Trainer Shane McGuigan has offered a scathing assessment of American Regis Prograis 24-0 (20) ahead of his world title unification bout against Scotland’s Josh Taylor 15-0 (12) at London’s O2 Arena on Saturday night.
“What you’ve got to think about is guys like Terence Crawford, he was an international amateur. Errol Spence won the Olympics. Prograis has come out of nowhere. It always makes me wonder when these guys come over from the States with this big reputation,” McGuigan said to The Scotsman.
“They want to be superstars rather than fighters. And that’s what winds Josh up, bringing out a bit of mischief and spite.
“Josh hates the flamboyant lifestyle, he’s just a very chilled guy. So, when he finishes boxing, he just wants to live in his house with his dogs and his family. Whereas this guy wants to walk around the streets, being paraded everywhere.”
McGuigan is confident that IBF champ Taylor has put in the work required to wrest the WBA title from Prograis, who has never fought outside of the US as a pro.
“We’ve prepared well, brought in an American guy called Alexis Rocha, who is 14-0, ten knockouts,” McGuigan said.
“He’s a welterweight but is walking around at 165 pounds, very heavy-handed. They did nine or ten spars and it was excellent. We’ve also brought in some fast guys so we’ve got the best sparring we could get.
“Robert Garcia also came over from America. He was the guy who helped Mikey Garcia through the Spence fight and he’s also worked with Canello (Alvarez). And he was shocked with how sharp Josh is, how hard a puncher he is. He couldn’t get any fitter or better. He’s bang on.
“There’s definitely an element of Josh getting into Prograis’ head and making him second guess himself. That’s not Josh doing it to get an edge. He genuinely believes it. Absolutely no way is this guy a harder puncher than him. And it’s about how you use those tools.
“Josh definitely lets himself get dragged into a fight, though. You saw that against Ivan Baranchyk in his last fight when he could have made it a bit easier.
“But when he’s up against a proper puncher and respects their power, you see the best of him.
“I’ve had him in against George Groves before and he’s never out of his depth. Even with a huge weight discrepancy he’s never out of his depth. He ups his game and you’ll see the best against a guy touted as a superstar from the States.”
Meanwhile, Commonwealth bantamweight champion Lee McGregor has labelled Taylor the best Scottish boxer of all time.
“I’ve seen the work he puts in, so please believe me when I say that boy is a machine,” McGregor told BBC Scotland.
“Back in the day I never really had an inspiration. But recently I’ve got to say my inspiration and my favourite fighter is Josh Taylor. To see him succeed is absolutely amazing.
“There have been lots of Scottish greats, but I only had my first fight in 2012, so if you are asking me personally [who the best Scottish boxer of all time is] I would say Josh Taylor.”