The long wait for the World Boxing Super Series card Saturday at the Cajundome is now down to less than a week.
The most anticipated fight brings together New Orleans native Regis Prograis (23-0, 19 KOs) and Kiryl Relikh (23-2, 19 KOs) for the unified light welterweight title of the world.
The other co-main event WBSS semifinal, however, figures to also be a memorable confrontation. It’s Nonito Donaire of the Phillipines against Zolani Tete (28-3, 21 KOs) of South Africa for the unified bantamweight crown.
Donaire is an eight-time world champion who shocked many in the quarterfinal round of the World Boxing Super Series with an upset of top-seeded Ryan Burnett in Glasgow, Scotland in November.
For longtime boxing fans, however, it probably shouldn’t have been much of a shock. Twice in his career — in 2007 and 2011 — Donaire produced the Knockout of the Year performance.
Donaire was the first boxer to arrive in Lafayette, coming in Saturday, looking forward to his week’s stay in Cajun Country.
“There is so much culture all over the United States and I am I’m blessed to be in a tournament that allows me to visit a different state,” said Donaire, who trains out of Las Vegas. “I’ve heard the food is amazing and I can’t wait to try it out after the fight.”
But the 36-year-old Donaire isn’t coming here for the food and festivals. He’s coming to deliver an encore performance of his quarterfinal upset of Burnett.
“This tournament makes me 20 years younger,” Donaire said. “I have to be the best of me to compete against the young guys in this tournament. But with my coach Kenny (Adams) we are going to make it happen, we are going to keep on going; all the way until I am the undisputed champion of the world. We are getting closer and closer.”
Despite being on the downside of his career, Donaire said he’s remained dedicated in preparation for the fight.
“I made sure to continue to stay disciplined with my diet and continue to be at the gym,” Donaire said. “As I said, it wasn’t completely 100% boxing throughout and we did implement training outside of the boxing gym and different drills as well. We made sure to have rest when needed so we could turn it up in these last couple weeks.”
Of course, Tete has credentials as well, coming off a quarterfinal win over Mikhail Aloyan in Russia last October.
“Tete is a formidable opponent,” Donaire said. “He is tall, he is fast, he is slick, but I am a fighter that can fight any kind of style. I can’t wait to show the crowd what we’ve been working on.”
The Donaire-Tete fight will then be followed by the final fight of the historic card between Relikh and Prograis.
While Prograis is the heavy local favorite being from the New Orleans area and training in Houston, Relikh recently told boxing247.com that Prograis’ Louisiana fans will be surprised with the outcome.
“Regis Prograis is, without a doubt a good boxers, but he’s not faced yet anyone like me,” Relikh said. “He’s in for a surprise. I’m smarter than him and I’ve had a much better boxing school.
“There is not a single doubt in my mind that I’ll beat Prograis.”