Trainer Shane McGuigan has accused American Regis Prograis of being more interested in becoming a superstar than a boxing icon.
McGuigan, regarded as one of the best in the business, who has been mentoring Josh Taylor for the past four years, believes the undefeated Prograis is motivated by wealth and stardom over his performances in the ring.
The duo are putting their IBF and WBA super lightweight titles on the line tonight when they face off in the final of the World Boxing Super Series at London’s O2 Arena where, not only will the winner unify the division, he will also add the Ring Magazine belt and Muhammad Ali Trophy to his collection.
McGuigan has the utmost respect for Prograis’ unblemished record of 24 victories but believes he has faced nowhere near the calibre of opponent that Prestonpans’ Taylor has had to overcome to reach the pinnacle of the sport.
To add fuel to the fire, the son of former WBA featherweight champion and Hall of Famer Barry McGuigan, says the New Orleans native is more concerned about where his next pay cheque is coming from.
“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 explained. “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.”
With a training camp stretching the best part of 15 weeks in preparation for tonight’s duel, McGuigan is confident Taylor will prove he is the best 140lb fighter in the world on the biggest stage of all.
“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.”
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