By Vince D’Writer: Nicknamed “The Big Easy,” New Orleans has been the host city to many iconic championship boxing events in the past, and on June 17th, New Orleans native WBC super-lightweight champion Regis Prograis along with promoter Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing, are bringing big time boxing back to the champ’s hometown, as he’s set to defend his title against Danielito Zorrilla.
The last time Prograis fought in New Orleans was back in October 2018 at the Lakefront Arena. In his quarterfinals matchup at the World Boxing Super Series, Prograis defeated Terry Flanagan by way of unanimous decision.
Six months later, in the semi-final round of the series, Regis Prograis became the WBA super-lightweight world champion when he stopped Kiryl Relikh in the 6th round. Prograis advanced to the finals and made an attempt to become a unified champion, but unfortunately, he lost to Josh Taylor by way of majority decision.
Prograis experienced a time period that was filled with frustration and a lack of relevant boxing contests. Finally, in November 2022, he received the chance to fight for a title, and he took advantage of the opportunity by knocking out Jose Zepeda in the 11th round and capturing the vacant WBC super-lightweight strap.
Now the two-time champion Regis “Rougarou” Prograis (28-1, 24 KOs) is set to make his first title defense in his hometown against 29-year-old Danielito Zorrilla (17-1, 13 KOs). Prograis is excited about his opportunity to defend his WBC title in New Orleans at the Smoothie King Center live on DAZN.
“The last time I fought in New Orleans, it was nice, but this is the Smoothie King Center. It’s on a different level, and I’m ecstatic,” the 34-year-old WBC champion stated.
Prograis went on to say, “You can’t soak up the moment too much because I still have to go out there and fight. I still need to do that, but it’s really a dream come true because coming up when I first started boxing, I wanted to fight there. It was a two-part dream, fight at the Smoothie King Center and then at the Superdome, so this is the first big step towards doing something huge in my city.”
Back in September 1978, Muhammad Ali would get his vindication in a rematch versus Leon Spinks at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, as he won by unanimous decision and became the first boxer to win the heavyweight title for a third time.
A couple of years later, two phenomenal welterweights that were half of the quartet who would later be known as the ‘Four Kings,’ had their second bout in the Superdome in New Orleans. On November 25, 1980, Sugar Ray Leonard got his revenge against Roberto Duran in the infamous “No Mas” bout.
At one point in time, New Orleans was a boxing town, but the prominence of boxing in The Big Easy gradually faded away. Now Regis Prograis is ready to plant a seed and rekindle big time boxing events in his hometown.
“We did the Lakefront in 2018, but this is big. Eddie said listen, if we do good, we’re going to keep coming back. So that’s why we need everyone to come out because it can be a regular thing. This used to be a boxing town, but it faded away over the years, so if we do good, I think this will become a regular thing.”
In the grand scheme of things, Regis Prograis wants to defend his title a few times, then unify the division, all while reviving the boxing scene in his hometown. His mission begins on Saturday night, June 17th, at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans.