CARSON — Regis Prograis is the best junior welterweight in the world.
Prograis became a two-time world champion on Saturday night when he knocked out Jose Zepeda in the 11th round of a surefire Fight of the Year candidate for the vacant WBC junior welterweight world championship
The 33-year-old Prograis, who held the WBA 140-pound title before losing to Josh Taylor in October 2019, scored the KO just 59 seconds into the 11th frame moments after flooring Zepeda in a bout that turned out to be an absolute war.
“Man [Zepeda] was tough. Jose Zepeda was definitely tough. I would have never thought that fight would have went that way,” Prograis said. “I really take my hat off to him. I really feel like he will be a world champion [someday], but it’s just not his night tonight.”
In the opening round, Zepeda dictated the pace behind his jab, doubling up on the shot before landing with a right cross. Prograis connected with a solid counter left to the body late in the round.
It was more of the same in round two as Zepeda cracked Prograis with a left hand that sent sweat flying out of the ring. By the end of the frame, Prograis' cheekbones were both swollen.
However, Prograis (28-1, 24 KOs), in round three, forced Zepeda to the ropes with a powerful left hand. However, Zepeda took the shot well.
The tide shifted in Prograis’ favor as the bell rung to begin the fourth round. Prograis and Zepeda stopped boxing and decided to slug. However, Prograis, a Louisiana native based in Houston, Texas, opened up a cut around Zepeda’s left eye.
The fifth frame was a competitive one. Prograis pushed Zepeda back with the jab. But Zepeda still found success with the left, popping Prograis with a left hook upstairs coming out of the clinch, and a series of lefts towards the end of the round.
Prograis reverted back to being a boxer to start the seventh round. He circled his way around the ring, sticking Zepeda in the face with his right jab. The two 33-year-old southpaws continued to go toe-to-toe, but at the midway point, Prograis cracked Zepeda with a right-left combination before he was warned by referee Ray Corona for an accidental head butt.
In the 10th frame, Prograis controlled a bulk of the action until Zepeda buzzed him in the final seconds with a left hook. Prograis, who was bleeding from his right ear, charged at Zepeda, who opted to tie up.
The decision from Zepeda not to capitalize on a potentially wounded opponent turned out to be a poor decision. Prograis rocked Zepeda with a left hand and finished him off against the ropes with a series of thunderous.
“I thought that I was probably going to [stop him earlier] because he was cut. But of course, he has [Jacob] “Stitch” Duran, so they got that stuff under [control] real quick,” Prograis laughed. “I don’t know even know [the punch that landed to cause the knockout].
“I’ll have to look at the video. It just happened.”
Speaking with LegendzTV, Prograis wants a rematch with former undisputed 140-pound titleholder Josh Taylor (19-0, 13 KOs), who handed Prograis his lone defeat back in October 2019.
Scotland’s Taylor has since relinquished three belts, leaving him with just the WBO strap.
“[I believe I’m a step above Josh Taylor], I do. Listen, I want my [revenge] more than anything, but I feel like I’m the man in the division. I do want to fight him again, but I do feel like I’m better than him.
“We’ll see. We’ll see what happens. I been feeling like that. I told you. This [victory] was not a surprise. I been feeling like I’m the best at 140. I been feeling like that. It’s sad in boxing to where you take a loss and I still feel like [I beat Taylor] but you take a loss and people sweep you under the rug. I had to climb my way out of hell and I’m back here.”
After evaluating Taylor’s last two fights, Prograis believes the rematch won’t be close.
“If the fight presents itself, then, yeah, I’d definitely beat him for sure.”
In the chief support contest, Yokasta Valle became a three-division world champion with a 10-round majority decision over previously unbeaten two-belt junior flyweight titleholder Evelin Bermudez.
With the win, Valle (27-2, 9 KOs), a Nicaragua native fighting out of Costa Rica, snagged the IBF and WBO 108-pound title belts.
The fight was close for the first half, but Valle began targeting the Argentinian's body in the second half and Bermudez (17-1-1, 6 KOs) visibly slowed.
By the ninth round, Bermudez's mouth was open, and she struggled to deal with Valle's relentless pressure.
Valle has now won world titles at atomweight, strawweight, and junior flyweight.
Unbeaten 2020 Olympic gold medalist Bakhodir Jalolov dropped Curtis Harper twice en-route to a stoppage
Rising junior middleweight contender Charles Conwell overcame a headbutt that caused blood to stream down the right side of his face throughout the bout to outpoint Juan Carlos Abreu via 10-round majority decision.
To kickoff the LegendzTV PPV card, Fernando Vargas Jr. annihilated Alejandro Martinez in a second-round KO. The son of former world champion Fernando Vargas, "El Feroz" floored Martinez twice before crashing face-first on the final knockdown, referee Ray Corona to wave off the fight.
On the undercard, Nathan Rodriguez dropped a brave Jerson Ortiz twice en route to an eight-round unanimous decision victory. Lightweight Eduardo Estela (14-1, 9 KOs) scored an upset eight-round split decision over previously unbeaten Ruben Torres (20-1, 16 KOs) remained unbeaten with an eight-round unanimous decision over a game Eduardo Estela (13-2, 9 KOs) 126-pounder Amado Fernando Vargas (5-0, 2 KOs) and Osmar Olmos (1-2) slugged out for the entirety of their four-round bout. At the end, Vargas was awarded a unanimous decision to remain undefeated.
Austin Brooks (9-0, 3 KOs) picked up a third-round TKO over Jesus Roman (8-6, 3 KOs).