A distinguished amateur boxer who trained under Evander Holyfield, Regis Prograis seemed destined to win pro gold sooner rather than later, and he turned those predictions into reality by winning the 2019 WBA super lightweight championship.
But after losing the title in his first defense following a heartbreaking points loss to Josh Taylor, the New Orleans, LA man vowed to reclaim his place at the top. In vember 2022, Prograis made good on that promise by knocking out Jose Zepeda and securing the vacant WBC super lightweight title. This Saturday (June 17) Prograis will defend his title for the first time in his hometown.
M&F sat down with the southpaw, 34, to find out what he's learned from some of the all-time greats and why he's giving everything he can when it comes to training for a fight.
Anyone who has followed Prograis' entertaining training vlogs on YouTube knows that the champion likes to start each day with a run. "Cardio on an empty stomach, bro, always," the fighter says of his routine. "I never train on a full stomach. I'm always fasting.” Prograis says some boxers like to eat a big breakfast before training, but that's not for him. In fact, it's often only around 2 p.m. before this athlete finally sits down for his first meal. "I've been doing this for years. It just works for me,” he shares.
As a super-lightweight, Prograis says he's comfortable in the weight class, but after hiring a nutritionist a little over a year ago, he's never felt better about hitting pre-fight weight than he does now. To achieve its macros, the champion supplements protein shakes (with water, not milk) and adds a touch of honey for sweetness. "Boxing is old-fashioned and a lot of coaches don't have a clue about nutrition," says Prograis. "And once you get to a higher level, you just understand that nutrition is everything." The fighter says he's resorted to going to the sauna before weigh-ins or just not eating, but now he follows his nutritionist's advice and only eats what's approved.
Regis Prograis trains to become an immovable object
While Prograis has to stay under 140 pounds to fit in his weight class, this boxer becomes an immovable object when it comes to dominating from the center of the ring. To achieve this, the fighter devotes much of his time to leg training. "I do a lot of stuff," says the man, also known as "Rougarou" (Louisiana French for "werewolf", in homage to his Native American grandfather). "So I run long distances, I run sprints and I run stairs too. And we also swim and do a lot of leg exercises.” When it comes to going to the pool, Prograis makes sure that there is a variety of sessions. Sometimes he does sprint work, and other days the boxer swims long distances. He also trains his lung capacity by swimming underwater.
Chansey Augustine/Team Prograis
Regis Prograis learns from the legends that came before him
If you catch the WBC super lightweight champion at one of his runs, you might notice that he likes to wear army boots. He's been doing it almost since the beginning of his career. “In the military they train, they walk for miles in combat boots. I kind of do the same thing,” he explains the motivation behind this training method. "All the great fighters of the past have done it, so that's really the only reason I'm doing it ... Ray Robinson, Harry Armstrong, Joe Louis and George Foreman, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, I mean the list goes on forever, you know, everyone walks in boots and I don't know when we stopped doing that...but it's something I still do."
The champion has also learned that recovery is a key aspect of being in peak condition between fights, pointing out that he always suffered from sore muscles early in his pro career. 30 minutes before our interview, Prograis says he's been in his cold soaking tub and feels like it's making him recover so much, he feels great. "Of course you have to get enough sleep," emphasizes the champion. "You get massages, you know, all those things." Always curious, Prograis says he took the tip about napping regularly from Sam Sheridan's The Fighters Mind. "Recovery is super important because when you're feeling down you can't train," he explains.
From sparring to swimming, from running to weightlifting, Prograis trains at least three times a day. In the gym, the fighter trains his explosive power and does a lot of squats. "We do a lot of ball slams," he adds, sharing that he also does a lot of steps and punches while also wearing a resistance band. It's a relentless pursuit of the goal to prove he's the best in the world, and on June 17 he'll be able to wrap up the 2019 title loss by defending the WBC gold in an arena he's competed in thousands of times has passed. The Smoothie King Center. There he (28-1-0) faces Danielito Zorrilla (17-1-0) in front of a crowd in his hometown and tells M&F that after the previous loss he has committed to training harder and smarter to reclaim his position. "I'm a headliner and I'm from there," says Prograis proudly. "Man, that's massive." Right now, of course, the champion says he's too focused on the fight to let it all sink in, but he definitely has his sights set on victory. "After the fight, I will realize what I have achieved."
Regis "Rougarou" Prograis defends WBC super lightweight title against Danielito Zorrilla live on DAZN, June 17.