USA’s Regis Prograis (24-0, 20 KOs) and Scotland’s Josh Taylor (15-0, 12 KOs) were both in a confrontational mood at Thursday’s press conference before their WBSS Super-Lightweight Ali Trophy Final on Saturday at The O2 in London.
"He's 24-0 but has fought no real live opponents," Taylor claimed.
Prograis interrupted: "They can't hurt me if they can't hit me!”
Taylor demanded: "Take your sunglasses off, you're indoors you fuc*ing w*nker!”
And so the verbal blows went back and forth with both combatants oozing confidence at the press conference top table. But also words of mutual respect.
“Josh is the best in the world - apart from me,” said Prograis, the WBA ‘Super’ World Champion and WBC Diamond Champion. “He's taller, he's longer. Does he hit harder? Maybe, maybe not. Is he faster? Maybe, maybe not. Better chin? Maybe, maybe not. The tale of the tape never matters. What matters is heart and boxing IQ, and mine is so high. That will be the difference.
“We are here for the belts, the trophy, the money. But the main thing for me is to prove I’m the best.”
The ‘Rougarou’ insists he has seen cracks in the armor of ’The Tartan Tornado’.
“He gets hit. Josh has been hurt against Ivan Baranchyk and Viktor Postol who aren't punchers like me. They're not sharp, crisp like me, they don't have the timing that I do.”
Prograis arrived in London three weeks ago for the fight: "The UK fans have embraced me, I feel like I'm home. On the streets and walking the malls, people are coming up to me to take pictures.”
“In was a good decision to come here early. I got adjusted to the time, the weather, the food, the culture, the people. So now, I’m just comfortable.”
Said Josh Taylor, the IBF World Champion and WBC Silver titlist: "I don't think he does anything better than me. I just want to get there and get it done now. I 100% believe I can knock him out.
“He is a good fighter and a world champion but he is going to get it on Saturday night. His 24 wins have come against nobodies, none of them have been in there to hurt him or rip the belt away from him, I am.”
The battle of words culminated in a tense stare-down, in which Prograis removed his sunglasses.
"My mindset is starting to change now, I'm in fight mode. I'm sick of the sight of him,” Taylor told reporters.
Eddie Hearn, Director of Matchroom Sport: "The Ali Trophy is on the line in this fight but also the World Championship belts of both men and the vacant Ring Magazine belt as well! Whether you feel that the titles, the Ali Trophy or the Ring Magazine belts carry the most weight in boxing, they’re all on the line in this fight, so everybody should be happy that we’re getting the best vs the best.”
Kalle Sauerland, Chief Boxing Officer of the World Boxing Super Series: “This is it, the Super-Lightweight final for the Muhammad Ali Trophy! Two great athletes, warriors, and fighters contesting the greatest prize in boxing - on Saturday we will see the best vs the best in the Champions League final of boxing.
“This winner of this final will be the best in the division. We saw that in Season I with Aleksandr Usyk and Callum Smith.
“Both finalists fought the best to be in the final. Both Prograis and Taylor became world champions in their semi-finals and now we have it at what we believe is one of the best stages in world boxing, The O2. Like I’ve said before; this is the caviar of boxing.”
The WBSS Super-Lightweight Ali Trophy Final at The O2 in London on October 26 is shown live via Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and DAZN in the U.S.