WBSS Preview: Prograis vs. Flanagan; Baranchyk vs. Yigit
By: Ste Rowen
‘‘You walk up the street and people ask you ‘Did you win your fight?’ and you have to say no for the first time. ‘‘
Defeat never comes easy for an undefeated fighter. Terry Flanagan, the former WBO lightweight champion was 33-0 (13KOs) when he stepped into the ring with Maurice Hooker, at Manchester Arena four months ago.
The north west native known as ‘Turbo’ isn’t the prettiest boxer even at his dominant best – see his WBO defences since winning the belt against the likes of Derry Matthews, Mzonke Fana and what felt like a never-ending bout with Petr Petrov. But the one running theme through Terry’s fights seemed to be the feeling he was a level above each and every opponent he faced.
Photo Credit: DAZN Twitter Account
Then he took the step up to super-lightweight after failing to secure unifications with the likes of former champions, Anthony Crolla, Jorge Linares and current 135lb titlist, Lomachenko. Manager Steve Wood and promoter Frank Warren maneuvered ‘Turbo’ into a position to fight for the vacant 140lb strap, recently dropped by the undisputed, Terence Crawford, and after a delay caused by a hand injury for Flanagan, Hooker and Terry were set to meet on the 9th June.
On fight night in June, southpaw, Flanagan looked out of sorts while his American foe was composed and patient. ‘Turbo’ constantly led in with his head, which it was revealed after the fight, had the adverse effect and not just for the viewers. Terry apparently sustained a concussion from the clashing of heads and suffered through the final rounds as Hooker took pot-shots off the southpaw’s face to seal a unanimous decision win for the American.
Terry lost, but months later, managed to seal his spot in the Super Series and have an opportunity for immediate redemption. Now Flanagan travels to New Orleans to face another America. Unbeaten WBC champion and #1 seed of the tournament, Regis Prograis.
‘‘They’re expecting to wipe the floor with me but it’s not gonna be the case…I see the fight against Prograis as 50/50 with us both having our own strengths, but I just think my assets stop his and therefore I win. I think what I bring to the table neutralise his strengths and that is the difference. I expect to get the credit I duly deserve after winning this fight.”
“The world boxing series is a new chapter…I believe I’m the best fighter on the planet on my day and I’m looking to show that in this tournament.‘‘
Regis Prograis has had a quick rise into boxing stardom. A former standout amateur who always aims to please, Prograis is one of two current WBC 140lb champions – Jose Ramirez being the other – ‘Rougarou’ as Prograis is otherwise known by, has a record of 22-0 (19KOs) including impressive stoppage victories over Joel Diaz Jr, Hector Velazquez and arguably his biggest win to date, a 2nd round TKO of former unified champion, Julius Indongo.
“All my fights are explosive no matter who is in front of me. I always bring the fireworks.”
In all three of the mentioned bouts Regis displayed not just the power that makes him an obvious fan favourite and the tournament’s top seed, but outstanding boxing fundamentals. A thudding single jab, the continuous fluid head & body movement and the devastating efficiency with which once he senses the opportunity for an early finish, ‘Rougarou’ goes hard on the accelerator.
“Flanagan is a really tough dude, a former world champion. I want to fight top competition and that is why I picked him. I know I am good, but I never look at myself as the favourite…I am the number one in the world and everyone fighting me sees me as a big opportunity.”
Saturday’s venue is the Lakefront Arena in Prograis’ native home of New Orleans, and the way Regis is talking, it could be a long journey to nothing for Flanagan,
“I am the number 1 seed so of course there is pressure on me, but I feel a lot better than last time I fought in New Orleans, where it felt like work and the pressure weighed on me a bit. This time I think the pressure is out of the window. This time it is going back to being fun.”
“This is not just a boxing show, when I fight in New Orleans it is a big-time event.”
A fight in the semi-finals against WBA champion, Kiryl Relikh awaits.
Ivan Baranchyk vs. Anthony Yigit
Also on Saturday’s card is the 3rd super-lightweight quarter final between two unbeaten fighters, Ivan Baranchyk vs. Anthony Yigit with the vacant IBF belt on the line.
18-0 (11KOs), Baranchyk of Belarus has been progressing at the perfect pace ever since making his move the US. ‘The Beast’s’ first three pro bouts were in Minsk before he set flight to America and began to build his name against limited opposition. From 2015 Ivan’s quality of opposition rose, as did his performances as he picked up victories over the likes of a 17-1-2, Abel Ramos but more recently, a superb dismantling of Petr Petrov in March on the undercard of Prograis/Indongo.
The manner of the victory more than the win itself solidified Baranchyk’s status as future world title contender, and his attitude toward the sport backs that up,
“I’ve never known and couldn’t even imagine life without boxing…If there is no competition I simply just cannot live without it.”
Ivan may be known as the beast, but he’s more than willing to show his versatility as his pro career progresses,
“My boxing style is aggressive. I’m constantly attacking, fighting to the very end…I’m trying to learn the Cuban way of boxing as it is respected all over the world. Pedro (Diaz) is one of the best coaches in the world and I want learn everything from him.”
“Anthony Yigit is a good boxer, a good fighter…I know all his strengths and weaknesses. I’ve been waiting for him for a long time and on the 27th I will destroy him in the ring.”
The big talk from the Belarussian is unlikely to have an effect on his Swedish opponent, and fellow unbeaten fighter, Anthony Yigit. Speaking in the WBSS pre-fight documentary, the Swede, currently 21-0-1 (7KOs), isn’t short of self-belief,
“I’m a nice guy here but if you go into the ring with me I know you’re in my way of me reaching that goal of where I want to be. When I started boxing I believed I was gonna become a world champion…In Sweden we have nine million people and no world champion. I’m gonna be one in nine million.”
Yigit, a former 2012 Olympian where he was beaten by Ukrainian, Denys Berinchyk, has shown so far in the pro ranks that if he lacks anything, it’s probably power, but the Stockholm southpaw has no intention of losing to another man with ‘chyk’ in his name,
“When I saw Usyk lift the Ali trophy I said, ‘That’s where I wanna be’ and that’s where I’m gonna be! … People have been telling me they can see something in my eyes, something that wasn’t there before.”
Winner of this matchup will go on to face either Josh Taylor or Ryan Martin, who fight next week in Glasgow.
Check out the WBSS pre-fight documentaries for both of Saturdays bouts here; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYbJzjdzbAA