World champion boxer challenges Conor McGregor after 'Notorious' called out Mark Wahlberg, his manager

Kevin IoleCombat columnist
Yahoo Sports
Ex-UFC champion Conor McGregor (R), boxing Floyd Mayweather in 2017, has been called out by WBA super lightweight champion Regis Progra. (Photo by Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)
Ex-UFC champion Conor McGregor (R), boxing Floyd Mayweather in 2017, has been called out by WBA super lightweight champion Regis Progra. (Photo by Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

Former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion Conor McGregor has no shortage of possible opponents. In the UFC, lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, as well as Tony Ferguson, Donald Cerrone, Justin Gaethje and Nate Diaz all have a shot to face “The Notorious” in his next bout.

Former world champion Paulie Malignaggi, who sparred with McGregor in 2017 before McGregor’s bout with Floyd Mayweather, is angling for a fight with the Irish superstar because Malignaggi knows the payday such a bout would bring. Malignaggi and McGregor had a falling out and the differences between them have never been settled.

McGregor himself has called out actor Mark Wahlberg, a small investor in the UFC, several times.

McGregor’s words didn’t go unnoticed, however. Regis Prograis, the WBA super lightweight champion who is ranked No. 10 on the Yahoo Sports boxing pound-for-pound list, threw his name into the hat because he was angered by McGregor’s callout of Wahlberg.

Wahlberg is Prograis’ co-manager.

In a post on Instagram, Prograis offered to fight McGregor twice, once in boxing and once in MMA. Prograis’ wife is from Brazil and he has trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

He also has some wrestling experience, unlike Floyd Mayweather, whom McGregor boxed in a much ballyhooed 2017 fight.

Prograis (24-0, 20 KOs) is training for a bout in the finals of the World Boxing Super Series super lightweight tournament against IBF champion Josh Taylor (15-0, 12 KOs).

Prograis promoter Lou DiBella said it wasn’t out of the question that Prograis would beat McGregor not only in boxing but also in MMA.

“I give Regis a much greater chance of beating McGregor in MMA than I do of McGregor beating Regis in a boxing match,” DiBella said. “If he got into a ring with Regis, he wouldn’t get out of the sixth round.”

Prograis said he felt he would hurt McGregor in a boxing match. He said he felt he’d win an MMA bout because his striking is better than McGregor’s, though he conceded McGregor has good kicks.

Prograis, who said he would like to fight in the UFC one day, said he is friends with UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, who said he could train with him at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California.

Prograis said if the fight is made, he’ll train for the first part of the camp in Brazil and then later in San Jose at AKA.

“Of course, every active [boxing] champion around his weight would love to fight him, but I’m the only one who is willing to do MMA as well as boxing with him,” Prograis said. “ ... Honestly, I think I’d hurt him [in a boxing match]. I don’t think he’d be able to take my punches. Of course Floyd is one of the greatest ever, but I definitely don’t think Floyd has power like I do. I’m younger, I’m stronger and I don’t think he has the power like I carry.

“I have one-punch power in either hand. I think I’d hurt him, I really do. If it was a 10-round fight, I think I’d knock him out way before that. I’d do it real, real early.”

Prograis said he felt he might choke McGregor out in an MMA match. He said his friend who is living with him is a BJJ black belt who has been showing him things occasionally.

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