Rising star Regis Prograis wanted to bring big-time boxing to NOLA and Erick De Leon, Charles Conwell and Jean Carlos Rivera helped the hometown kid accomplish his mission
New Orleans showed up at Lakefront Arena to support and watch hometown Super Lightweight Regis “Rougarou” Prograis defend his interim WBC title against Argentina’s Juan Jose Velasco. Prograis did his part, methodically breaking down Velasco over eight rounds before the Argentine finally succumbed to the effects of Prograis’ punishing body attack.
Prograis’ bout was preceded by 20-year old phenom Teofimo Lopez, the new WBC Continental Americas Lightweight champion, who added a sense of spectacle with his sensational six-round devastation of one-loss veteran William Silva followed by a spirited celebration punctuated by Lopez’s signature back flip. Could the kid have known MLB’s Home Run Derby airs this week on ESPN?
However, at the conclusion of the successful feature and co-feature bouts, Prograis also expressed his gratitude in accomplishing his second objective of treating New Orleans boxing fans to a great night of sweet science action. Some promising prospects delivered some impressive performances that advanced their young careers, and in turn helped out the hometown star.
Detroit-based Super Featherweight Erick De Leon got off to a fast start in round one before being caught by a counter right-left combination that scored a knock down for Mexico’s Adrian Young. Typically when fighters go down face-forward it’s a bad omen, but De Leon got up quickly and finished the last moments of the round.
De Leon and Young ended up going the distance with the undefeated De Leon collecting rounds behind his quickness and a varied attack with his left hand. The Mexican gradually fell behind in the fight as De Leon made some subtle adjustments in defending Young’s counter punching and nullified his 4-inch reach advantage.
De Leon’s creativity with his entrances into the pocket in the third round, coupled with some well-timed left uppercuts in the fourth round provided the contrast between the class of the two fighters. Young rallied in the early parts of round seven and eight, but his power never had the same effect as his combination in the first stanza.
De Leon clearly made some improvements from his majority draw outing against northern California’s Andy Vences back in March. He cruised to a unanimous decision, earning his 18th win behind cards of 97-92, 97-92 and 98-91.
Cleveland, Ohio Super Welterweight Charles Conwell, a 2016 U.S. Olympian, overcame a confident first round from rangy 37-year old Travis Scott – a Baton Rouge native. Scott stood his ground over the first three minutes, not allowing 20-year old Buckeye to push him backwards, and he landed some good shots underneath as Conwell overlooked his defense.
Conwell quickly got in through the front door in the opening of the second round, peppering the taller Scott with several clean shots. With the action in the center of the ring, Conway shifted back to create some space to place a left hook to Scott’s body just above the belt line. Conwell’s shot arrived a split-second before a wider Scott left hook that became a distant memory as Scott knelt on one knee while the referee reached the count of ten.
The knockout secured Conwell’s eighth victory, and ended a two-fight drought of stopping bouts inside the distance. So much for a kid from B1G country being too slow for a SEC product.
Featherweight Jean Carlos Rivera may have matched Teofimo Lopez with night’s best “suddenness.” The 22-year old from Orlando, Florida only needed 80 seconds to dismantle late replacement Angel Luna of the Dominican Republic. Rivera lunged in with a beautiful lead left hook that caught Angel flush on the button. He patiently stalked the badly hurt Luna, strafing the Dominican with a variety of power punches while staying mindful enough to avoid a desperation shot himself, as he moved forward to close the show.
The ref stepped in to halt the bout just as Luna started to head downwards into the ropes after taking too much punishment. The surgical performance captured the young Puerto Rican his 14th win and ninth knockout.
In one of the earliest bouts available for streaming on the ESPN+ App, Top Rank undefeated Super Lightweight Fazliddin Gaibnazarov went eight rounds and handed Kevin Johnson his first professional loss. Johnson excelled at times early in the bout, fighting well off the back foot once he got into a good rhythm, and as Gaibnazarov found some difficulty in overcoming the Mayweather Boxing Club product’s length.
The fight was well-fought, but Gaibnazarov solved some things over the course of the fight, and outworked Johnson enough to move his record to five wins as he swept the three judges’ cards 78-74.
All photos by Mikey Williams/Top Rank