Why Isn’t Regis Prograis vs Jose Ramirez Happening?
Why isn’t Regis Prograis vs. Jose Ramirez happening? The general public and fight fans seem frustrated and want someone to blame, and honestly – blame should be shared by all, not just the Ramirez side.
Despite covering Jose Ramirez for his whole career, I have been a big believer in the talents of Regis Prograis, and even more so in his fantastic coach, Bobby Benton, who I think is one of the best trainers in boxing and the front-runner for boxing trainer of the year in 2023. The two fighters, Prograis and Ramirez, are so similar in a lot of ways – civically minded fighters, who put the fans first, and both come ready to exchange.
Let’s talk through the optics, and then get to the conclusion.
The working premise is simple. Ramirez has had two chances to fight Regis Prograis, and after winning on March 25th…
…it looks to be a third chance as he's been the WBC junior welterweight mandatory since late last year. Ramirez could’ve fought Regis Prograis for the vacant world title, instead Jose “Chon” Zepeda faced Prograis. That clash ended up being promoted by MarvNation on pay-per-view, for the record.
This fight that just occurred could’ve happened with Prograis, but the sides couldn’t come to terms. If you hear Prograis’ side, the offers were never throughly entertained. And if you hear Ramirez’s side, they were never presented a fair offer of 40%, a higher purse split, since Ramirez would be bringing in a television network, ESPN, and the ability to fill up an arena.
Here is the ugly truth that most are missing. Regis Prograis is probably a fringe top-ten pound-for-pound fighter, but is slowly starting to go to the Demetrius Andrade zone. What do I mean by that, a very dangerous fighter, who doesn’t seem to have marquee television dates, currently. I believe he was signed to Probellum, but I am not sure what his contract situation is, and more so if any major network aligns with him. Prograis has a following, but here is the kicker, his following doesn’t match the risk a foe takes on when they fight him.
We hear awful boxing business hour that dumbs things into risk-and-reward. That's boring – let’s talk about the fun stuff; power! Prograis’ leverage in the situation is simply this–he holds a belt. For fighters who are going for legacy that matters, for those who are fighting for money with legacy implications, that is less enticing. In a world in which attention is more valuable than money–just ask Andrew Tate about this–Prograis is not getting the same attention as his skill sets merit, and that is what seems to be halting his ability to land the big fights.
“If you can’t come into a room and tell right away who is for you and who is against you, you have no business in politics.”
― Robert A. Caro, The Path to Power
Prograis needs to be in-front of viewers, Prograis is one of the best fighters, yet even with a belt, guys who were mandated to fight him are returning to ring before him. Jose Ramirez, right, and possibly Teofimo Lopez. The option left for Prograis if Ramirez doesn’t fight him again…Sandor Martin or possibly Jack Catterall. Those are interesting fights, but sadly fights that could fly under the radar, and limit his potential to get to that hall-of-fame level I see possible for him.
“Business goes out the window when you hate someone,” said Eddie Hearn to Radio Rahim of Seconds Out this week, and though he was speaking of another fight, it appears that might be not quite far from the truth.
The two businesses behind Prograis and Ramirez seemed to dislike one another, or at least find their counter-peer hard to bear. Prograis now has the enjoyable task of being a pioneer in a new era of 140 lbs division. He has talent, power and raw physical gifts, he's armed with a great coach, but if you know anything about boxing, you know fair isn’t a word used in the sport.
I couldn’t help but think of this quote by Machiavelli in my weekly readings of The Prince. I think about how I am constructing my life, and think back on Prograis’ future.
“It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.” – Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince
As beloved and reasonable as Prograis is, the longer he goes without a big fight in 2023, the more ammunition there is to attack his earning potential, discredit his recent achievements and leverage the situation. Despite being a world champion, Prograis is very much at the whims of his opponents.
We could lie and say the sport of boxing is about money, fame or storytelling, but boxing is really about combatting existential dread. It is about trying to do as much as possible to tell death you have to wait another day, and when I am gone you will still say my name. Knowing your fate is inevitable, but fighting back at every last second to show that your life truly mattered. To be the insidious designation ‘‘boxing lifer’ you have to know what it means to be alone – and being alone is a truly universal feeling. So anyone who makes to the top of the boxing world, in any capacity typically someone like myself can often relate to any-and-all, as alone is alone. The path might be different, but the journey and feelings are very similar.
Regis Prograis and Jose Ramirez are very similar. Ramirez, a small-town super-hero functioning as a big business in the Central Valley of California, whereas Prograis is the fighting pride of Louisiana, who is the most likable and reasonable boxing superstar we have seen in some time. Never have I ever seen a more humble world champion than Regis Prograis, besides maybe, Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero.
My version of the truth of Jose Ramirez and Regis Prograis not happening is simple. Both fighters want to fight – the Ramirez side just understands it is a daunting fight and they want adequate compensation, not just for the value they bring to the ring, but also to ensure if things go wrong, they can be finically secured, as a management team should take care. The Prograis side appears to be chasing legacy, going after all the great fighters of the era, but without a notable promoter or network, Prograis is struggling to entice any of the other champions or top names unless caving to some demands, as to my knowledge he doesn’t have a major network behind him. It is a unique situation–rarely have we seen a fighter and the last one I remember would be Bernard Hopkins, who held a middleweight world title, but struggled to get television dates. That seems to be the 2023 space that Regis Prograis oddly is in right now.