WBA junior welterweight champion Regis ‘Rougarou’ Prograis 24-0 (20) and his IBF counterpart Josh ‘The Tartan Tornado’ Taylor 15-0 (12) were both in a confrontational mood at the final press conference to promote their 140-pound unification bout at London’s O2 Arena on Saturday night.
The fight will double as the final of the World Boxing Super Series with the winner set to be awarded the coveted Muhammad Ali Trophy.
“He’s 24-0 but has fought no real live opponents,” Taylor claimed.
Prograis interrupted: “They can’t hurt me if they can’t hit me!”
“Take your sunglasses off, you’re indoors you fucking wanker!” Taylor responded.
Despite the verbal barbs both combatants showed a grudging respect for their opponent.
“Josh is the best in the world – apart from me,” said 30-year-old American Prograis.
“He’s taller, he’s longer. Does he hit harder? Maybe, maybe not. Is he faster? Maybe, maybe not.
“Better chin? Maybe, maybe not.
“The tale of the tape never matters. What matters is heart and boxing IQ, and mine is so high. That will be the difference.
“We are here for the belts, the trophy, the money. But the main thing for me is to prove I’m the best.”
Prograis insists he will be able to hurt the 28-year-old Scotsman.
“He gets hit. Josh has been hurt against Ivan Baranchyk and Viktor Postol who aren’t punchers like me. They’re not sharp, crisp like me, they don’t have the timing that I do,” Prograis said.
The New Orleans native arrived in London three weeks before the fight and praised UK fight fans for the reception he has received.
“The UK fans have embraced me, I feel like I’m home. On the streets and walking the malls, people are coming up to me to take pictures,” he said.
“In was a good decision to come here early. I got adjusted to the time, the weather, the food, the culture, the people. So now, I’m just comfortable.”
Taylor talked up the knockout ahead of the contest.”I don’t think he does anything better than me. I just want to get there and get it done now. I 100% believe I can knock him out,” he said.
“He is a good fighter and a world champion but he is going to get it on Saturday night. His 24 wins have come against nobodies, none of them have been in there to hurt him or rip the belt away from him, I am.”
Director of Matchroom Sport, Eddie Hearn, added: “The Ali Trophy is on the line in this fight but also the world championship belts of both men and the vacant Ring Magazine belt as well!
“Whether you feel that the titles, the Ali Trophy or the Ring Magazine belts carry the most weight in boxing, they’re all on the line in this fight, so everybody should be happy that we’re getting the best vs the best.”
Kalle Sauerland of the World Boxing Super Series said: “This is it, the super lightweight final for the Muhammad Ali Trophy! Two great athletes, warriors, and fighters contesting the greatest prize in boxing – on Saturday we will see the best vs the best in the Champions League final of boxing.”
“This winner of this final will be the best in the division. We saw that in season one with Oleksandr Usyk and Callum Smith.
“Both finalists fought the best to be in the final. Both Prograis and Taylor became world champions in their semi-finals and now we have it at what we believe is one of the best stages in world boxing, The O2. Like I’ve said before, this is the caviar of boxing.”