Regis Prograis and his team had to remind promoter Eddie Hearn which side was the champion at the outset of the announcement press conference for his next title defense.
“Start with the challenger,” Evins Tobler, Prograis’ strength and conditioning coach instructed Hearn at the start of their press conference Tuesday in San Francisco.
The session was intended to formally announce Prograis’ WBC junior welterweight title defense versus unified lightweight champion Devin Haney (30-0, 15KOs), who will move up in weight. Devin and especially his father, Bill Haney were quick to remind their opponent of the B-side role they will have to play in the buildup to the December 9 DAZN Pay-Per-View event.
“You got invited up here. Relax. You need to conduct yourself as a professional,” noted Bill Haney. “Let me help you understand something. Did anyone want to fight y’all? Tell the truth. How hard was it for you to get a fight?
“Don’t nobody want to deal with the real motherfuckin’ monster, Regis Prograis,” insisted Tobler. “You’re dealing with real men from the fuckin’ bottom. And we’re gonna bust your ass.”
“Exactly. Welcome to the Bay Area,” noted the elder Haney, who raised his son and family in Oakland before they relocated to Las Vegas. “That’s what we invited you to do. That’s what you’re gonna try to do.”
Prograis (29-1, 24KOs) will make the second defense of the WBC title he claimed in an eleventh-round knockout of Jose Zepeda last November 26 in Carson, California. He then outpointed Puerto Rico’s Danielito Zorrilla atop a June 17 DAZN show in his hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana.
The fight was Prograis’ first under a newly signed deal with Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing and was attended by Bill Haney, who was on site to ‘serve a warrant.’ The seed was planted at the time for a Prograis-Haney showdown, which the elder Haney suggested was in motion the moment Matchroom signed the two-time 140-pound titlist.
“He went out and did something I knew he would and that was sign Regis Prograis,” insisted Bill Haney. “ Eddie went out and signed him because he knew he had an ace in the hole in Devin Haney.
“Once he signed him, he knew Devin turned down no fade. We knew to have a fight in San Francisco, we needed someone tough. That’s why we brought in these clowns.”
Haney fights above lightweight for the first time in more than six years. He made seven defenses of the WBC 135-pound title and two as undisputed champ, including a May 20 points win over former three-division titlist Vasiliy Lomachenko atop an ESPN Pay-Per-View from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox