Regis Prograis’ new dawn, at the age of 34, with Matchroom has been threatened by Devin Haney’s. He discusses his opponent on Saturday, the cost that has come with preparing for him, and who he really believes Eddie Hearn wants to win, with Declan Warrington 

BN: After you struggled against Danielito Zorrilla in June you said that the pressure of fighting in your home city of New Orleans had contributed to your performance. Does fighting Devin Haney in San Francisco put the same pressure on him?

RP: Devin Haney’s not from there. He keeps saying it’s his hometown. He’s not from there; he was born there but he was raised in Henderson, Nevada. Maybe his family’s from there. But I’m actually from New Orleans – in New Orleans we’re all connected. That’s the difference between him and the Bay Area; I’m connected to New Orleans. It’s a big difference.

Maybe he does [feel under pressure]. Maybe he doesn’t. I don’t know how he’s going to feel. I can’t worry about how Devin feels – I’m just worried about me. 

California you have a tax; in Nevada there’s no state taxes, so you have to pay taxes on fighting out here. The fight was supposed to be out here but I guess no venues was available so that’s why we couldn’t fight in Nevada.

[But] if you got a good team – accountants and all that stuff – it shouldn’t matter. We’ll figure it out. Obviously I’m having to pay taxes and stuff like that – it is what it is; we gotta pay taxes to live in this country – so I’m not really worried about it.

I’m comfortable in California. I used to live here – I won my second title here when I fought [in 2022, Jose] Zepeda. I feel good about it. I lived here; I trained here. I could have protested. When they said “We’re gonna fight in the Bay Area” – my contract actually says I’m fighting in New Orleans or Houston. But I like California.

BN: What did you think of Haney so recently vacating his remaining lightweight titles?

RP: It’s mind games – maybe overconfidence – but it’s mind games. The Haneys try to play every mind trick they can. But it actually makes me stronger – [which is] what they don’t understand. Another thing, I got tested six times for this fight – six times. They came last week – people keep coming; keep testing me. That’s a sign of “You might be scared”. “You think I’m cheating so you’re scared of me.” That’s another mind game, but it’s playing into my mind, because it’s making me more and more confident. “You doing all this stuff,” they playing mind games, “you can’t play that with me”. I don’t care about it. All that stuff make me stronger. They’re not in charge [of the drug testing] but why so many times? Six times? Did Floyd [Mayweather] and [Manny] Pacquiao even get tested six times? This is crazy. Four of ‘em was blood and urine. I don’t think they’re in charge [of testing] but they definitely could have put in there “We gonna test this many times; test him; test him; test him”. Why six times? That’s crazy. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be seven or eight times [by fight night]. It’s crazy.

A week before the fight they doing that stuff. Bill [Haney, Devin’s father, trainer and manager] tries to play those mind games. It maybe worked on a previous opponent.

Haney against Vasiliy Lomachenko (Getty Images)

BN: You’ve changed your routine to prepare for this fight out of California…

RP: This is a big fight. I sacrificed more. My dad [Vidal] was like, “Man, if you get this fight you need to stay in California the whole time”. That’s kinda what I did. When I started hearing his name – rumblings – I started training in [Houston] Texas. Then I came out here way before camp started; I was working; I was sparring. I came out here for a month and I went back to Texas for three weeks and I came out here the rest of the time. It’s really been like a four-month camp. All the sacrifices I’m doing; dedicating myself more. I [typically] came out here to California and did two or three weeks, but this time it was a whole camp. 

It’s being separated from my family. It’s hard, bro – it’s really hard. I haven’t seen my kids in a long time. Me and my wife [Raquel] is beefin’ right now – we ain’t even talking. It’s hard. It really is hard. I’m not gonna lie – I say the wrong stuff sometimes. Tensions are real high right now, and I take it out on her and stuff. That’s kinda why.

When I come out here, man, when you in training camp you just – training. That’s it. There’s nothing else. I train three times a day. I train; I eat; I sleep. I train; I play a video game or something like that. That’s all I do. When I’m at home I’m a family man so I’m taking my kids to their practices; I’m with my kids all the time; I’m doing stuff. I want to be there for my kids. When I’m here, I’m literally just focused on training.

BN: Bill Haney watched Josh Taylor-Teofimo Lopez, and then your victory over Zorrilla, and they then signed to fight you…

RP: It’s normal. He was scouting. That’s what he does. He’s good at that, and, you know, they chose me. It’s an insult. But it’s a good insult. It’s definitely an insult, but I embrace this – this is one of the biggest fights of my career because I came off a bad win, so it’s cool to me.

BN: You typically thrive against come-forward fighters, and Haney isn’t typically a come-forward fighter…

RP: I don’t think it’s going to be a problem. I really don’t see this being a hard fight. I really don’t, man. I been working with these guys out here in California, and I think that they’re actually better than Haney. I been sparring with bigger guys; faster guys; definitely have way more power than him. I been just doing what I need to do, so I really can’t see it being that hard a fight. Once I start landing it’s not going to be that hard of a fight.

I don’t think he’s going to come to me, but he might [try to] stand his ground. I’m prepared for if he wants to stay there; if he wants to move; even if he turns southpaw, I’m ready for it. That’s just how confident I’m feeling. I never did a camp like this before, like so long and working so, so much. That’s why I’m feeling so confident. “Whatever – whatever you do.” I keep stepping my game up. 

