In 2019, former super lightweight champion Regis Prograis ran into Teofimo Lopez Sr. at a fight in Las Vegas. The elder Lopez was trying to talk Prograis into a fight with his son, Teofimo Lopez Jr. At the time, the younger Lopez was a promising prospect but hadn’t yet won a world title.
A fight with my son is going to make you rich, Lopez Sr. told Prograis.
Prograis grinned and said, “I’m already rich.”
Prograis is different in so many ways than your typical professional boxer, and this is just another of them. He hasn’t fought in just over a year, since a compelling fight in a super lightweight title unification bout that he lost to Josh Taylor last October.
He hasn’t fought since, though he was twice supposed to fight Maurice Hooker. Once, the bout was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, and the second time because of Hooker having trouble agreeing upon a weight.
On Saturday, when Prograis fights Juan Heraldez on the undercard of the Gervonta Davis-Leo Santa Cruz show at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, it will be his first fight since that agonizingly close loss to Taylor.
When you don’t get paid for a year, it can have an adverse impact, but not so for Prograis.
“It’s been tough not [fighting and getting paid], but at the same time, it really hasn’t,” he said. “I save my money. I save a lot. I guess I’m smarter with money than most people. I make sure I save for years and years in advance for my lifestyle, so even if I didn’t fight for two years, I’d be OK.
“I basically don’t spend my money, because I’ve been in boxing for a while and I know how boxing is. It’s sporadic and you never know what’s going to happen and you only have so long you can do this. I’m going to live a long time and so I think before I do anything with my money. That’s why I’m OK.”
Prograis figures to have some big-money paydays in the near future. He’s one of the best in the hot super lightweight division and hopes for a fight with the winner of the Taylor-Jose Ramirez fight which will happen sometime early next year.
He is a free agent after this fight, and said he’s keeping his options open so that he can do what will be most advantageous for himself and his career.
He didn’t rule out signing a long-term deal with the Premier Boxing Champions, but he said that Top Rank, which promotes both Ramirez and Taylor, could be a possibility, too.
Not only is he wise with his money, he’s got a shrewd boxing mind and understands the business well. He is a competitor and wants to make the big fights.
He’d also be interested in that bout with the younger Lopez, who earlier this month unified the lightweight belts by routing Vasiliy Lomachenko. Prograis said size may make that one a hard fight to put together — “I’m a big hundred-forty-pounder,” he said — but he knows there would be good money in it.
While he awaits one of those names, he’ll take what is essentially a tune-up fight against Heraldez, though Heraldez has been talking a good game.
“It’s just good to be back in there doing what I love to do,” Prograis said. “I don’t think he’s on my level, but if you don’t take every opponent you face seriously, that’s when you run into problems. I’m not taking anything away from him and I guarantee you, I won’t take him lightly. If I was taking him lightly, I wouldn’t have worked as hard as I have done.”
Ultimately, his goal is to be a world champion and so he wants to impress against Heraldez to remind fans who may have forgotten and to set himself up for his next deal.
He’s going to approach his next contract much like he approaches managing his money.
“I love the sport aspect of this and you know me, I watch fights and read about fights and I love so much about boxing,” he said. “But this is a business, too, and if you forget that, you’ll get run over. This is how I make my living. So I’ll just take one step at a time and once I get past this fight, look at the landscape and make the smartest decision I can.”
More from Yahoo Sports: