Prograis-Zorrilla fight week diary: Day Four

The WBC super lightweight title fight between Regis Prograis and Danielito Zorrilla, at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, didn’t live up to expectations.

It was regardless far from the worst fight on the Matchroom and DAZN bill. That instead unfolded over 12 rounds at welterweight between Shakhram Giyasov and Harold Calderon – which perhaps stood out only because Giyasov had “Wonder Boy” emblazoned across his shorts and Calderon had an even bigger “King”. The biggest cheer from the 6,319 present came when it was announced that Wonder Boy and King were entering the “12th and final round” – a reflection of how almost all of those 6,319 wanted it to be over, and little else.

Bill Haney, the father, trainer and manager of the undisputed lightweight champion Devin, was among those in town and, asked why, he told ProBox TV: “I’ve got a warrant on Regis Prograis.” The great Roy Jones Jr, the victor the last time, in September 2000, New Orleans hosted a world-title fight, was also present. Jones Jr is based three hours away in Pensacola, Florida; on that night 23 years ago he beat Eric Harding inside the distance to retain the IBF, WBA and WBO light-heavyweight titles.

It is to be hoped that both enjoyed their evenings more than David Diamante, the master of ceremonies. After an uncomfortably lengthy pause in the middle of him announcing the timing of Jeremy Hill’s stoppage of Mark Davis, which suggested that he hadn’t been ready to make that announcement when he started, he also guaranteed that there would be none of the suspense typically favoured when announcing the scores for Giyasov-Calderon by revealing, each time, that the score had been in Giyasov’s favour. More common, in the case of a unanimous decision, is for the three scores to be announced first, and then finally the victor. Diamante, clearly, was in little mood for fun and games.

As is customary for a world-title fight, the national anthems of both fighters – in this case Puerto Rico’s and America’s – were played in the minutes before they made their way to the ring. While it was refreshing that – unlike in the UK, where the national anthem of the non-British fighter is almost guaranteed to be booed – the crowd in New Orleans respectfully observed Puerto Rico’s, there was little question that the promotion lost something by the music simply being played from an audio file over the speakers, instead of complemented by a singer from inside the ring.

Incidentally, the uncertainty over whether or not Prograis had been knocked down in the opening round led to ProBox TV seeking a second opinion via the live blog of DAZN News. When replays showed that there was little question that he had been dropped and that the referee Ray Corona had missed it – it is perhaps fortunate it wasn’t a close fight – ProBox TV felt little choice but to award that round 10-8 in Zorrilla’s favour. DAZN News, however, reported: “Prograis gets dropped. The ref calls it a push but it’s the highlight of a round that Prograis is lucky to win. 10-9 Prograis.” While agreeing that Prograis had been lucky, ProBox TV remained confused about how anyone – even at an organisation so closely aligned with Prograis’ promoters Matchroom – could acknowledge what had happened and still scored the round in his favour. 

Diamante; Prograis; Corona; DAZN News; Giyasov; Calderon. It was a night of off-nights.