BN: How good a fighter is he?

RP: He’s good. I’m not gonna mess with him – he’s good, that’s it. He gets hit; he’s not defensive like I think people think he is. He was big at 135 and I think he had success because of that, and I do think he has quick feet; he has a good jab, but at the same time he doesn’t have too much power. He’s good. I respect him for that. But at the same time, facing me is going to be different.

I do think he beat [in May, Vasyl] Lomachenko. I think it was close. If it was just Loma and Devin just fighting without the belts, maybe Loma could have got it, or maybe a draw – it was real close – but at the same time Devin was the undisputed champion so you have to take the fight away from him. Loma didn’t do enough to take the fight. It was a super, super close fight. When I watched it people was saying “Boxing’s rigged” and stuff like that. I’m like, “Bro, it’s not rigged, it was a close fight; that’s just how it is”. I still think Devin did enough to pull it off.

BN: It’s been suggested he’s moved up in weight to avoid the strongest fighters at 135lbs… 

RP: I think 135lbs is competitive. I definitely think he wants to stay away from Shakur [Stevenson]; I think he does want a Gervonta [“Tank” Davis] fight, but I just think he can’t make the weight. That’s it. He really can’t make the weight no more. Devin has size on him, so the weight is too hard for him to make. Even when I was sitting across from him, “He does have some size – how does he even make 135lbs?” – because I’m a nice size at 140lbs. So he might even have trouble making 140lbs. We’ll see.

BN: Do the additions of Haney and Ryan Garcia to the 140lbs scene in which you, Lopez, Taylor and Jack Catterall were already prominent make it even better than the lightweight division that’s been getting so much attention?

RP: You have bigger stars at 135lbs, but 140lbs is probably the hottest. You still got people like Josh Taylor, like [Jose Carlos] Ramirez that was champions; they still there. They’re not the hottest but they’re still there – 140lbs is one of the hottest divisions for sure.

BN: It’s rare for those at 140lbs to be in contention to earn the nature of paydays typically on offer in more traditionally “glamorous” weight divisions…

RP: I missed weight a few times, and they were saying “You need to go to 147lbs”, and I just needed to hire a nutritionist and keep making 140 because I saw that this was going to be the best division. I saw all these guys. “They gonna come up.” I saw that, and that’s why I told people “I’m gonna be the champion again”. Look what’s happening right now – I’m in the perfect spot. If I’d been at 147lbs – they wanted me to go to 147lbs to fight Maurice Hooker a while ago – I was like “Why would I do that?”. I can make some money doing this. Look at the bigger fights. I like to look at the future, and that’s what’s happening right now. All these guys are coming up to 140 – it’s one of the hottest divisions in boxing. I’m super glad that I stayed where I’m at.

BN: There’s a tattoo of Marvin Hagler on your right arm…

RP: Definitely one of my favourite fighters of all time. I don’t really fight like him too much but I just love how he was so gritty. He was disciplined; he stayed at one weight his whole career. That’s kind of how I want to be – I want to be remembered like him, as far as that was his division. “Haney, you was at 135, you come to 140 – you going to get whooped at 40. Go to 47 you might win belts at 47, but this is gonna be my division.” That’s what I’m doing it for.

I came up hard, and he did too. It took him a long time. Even when he won his championship he wasn’t celebrated. He fought over there in England, and after he won they was throwing bottles and stuff like that. He wasn’t even enjoying his victory of being a champion, and that’s something he worked to do for so long. I feel the same way. I had a long hard road to get to where I’m at. It’s different. When you get here, it feels better.

Regis Prograis and Eddie Hearn (Getty Images)

BN: Do you think Eddie Hearn wants you to beat Haney, another Matchroom fighter?

RP: I told him that. I said, “Eddie, I’m gonna knock your boy out – ‘cause that’s your boy. I know it; that’s your boy; you text and stuff like that; that’s cool, that’s your boy but you gonn’ be highly disappointed”. But that’s why I love boxing. Everything can go against you, but at the end of the day when you get in the ring it’s just two people, and the referee. It’s you versus your opponent. Everything can go against you; the media can go against you, but when you get in there you can’t hide. It’s you and that person and nothing else matters. The betting odds doesn’t matter; the favourite doesn’t matter; the promoter. It just matters about you and him.

He said “That’s not my boy”. I said “Eddie, you full of shit, that’s your boy”. He said “He left me” and stuff like that. I said “Eddie, that’s your boy, I know it’s your boy” – ‘cause after my fight he’s got a picture of Eddie on his phone, after my fight, so they text and all that stuff. That’s his boy and I understand that, and for me that’s cool. But I told him, “I’m gonn’ whoop your boy; I’m gonn’ beat his ass”. 

Yes [it frustrated me at the time] but it’s expected. Eddie’s a person – you can tell who he likes. He’s all over Anthony Joshua; he loves Anthony Joshua; he likes Devin a lot. He’s not gonna hide who he likes. He likes who he likes, and that’s fine with me. It’s cool, man. He’s a person just like everybody else – he has a side he leans towards. It’s not hard feelings. I’ma beat Devin and, we cool.

After this, me and Matchroom has one more fight but I’m cool with working with Matchroom again. As long as everything goes smooth like I think it should, and don’t keep playing the favourites – right now Eddie is playing that with the Devin thing – but after this I feel like it will shift. Take care of Devin and we’ll see what happens after that.