VERONA, N.Y. (June 8, 2017) – Regis “Rougarou” Prograis and Joel Diaz Jr. made weight on Thursday just hours after the “Opening Bell” to kick off festivities for the 2017 International Boxing Hall of Fame Weekend.
The undefeated Prograis (19-0, 16 KOs) and fellow unbeaten Diaz (23-0, 19 KOs) will square off in the 10-round super lightweight main event of a Hall of Fame edition of ShoBox: The New Generation tomorrow/Friday, June 9, live on SHOWTIME (10:30 p.m. ET/PT) from Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, N.Y.
The ShoBox tripleheader will celebrate longtime analysts Barry Tompkins and Steve Farhood just two days before their induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Farhood and Tompkins were joined at the Opening Bell on Thursday by a handful of their fellow 2017 inductees: boxing legend Marco Antonio Barrera, Australian trainer Johnny Lewis, and the wife of the late Johnny Tapia, Teresa Tapia.
In the ShoBox co-feature, undefeated super middleweight Steve Rolls (15-0, 9 KOs) will take on the hard-hitting Demond Nicholson (17-1-1, 16 KOs) in an eight-round bout. In the opening bout of the telecast, Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez’s protégé, Jon Fernandez, (12-0, 10 KOs) faces Juan Reyes (14-3-3, 2 KOs) in an eight-round lightweight matchup.
Tickets for the event, co-promoted by DiBella Entertainment (DBE) and AASHA Record Breakers, are priced at $65 for ringside, $50, $40 and $30 (may be subject to additional fees) and are available at the Turning Stone Box Office, by calling 877-833-SHOW, or online at Ticketmaster.com. Doors will open at 7:00 p.m., with the first bout scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
10-Round Super Lightweight Main Event:
Regis Prograis – 139 ½ pounds
Joel Diaz Jr. – 137 ¼ pounds
Referee: Mark Nelson; Judges: Don Ackerman, Tom Schreck, John McKaie
Eight-Round Super Middleweight Co-Feature:
Steve Rolls – 161 pounds
Demond Nicholson – 162 ½ pounds
Referee: Benjy Esteves; Judges: Glenn Feldman, Don Trella, Wynn Kintz
Eight-Round Lightweight Telecast Opener:
Jon Fernandez – 132 ½ pounds
Juan Ramon Reyes – 131 ½ pounds
Referee: Charlie Fitch; Judges: Don Ackerman, Glenn Feldman, John McKaie
“The person that wins this fight goes up, hopefully, to a title fight. I’m 19-0, he’s 23-0. I feel like this is a real big fight.
“I take all my opponents seriously, but I’m taking this one even more seriously than others in the past. He’s 23-0, and there’s a reason he’s undefeated. He’s good, and he has the best record I’ve ever faced.
“I’m at a stage in my career where every fight can lead to the next big thing and I think this fight may be it for me. I’m patient, but I’m ready for more. I want a shot at a title.
“He’s a brawler fighter, but I have the better punching power, and the speed.
“If I feel like he [Diaz] can’t hurt me from the first round, I’ll probably just walk him down the whole night and punish him.
“Seeing what [Errol] Spence did motivates me, especially the way he did it in his opponent’s hometown. It got me thinking: that can be me one day. We went at it in the amateurs, so I know how good he is, but I’m good too. Just seeing him go over there and take the title away, I know my time is coming next.
“I grew up watching Macho Camacho, Roberto Duran, Mike Tyson, but I watched more Duran than anything. I really liked his style. I learned a lot watching the boxing greats on tape.
“Terence Crawford, Adrien Broner, Victor Postol. Those are the type of guys I want to fight.
“I started boxing in New Orleans, and if it wasn’t for Katrina, I probably wouldn’t be where I am right now. When I moved to Houston, I got into the boxing scene and started taking it seriously. It was a horrible situation [in New Orleans], but it changed my life.
“My family went back [to New Orleans], but not me. I stayed in Houston to box. I feel it’s not time for me to go back home just yet. I’ll come back when I become a superstar, like I’m supposed to be.”
Joel Diaz Jr.
“This is my chance, this is my opportunity. I’ve been told, ‘you only get one chance’, and this is it for me. I know Regis is good, but we’re going to put it on him. I’m going to be on him like flies on shit. This is one of the opportunities I can’t let pass.
“We’re going to break him down mentally, find our way in, and drop the bomb.
“He throws combos, and that’s what I have to take away from him. I have to be on him and be the first to attack. My power will take care of his speed.
“This means a lot to me, getting to show the world who the ‘secret’ is. People haven’t really seen what I have, but there will be no more secrets after tomorrow.
“I’m going to show the world who the real Joel Diaz is. I’m now at the right weight for me and I’m 110 percent. I didn’t waste four weeks of training camp trying to lose weight. I feel strong.
