last round, and had they gave us the round the fight’s a draw. We did way more to win it.

“[Prograis] does do better when guys come to him, but he can adapt to every situation. That’s the whole thing. Really, [Danielito] Zorrilla taking off running from us was the one thing we didn’t really train for that fight. Now, we’re prepared for everything Haney’s going to bring.

“He had an off-night; a lot going on. He [still] won easy. I give him all the credit – Zorrilla was really smart. He stunk the place up – that was the best thing he could have done.”

Benton considers Taylor, and not the 25-year-old Haney, Prograis’ toughest fight.

“Haney’s a great fighter, but Regis can do everything better than him,” he continued. “They’re underrating his boxing skills and his defence. They think he just gets hit. Haney’s a real fighter, so he’s not just going to run around. He’s going to try and hold his ground with us, but if he does that it’ll be a short night.”