The Big Question: Prograis vs Taylor - who wins?
Photo: James Chance/Getty Images
Unbeaten super lightweight champions Josh Taylor and Regis Prograis meet on Saturday night at the O2 in the final of the World Boxing Super Series 140lbs tournament. Nine members of the BM team are here with their picks and predictions...
This is boxing fantasy as reality - two elite, unbeaten world title-holders jousting at the peak of their powers. There’s precious little between them. Home advantage definitely holds some sway here, but I side with Taylor overall. He can fight inside, outside, bang and box, turn adversity into advantage. Those gut-checks against Postol and Baranchyk should serve him well down the stretch as he pips a squeaker on the cards. Taylor by split decision. – Mark Butcher
I'm going with Prograis. He can go 12 rounds and is heavy handed enough to score multiple knockdowns along the way, which should serve him well down the stretch as he pips a squeaker on the cards. Prograis by split decision. – Colin Harris
Taylor is a phenomenal fighter, the British fighter who reminds me most of Calzaghe. But Prograis is no Lacy and has that extra gear I feel in natural talent and skill. I like the fact he's come to London three weeks in advance, leaving nothing to chance. Could well go down as an all-time classic. Prograis on points. - Luca Rosi
This is one that we’ve all been looking forward to and while match-ups dubbed as a potential fight of the year don’t always meet expectations, I think this will be as good as we’ve been hoping for! I’ve changed my mind a lot in the build-up but I’m now leaning towards Prograis in what should be a brilliant, close fight. Prograis by split decision. - Lee Gormley
Tough fight to pick but I'm leaning towards Prograis. I like his lateral movement, counter punching and underrated boxing ability to be the difference. - Anthony Cocks
The 140lbs division has enjoyed its share of unification matches over the last thirty years - from the classic 1990 Julio Cesar Chavez vs Meldrick Taylor showdown that sealed the Mexican’s legendary status, to Ricky Hatton part-unifying during his blistering prime, the damp squib between Tim Bradley and Devon Alexander, Terence Crawford collecting all four belts against Julius Indongo and the mini-classic in Ramirez vs Hooker that unified two straps earlier this year. Without tempting fate, Prograis vs Taylor looks certain to take its place among the great ones and I’ve happily stumped up the cash to watch live in the O2 as a fan. It’s one of those rare matches that pits two fighters that it’s difficult to imagine losing against one another. Taylor’s career trajectory has been near perfect as he developed the experience of overcoming a number of styles in impressive fashion. A run of Postol, Martin and Baranchyk leading into this WBSS final has proven that Taylor is battle-tested and clearly has that hard-to-define hard quality about him. He doesn’t appear to have reached his ceiling. Prograis has racked up more professional fights than Taylor but with a lower quality of opposition for me. Still, he’s never been less than extremely impressive in dominating his opposition, with a near shut-out of Terry Flanagan in particular making British fans take notice. It will be a humdinger and I can’t see anything other than a close distance fight. The draw at 22/1 is a terrific bet, but I’d edge very slightly towards Taylor to win more of what promise to be white-hot rounds for a close decision win.
- Chris Williamson
I don’t know how anyone could confidently predict a winner here. It is truly a fight where any one of three outcomes is possible. The bookmakers have Prograis as narrow favourite, but the greedy punter in me is eyeing the 20s on offer for the draw. I really think it could be that close at the end of normal time. The WBSS has been a great addition to boxing despite some of its tribulations, and it has complemented Taylor’s somewhat old school rise to prominence. With so many of the Scot's fights featuring on Channel 5 he has been introduced to a wider audience than is usual in the 21st century world of PPV and paywalls. There is a familiarity with Taylor outside of the hard-core boxing fan, a feeling of investment in his career to date, and I think that will stand in him good stead in London, although the crowd may be less vocal and partisan than they would be north of the border, I expect them to be right behind him and provide the extra 1 per cent that is needed to tip the 50/50 nature of this contest. (Assuming of course, that they don’t all leave after the “Shoulda, woulda, coulda!” real headliner between Dereck and Dave!) Taylor to win by the narrowest, flimsiest of decisions in one of the fights of the year, possibly followed by some polite Joe Jacobs-style invective from Prograis’ corner. - Garry White
I like Taylor in this fight – and I think he’ll win this more comfortably than people are expecting. Prograis is a quality fighter, but he’s had everything his own way to date. Taylor has been fast-tracked but he was tested against Postol and Baranchyk, and he may have learned enough in those fights to progress again. In terms of styles, Taylor looks to have the edge: his height, reach and speed could prove crucial, especially if he looks to get around Prograis (the visitor is adept at slipping punches when an opponent stands in front of him – but looks wide open if someone can give him angles). The Scotsman also has home advantage (he lives in London, and the east coast mainline will be shuttling his compatriots down in droves on Saturday). I expect Taylor to fight full-throttle from bell to bell, grabbing the fight by the scruff of the neck and never letting up. He’s talking up a stoppage win as the fight approaches, but he may have to settle for a wide decision victory. Either way, I’m expecting an eye-opening performance from him. - Andrew Harrison
I believe the factors that will ultimately determine the outcome are ever so slightly aligned in Taylor's favour. The Scot has overcome stiff challenges from Postol and Baranchyk - opponents arguably superior to anyone Prograis has faced - and as such may be more accustomed to the challenges of negotiating 12 tough rounds. Additionally, Taylor is a slightly more polished technician, whose height and reach advantages could be crucial. The fact the fight is on British soil is another incremental factor in his favour. Marginal factors such as these lead to the conclusion that the most likely results is a narrow Taylor win on the scorecards possibly via split decision, although it is a prediction made in the knowledge that the talented Prograis is more than capable of upsetting this expectation.
- Luke G. Williams, from his preview in the latest issue of BM
Final tally: Taylor 5 Prograis 4