“A world championship after this fight, that’s what I want. This is my opportunity to actually show who I am and I can’t let it go. If I let this go, I might as well go back to school. This is going to open all the doors for me.
“We’ve been ready for this step for a while. I’d like to fight the winner of [Adrien] Broner- [Mikey] Garcia, but we’ll see. I know Broner doesn’t want to fight me. I tried to fight him and he turned it down. He knows I’ll give him trouble.
“I changed trainers. I used to be with Abel Ramos, now I’m with Chris Byrd. With Coach Chris, it’s more defense than offense. Working with Chris is amazing. He was a fighter, so he knows what it takes to step in that ring. He’s been there, so he understands me from a fighter’s perspective and that’s very important for me. The bond we have inside and outside the ring is special.
“You’re going to see a more active Joel Diaz and a more defensive Joel Diaz. I’m going to show the world who Joel Diaz is at 140 and trust me, they will ask for more after they see it.”
“My last fight on ShoBox [against Steed Woodall in December 2015] was a learning experience. I was knocked down in the third, but I rebounded. You never know how you are going to react in the face of adversity until you are put in that position. I’m glad that happened early on in my career. It taught me a lot.
“I’m know I’m 33, but I feel better than when I was younger. I take care of myself. I have a clean lifestyle. Age is not a thing for me.
“Nicholson has a good jab. I’ve seen him fight before. I’m not sure if he’s made adjustments or if he’s coming with a different game plan. I’m ready for whatever he brings.
“From what I’ve seen, he can fight. He knows what he’s doing in there and it looks like he has some experience.”
“This guy [Rolls] is not as experienced as me. I’m a big step-up for him.
“My last fight [against Immanuwel Aleem] was a big step up, and I fought to a majority draw. It was a slow start, but I’m a fighter, and I soldiered through. That fight really opened my eyes up to better my career, my future.
“Look at what Aleem has done since we fought. He knocked out an undefeated guy [Ievgen Khytrov] that no one wanted to face.
“My experience is going to get us over the hump against this guy. He has a dangerous right hand, but I’m going to take that away from him.
“I’m a natural boxer, but people were calling me a brawler after my performance with Aleem and that’s not who I am. But I get it – I didn’t box at all in that fight. That’s why I had to go back to the drawing board.
“I learned a lot training at Head Bangers in Washington, D.C. with Barry Hunter, Lamont Peterson and all those guys. I’ve learned from Lamont, from Adrien Broner, from Austin Trout. They spar with top fighters and that’s why they perform at the highest level – because they’ve sparred with the best. So I’m doing the same.”
“I have one loss, and that taught me a lot. I had to lose 15 pounds in three days for that fight and that took a toll on me. There are no issues making weight for this fight.”
“This is my second fight with my new trainer Tinin Rodriguez. I always try to get better and changing trainers seemed to be the best path for me. He’s helping me round up the fundamentals of boxing.
“I know I’m tall for my weight class, but I feel OK. I think 130 is my ideal weight, but I might go up in weight in the future. We’ll see. I’m still young and I have a long career ahead of me.
“I used to watch tape of Maravilla when I was growing up. He inspired me to be serious about boxing. He was so good. It’s such of honor to be working with him. I respect him a lot.”
“I haven’t fought anybody that tall, but I have a good game plan. I know he’s a volume puncher, but that’s just going to get me excited. It’ll get my adrenaline pumping.
“I’m excited that I’m fighting on TV and in such special weekend, it’s the Boxing Hall of Fame. This is a dream come true. If I beat this guy it could change my life.”
Sergio Martinez – Jon Fernandez Co-Promoter
“Jon is a thinker. He knows when to attack and when to defend himself. He’s truly gifted.
“Some may draw comparisons of him with Paul Williams, but I fought Williams twice and let me tell you they are not alike. Paul was the type of fighter that would get in the ring and go from first, to second, to third gear without thinking. JonFer will read you, will go to whatever gear he needs to be to defeat his opponent. He has a very high boxing IQ.”
Chris Byrd – Diaz’s Trainer
“Joel is an aggressive machine, so my main focus has been on developing his defense. He’s a talented boxer, but his aggressiveness sometimes opens holes in his defense. In this training camp, we worked on that. We have a good strategy going.
“He already knew how to fight, but you just have to push him a little bit on defense. He’s still aggressive as ever, but he needed to think about what’s coming back at him.
“My main thing is life after boxing. I have two brothers that are messed up from boxing. That’s why I focus on defense so much. He has an aggressive style, but he also has talent, good feet and eye coordination. He’ll go on to do great things.
“You’re going to see something special. Regis is good, I give him props, but you’re going to see something special from Joel. And a great fight.”