Regis Prograis has long been one of the best, and most entertaining fighters in the world. The WBC super lightweight champion has been been a great interview and a guy with a fan-friendly, high-octane style.
He's often, though, found himself on the wrong side of the street from a business standpoint, and because of the way boxing is structured, found himself on the outside looking in more often than not.
He became a free agent following his 11th round stoppage of Jose Zepeda on Nov. 26 in Carson, California. Prograis, who served as his own manager during the talks, came down to Top Rank and Matchroom before opting to sign a three-fight deal with Matchroom and Eddie Hearn.
The first fight on that deal will be against unbeaten but little-known Australian Liam Paro on June 17 in Prograis' hometown of New Orleans.
Top Rank offered a five-fight deal and then a four-fight deal with more money per fight than Matchroom had offered. The deal with Top Rank would have begun with a fight later in the summer against Arnold Barboza. Then it would have included a bout against Jose Ramirez, and then one versus the winner of Josh Taylor and Teofimo Lopez on June 10. Ramirez, though, has one fight left on his Top Rank deal and hopes to make it against the Taylor-Lopez winner.
It was a tough call for Prograis.
"I looked at both sides and I was comfortable with both sides," Prograis told Yahoo Sports. "For three or four weeks, I changed my mind. One day, I'd go to bed and say, 'OK, Top Rank is the one. I'm signing with them.' And then I'd wake up in the morning and I'd have this feeling that Matchroom was the right deal for me. I did that so often, it's crazy. Sometimes, I did it multiple times in a day. So it was tough. At the end of the day, I felt comfortable with Eddie and that seemed like a perfect fit."
From a Top Rank standpoint, Prograis was concerned that Ramirez and Lopez had just one fight left on their deals with the company. Ramirez, in fact, has one fight left on his Top Rank deal, but Top Rank president Todd duBoef said Lopez is signed with the company into 2025.
Prograis said there were two other issues signing with Top Rank. He wants a bout with Subriel Matias, the IBF champion. There have been reports that Matias was also signing with Matchroom, but Hearn said Wednesday the company doesn't have a deal with him at this point.
Also, Prograis in addition to managing his own career is starting a promotional company, Rougarou Promotions. Hearn was willing to help him with Rougarou and do co-promotions with his company to get it off the ground.
"Eddie put out a plan that made sense to me," Prograis said. "What I want to do now is I want to go grab the belts. I want to get all the belts. I want some big fights. That's my goal. I want to get some big fights and get all of the belts."
The number of bouts was also an issue for Prograis. He speculated he could be done with the Matchroom contract by early 2024 and then able to reassess the landscape. The Top Rank deal would have taken longer for him.
Prograis said Hearn has been able to make fights with other promoters so he's confident that if a fight comes up with someone he wants who is not promoted by Matchroom that Hearn could make it happen.
"With a lot of promoters, they face that issue with side of the street and a lot of them have the egos and they don't want to make the fights with [other promoters], but Eddie will make the fights," Prograis said. "He's a businessman. He wants to make his money, but he loves boxing. He wants to see the best fight the best. He truly enjoys the fights and wants to see them kind of matches."
Prograis said he decided to do the deal himself without the services of a manager because of the time he's spent in the sport. He believes he knows as well as anyone his value and felt he could save the managerial fee by doing it himself.
He said he hoped he could set an example for other fighters.
"You talk to promoters about who you're going to fight, where you're going to fight and how much money you're going to get," Prograis said. "That's not really that hard to do, especially when a manager is taking so much money from you. I feel a lot of the young guys, yeah, they do need a [manager] because they're still learning about boxing. But I feel I've been around a long time and I've learned from my mistakes.
"Of course, I'll be the first to admit that I did make a lot of bad business moves in boxing. At least now, though, if there is a mistake, I'm going to be the one doing it and it won't be somebody else. I'll know what's on the paper myself. Right now, I'm a grown man and I do nothing but read books all the time. It's not that hard to figure out how to do this. It's not that hard."