Josh Taylor-Regis Prograis was as good as it looked on paper.
It might have been even better than that.
In one of the best fights of the year, and for the second time in a unification fight at 140 lbs. this year, two undefeated fighters left everything they had in the ring. Unlike the Jose Ramirez-Maurice Hooker fight, last Saturday’s showdown was the sort of grueling twelve-round affair we one day could look back on as chapter one.
Rivalries don’t always have to be blood feuds. Taylor and Prograis talked plenty before the fight but were both all class afterwards. They’ve seen the best of each other; learned how tough a chin each man has and how much they can take to the body. In a contest often taken to the trenches, Taylor showed off the diversity of his skill set while Prograis showed the depth of character to rally enough in the second half to keep it close.
They can fight again anytime.
It just might not be right away. What might the future hold?
Let’s get into it.
The Future for Taylor: Taylor was viewed early on as a blue chip prospect and has fulfilled his initial promise. The Scotsman walks away with the WBSS tournament win, two alphabet title belts, the Ring Magazine crown, and three straight wins over undefeated fighters. The only thing left is to stamp himself the one, true king of the class. To clearly secure history’s crown at 140 lbs., Taylor called out the right name after the fight. While each is likely to have a fight between now and whenever, is there a more desirable fight at Jr. welterweight than Taylor versus Jose Ramirez? It would put all four major alphabet belts on the line. After seeing the inside battle that was his win over Prograis, a Ramirez fight could seemingly come with a parental advisory for violence. Taylor could also potentially look at a Prograis rematch next year and will likely have mandatory obligations for the IBF. Gervonta Davis and Taylor had some back and forth on Twitter on Monday as well to provide more food for thought. Still only 28, and standing 5’10, Taylor could also find himself in the welterweight mix eventually. Regardless of what the immediate future holds, Taylor is a big time player and earned every inch of it to get there.
The Future for Prograis: The New Orleans native lost little in terms of his overall appeal even as he saw his title and undefeated mark fall. Prograis started and finished well and can find room to improve going forward. Taylor was often a little sharper and straighter on his shots, something Prograis can work on in the gym. Whether he continues at Jr. welterweight or tempts a move up the scale, he’ll remain must-see TV for the time being. With a win or two, could he entice WBO welterweight titlist Terence Crawford? Crawford is locked out of the PBC round robin at 147 lbs. for now and needs foes the public would be interested in. Crawford-Prograis could be interesting. So too would a Prograis positioning himself for chapter two with Taylor and staying pout on the scale.
Rold Picks 2019: 63-15 (Including Stevenson-Gonzalez)
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]