As a decorated amateur boxer who trained under Evander Holyfield, Regis Prograis seemed destined to hold professional gold sooner rather than later, and he turned those predictions into reality by earning the WBA super lightweight championship in 2019.
But having lost the title in his first defense after a heartbreaking defeat on points against Josh Taylor, the man from New Orleans, LA, vowed to reclaim his spot at the top. In November, 2022, Prograis made good on that promise by knocking out Jose Zepeda to claim the vacant WBC super-lightweight title. This Saturday (June 17), Prograis will defend his title in his hometown for the first time.
M&F sat down with the southpaw, 34, to find out what he’s picked up from some of the greats, and why he gives everything that he’s got when it comes to training for a fight.
Anyone who has tuned into Prograis’ entertaining training vlogs on YouTube will know that the champ likes to start each and every day with a run. “Fasted cardio, bro, always,” says the fighter of his routine. “I never train on a full stomach. I always fast.” Prograis says that some boxers like to eat a big breakfast before they train, but that’s not for him. In fact, it’s often around 2 p.m. before this athlete finally sits down for his first meal. “I’ve been doing that for years. It just works for me,” he shares.
As a super-lightweight, Prograis says that he feels comfortable in the weight class, but having hired a nutritionist just over a year ago, he’s never felt better about making the weight before a bout than he does now. To hit his macros, the champ supplements with protein shakes (with water, not milk) and adds a touch of honey for sweetness. “Boxing is old school, and you know a lot of trainers, they don’t know about nutrition,” says Prograis. “And, once you get on a higher level, you just understand, nutrition is just everything.” The fighter says that in the past he’d resorted to sitting in sauna’s before weigh-ins or simply not eating, but now he follows the advice of his nutritionist and only eats what has been approved.
Regis Prograis Trains to Become an Immoveable Object
While Prograis must stay below 140 pounds to fit within his weight class, this boxer is becoming an immovable object when it comes to dominating from the centre of the ring. To achieve this, the fighter devotes much of his time to training legs. “I do a lot of stuff,” says than man also known as “Rougarou” (Louisiana French for “werewolf” in homage to his grandfather of Native American descent). “So, I run long distance, I run sprints and I run the stairs too. And then, on top of that we do swimming and a lot of leg exercises too.” When it comes to hitting the pool, Prograis mixes things up with varied sessions. Sometime he’ll do sprint work, and other days the boxer will swim long distance. He also works on his lung capacity by swimming under water.
Regis Prograis Learns from the Legends Who Came Before Him
If you see the WBC super lightweight champ out on one of his runs, you may notice that he likes to wear army boots. He’s been doing that almost since the very beginning of his career. “In the military, you know, they train, they run miles and miles in combat boots. I kinda do the same thing,” he shares, explaining the motivation behind this method of training. “All of the great fighters of the past, they used to do it, so that’s really the only reason I do it … like, from Ray Robinson, Harry Armstrong, Joe Louis and George Foreman, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, I mean the list goes on and on, you know, everybody running in boots and I don’t know when we started coming away from it … but that’s something I still do.”
The champ has also learned that recovery is a key aspect of getting into prime condition between fights, noting that in the beginning of his pro career, he was always sore. 30 minutes before our interview, Prograis says that he was in his cold plunge tub, and feels that it revives him to the point where he’s feeling great. “Of course, you have to get adequate sleep,” notes the champ. “You get massages, you know, all those types of things.” Prograis is always hungry for knowledge and says that he picked up the tip of taking regular naps from “The Fighters Mind” by Sam Sheridan. “Recovery is super important because, I mean, if you feel bad, you won’t be able to train,” he explains.
From sparring to swimming, running to lifting weights, Prograis trains at least three times per day. In the gym, the fighter works on explosive power, noting that he does a lot of squats. “We do a lot of ball slams,” he adds, sharing that he also does a lot of stepping and punching while wearing a resistance band too. It’s a relentless pursuit with the aim of proving that he’s the best in the world, and on June 17, he’ll get to earn closure on that 2019 title loss by defending the WBC gold at an arena he’s driven past thousands of times; The Smoothie King Center. There, he (28-1-0) will face Danielito Zorrilla (17-1-0) before a hometown crowd and tells M&F that after that previous loss, he dedicated himself to training harder, and smarter, to reclaim his position. “I’m headlining, and I’m from there,” says Prograis, proudly. “Man, this is massive.” Right now, of course, the champ says that he’s too focussed on the fight to let it all sink in, but he certainly has victory in his sights. “After the fight, it’ll hit me what I accomplished.”
Regis “Rougarou” Prograis defends the WBC super lightweight title against Danielito Zorrilla live on DAZN, June 17.