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Eddie Hearn pressing forward with plans to match Regis Prograis with Devin Haney

Regis Prograis and Eddie Hearn

WBC junior welterweight champion Regis ‘Rougarou’ Prograis 29-1 (24) turned in arguably the worst performance of his career when he won a split decision victory over Danielito ‘El Zorro’ Zorrilla 17-2 (13) at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana on Saturday night.

Apart from a third round knockdown of Zorrilla courtesy of a straight left hand from southpaw Prograis, the fight was largely uneventful as the 34-year-old struggled to catch up with the Puerto Rican.

The pair combined to achieve an unenviable record – the lowest number of punches connected a 12-round fight since CompuBox started tracking these statistics. Neither boxer landed in double figures in any round.

Prograis snuck away with the win in his first fight in his hometown in almost five years with judges Josef Mason and Robert Tapper giving him the nod by scores of 117-110 and 118-109 respectively. Judge Craig Metcalfe say it differently, giving the 27-year-old Zorrilla the edge 114-113.

“I kept pressing the action, but he ran around the whole time,” Prograis said in his post-fight interview.

“He ran and he tried to survive. He was stronger than I thought and he caught me with some punches, but he just ran around. It was kind of hard to get to him.”

Prograis had a short training camp, a change of opponent – he was supposed to face undefeated Australian southpaw Liam Paro 23-0 (14) – and the added pressure of fighting in front of his home crowd.

How much these factors affected his performance are open for debate, but Prograis himself admitted he performed below himself.

“New Orleans, I’m sorry,” Prograis said. “I wanted to put on a little better performance. When you come back for hometown fights, they make you so nervous. I was in my hotel room, I was nervous.

“Usually when I’m fighting on the road and I’m not here, I stay in the hotel the whole time. This time I went out before the fight. Hometown fights – they’re the worst, bro.”

Ironically, his less than stellar showing could see other boxers in and around his weight class vying for a shot to claim his scalp.

Prograis’ promoter Eddie Hearn is keen to match him with undisputed lightweight champion Devin ‘The Dream’ Haney 30-0 (15), who has spoken of moving up in weight for at least a year now. Haney’s father and trainer Bill Haney took in the Prograis-Zorrilla fight in from ringside.

“I think Devin Haney against Regis Prograis is a massive fight, and we would like to make that fight,” the Matchroom Boxing boss said to iFL TV.

“I’ll be honest, he had six weeks camp for this fight. We sat in the restaurant seven weeks out, trying to do the deal. I think he was eating a big steak that night and going for a run after.

“I can’t hype. I can’t give you the big sale and then when he doesn’t perform, still give you the big sale. I know Regis Prograis is an unbelievable fighter.

“We know that, but it wasn’t a great performance. The pressure of hometown. More promotion, he was running ragged through the week. That’s all the things he wants as well. I think the lack of a full camp, maybe, but it wasn’t a good performance.

“I’ve got Sam Jones driving mad. We know we’ve got contractual obligations to Jack Catterall. I think that’s a great fight as well. You’ve got Montana Love and Richardson Hitchins coming up, but look, Devin Haney, as a contractually free agent, is the fight that I think we could get moving quite quickly and it’s a big fight, and I think that’s the kind of fight you’ll see the best of Regis Prograis.”