Josh Taylor beats Regis Prograis to unify super lightweight titles, calls out Jose Ramirez

Kevin IoleCombat columnist
Yahoo Sports
Josh Taylor (R) and Regis Prograis during the super-lightweight unification at the O2 Arena, London. (Getty Images)
Josh Taylor (R) and Regis Prograis during the super-lightweight unification at the O2 Arena, London. (Getty Images)

Whenever filmmakers do a movie on boxing, the fictional action is shown with the two men standing nose to nose, taking turns landing bombs on each other.

On Saturday in London, the movies came to real life. Josh Taylor and Regis Prograis planted themselves a couple of inches apart from each other in the center of the ring at O2 Arena in their bout in the finale of the World Boxing Super Series’ super lightweight tournament and began pounding away on each other.

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It was compelling, edge-of-the-seat stuff from a pair of elite unbeaten champions.

On this night, though, Taylor was just a bit better and pulled out a majority decision victory by scores of 117-112, 115-113 and 114-114. Yahoo Sports scored it 115-113 for Taylor.

Taylor did his best work in the middle of the fight, varying his attack and landing sharp combinations to the head and body. Both men showed the marks of battle, but Taylor’s right eye was badly swollen with a cut above his eyebrow.

He fell to the canvas in adulation when ring announcer Michael Buffer declared him the winner in one of the year’s best fights.

“What a fight!” Taylor said. “All respect to Regis Prograis; he’s a great fighter and a great fight champion, but the best man won tonight.”

Prograis, who is now 24-1, showed class in defeat. He thought he might have won but did not complain. He finished strong in the final two rounds, but gave credit to Taylor for his performance.

He said he hoped for a rematch one day, but acknowledged Taylor’s effort.

“No excuses, the better man won tonight,” Prograis said.

Taylor’s father-in-law died in mid-September, just as he was beginning training camp. His trainer, Shane McGuigan, was able to lend a shoulder to support his friend because McGuigan’s sister died in July after a battle with cancer.

Each had their difficult moments as they prepared, but Saturday was the day that eased a lot of the pain.

“We pulled each other through it,” said McGuigan, whose father, Barry, is a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame. “Moments like this make it all worthwhile.”

The difference in the fight might have been Taylor’s varied attack. Both men concentrated on working the body, but in the middle of the fight, Taylor began throwing combinations, going down and then bringing his shots to the head. Taylor landed quite a few wide hooks to the head as Prograis was crouched, leaning forward looking to attack his body.

Prograis began to throw more combinations in the final two rounds when his urgency increased and he realized he was trailing on the cards. He is one of the division’s best punchers and entered with 20 knockouts among his 24 wins.

While Taylor never went down or appeared shaken, he felt the shots.

“It was very good,” Taylor said of Prograis’ power. “He was very strong.”

Taylor was stinging Prograis, though, with clean, crisp shots throughout and put on a boxing masterclass. He proved he deserves to be ranked among the upper echelon of fighters in the world.

He entered the bout with the IBF belt and added Prograis’ WBC belt. He said he is eager to unify with WBC-WBO champion Jose Ramirez.

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