The Monday Matchmaker: Taylor, Prograis, Chisora & more
Photos: Stephen Pond/Getty Images
As the dust settles on each big fight weekend, The Monday Matchmaker aims to discuss the best options that, in victory or defeat, each boxer has available to them, and predicts their likely next steps...This week Tom Craze on Josh Taylor, Regis Prograis, Dereck Chisora and more...
WBSS champion, IBF champion, WBA champion, Ring Magazine champion. Taylor’s brilliant performance against Prograis makes him the consensus number 1 at 140lbs nearly everywhere except Jose Ramirez’s native California. An immediate move to put together the fight for undisputed honours at super lightweight is the dream scenario, but it will remain just that for the foreseeable future, and possibly the best part of the next 12 months, if not more. Ramirez will move on to fight WBC mandatory challenger Viktor Postol – a man already beaten by Taylor – which leaves the Edinburgh man out in the cold for now.
A victory lap back at the Hydro Arena, Glasgow - the scene of four straight Taylor wins prior to Prograis - would be an understandable move, and offer some respite after a gruelling tournament schedule. The idea of a stadium fight in Newcastle against Lewis Ritson would, however, likely be the most lucrative option for Taylor this side of the Atlantic.
The flashy Louisianan dug deep and proved his mettle in a fight that was as engaging as any you’ll watch this year. Having won – at least on most credible scorecards – no fewer than five rounds against Taylor, it would be a major surprise if Prograis didn’t learn from Saturday night and improve as a result. Look for ‘Rougarou’ to sign a promotional deal, post-WBSS, that grants him major television exposure in the US and deliver an emphatic performance Stateside to underline his credentials. Well-established names like Chris Algieri, Jose Pedraza, or Ray Beltran would provide a credible, but eminently winnable, return.
A reinvigorated Chisora rolls on – and he has options. The names of Oleksandr Usyk and Jarrell Miller - who, like him, are on the fringes of the heavyweight top 10 - have already been floated, but the most logical move would be to resurrect the Joseph Parker fight. That’s an interesting, well-matched, clash of styles and the winner would put themselves well into title shot contention.
The affable Price described taking Saturday’s fight at short notice as ‘a business decision’. The eventual, perhaps inevitable, outcome against a dialled-in, form fighter like Chisora will have shocked few, but Price’s stock is unlikely to suffer as a result. Seven stoppage defeats from seven will again trigger questions about Price’s future, but should he wish to box on, ‘Big Truck’ will continue to get opportunities. The likes of Hughie Fury, another looking for a bounce-back win, would represent a different sort of test and one in which Price could box to a game plan without enduring more heavy artillery at a level above his own.
The Welshman will take much encouragement from Saturday night and, after an unconvincing debut at 135lbs against Omar Douglas, may now feel his feet are firmly under the table. The question of whether he is now operating in the right division, having skipped super-feather, is an open one, but working in Selby’s advantage is the fact that lightweight, despite an embarrassment of riches at its very top, has a paucity of credible names in the chasing pack.
Francesco Patera, the EBU champion, continues to rack up the wins, and could be an interesting yardstick. Closer to home, a meeting with Luke Campbell, in a world title eliminator or similar, would be both an ambitious step up and a sizeable all-British attraction.
Calls for the popular Scot to retire feel premature. Burns dropped a close majority decision to a highly-intelligent boxer – this was no rout, nor did it appear to be a career-ending defeat. It’s not the first time we’ve seen Burns frustrated by a mover, but it might be more likely that the subtleties that Selby boasts, like Indongo and Relikh before him, just contribute to a bad style match-up for the Coatbridge man.
Memories are short in boxing: it was, after all, less than a year ago that Burns demonstrated how far above domestic level he still was with a spectacular knockout of Scott Cardle. It’s possible, of course, that time has caught up with him in the meantime, but there are positives to take from his showing at the O2. It might well be that Burns looks next to a straightforward rebound win to boost confidence, but were he to aim higher, the likes of or Edis Tatli or Yvan Mendy – proven, recognisable names on the European scene – would answer the questions about where he fits best.
At 26 years old and just 14 fights into his professional career, Okolie is now the reigning European, British, and Commonwealth champion. Saturday’s stoppage of Yves Ngabu was decisive, if not particularly pretty, and while Okolie might not have picked up many new fans in the process, he – on paper at least – is doing everything right.
The fast-tracking is likely to continue: already number 2 with the WBA, Okolie is likely to be manoeuvred into a tilt at one the organisation’s champions, and whether that’s against Arsen Goulamirian or Beibut Shumenov, the Londoner would start a firm favourite.