What you see is what you get with Terry Flanagan.
The former WBO lightweight titleholder doesn’t do any trash talking, he’s not one for throwing money around, and the idea of doing the nightclub scene in his home city of Manchester, England, would probably be met with absolute derision. No, Flanagan prefers to stay at home with his family and he keeps both feet firmly on the ground.
Up until June of this year, that strictly professional approach worked like a charm because the quick-fisted southpaw, known as “Turbo”, was unbeaten in 33 fights with 13 knockouts. However, unable to secure unification matchups at 135 pounds, Flanagan moved north to junior welterweight where he was upset by undefeated American Maurice Hooker in a bout for the vacant WBO 140-pound title.
“It’s not a problem for me because I understand boxing; you win some, you lose some, and that’s part of the game,” said Flanagan in an interview with The Ring.
“Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. I had a lot of time off (14 months), I was moving up in weight and the original show was cancelled, meaning I was in camp longer. I’m not complaining, though, because we’re still in the World Boxing Super Series, so we haven’t taken a backward step in that sense. Ok, I’m up against the favorite, but I was confident of winning the whole tournament anyway.”
On Saturday, at the Lake Front Arena in New Orleans, Louisiana, Flanagan will face the biggest test of his career to date. His opponent, Regis Prograis, has yet to win a world title, but his level of performance has been such that the power-punching lefty is already ranked No. 1 by The Ring at junior welterweight.
Despite Flanagan’s credentials as a former world champion, and despite the fact that he’s only lost one fight in a professional career spanning almost a decade, the 29-year-old Englishman will enter this bout as a prohibitive underdog. Unfazed, the visitor acknowledged Prograis’ quality but made it clear that he’s in New Orleans to give his all.
“He’s a good fighter; he’s confident, he’s aggressive, he throws a lot of shots and he can punch as his record shows,” said Flanagan. “But from what I’ve been reading, there are a lot of people who believe the fight won’t go three rounds. Hopefully he believes that and he’s mentally prepared for an easy night because I know it’s not gonna be easy. It’ll be a tough fight for him and a tough fight for me.
“I’ve had five successful title defenses and he’s never had a world title fight. If he’s as good as he says he is, then he has to prove it against a world level operator like myself. I’m not one for talking shit, I just get in there and do it on the night. I prefer being the underdog. I also like an opponent who comes to fight, rather than one who forces me to go looking for him. I won’t have to go looking for Prograis, he’ll be right there throwing punches.”
The last time Prograis faced a fellow-southpaw was in March, when he blasted his way through former unified junior welterweight titleholder Julius Indongo in two rounds. However, despite not being known as a puncher, Flanagan has stopped all five left-handers he’s faced in his career to date, so all the signs point to a thunderous collision.
As well as being Flanagan’s debut in the elimination tournament, this is also the first time that he will have fought outside of the U.K.
“I’ve enjoyed being over here,” said Flanagan. “I got out three weeks early in order to acclimatize and get used to the time difference. I was out in L.A. for a couple of weeks and came here (to New Orleans) for fight week. I’m mentally and physically prepared, so it’s just about getting in there and doing it on the night. Anything he says, or anything I say doesn’t mean shit.”
Tom Gray is Associate Editor for Ring Magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing
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