In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the city of New Orleans and state of Louisiana with one of the most destructive and devastating natural disasters in the history of the United States. Billions of dollars in property was destroyed and over a thousand people died. More than a million people were displaced from the region.
Undefeated super lightweight Regis Prograis (16-0, 13 KOs) was one the city’s residents who had his life forever changed by the storm. Just a teenager at the time, his family’s home was destroyed. But for Prograis, the temporary heartbreak and struggle opened up new opportunities. After relocating to Houston, he found his way to the Savannah Boxing Gym, one of the country’s premier boxing locations.
“If it hadn’t been for Hurricane Katrina, I don’t think I’d be on the level I’m on,” he told The Ring’s Anson Wainwright in an article posted today.
Prograis described an atmosphere at the gym where excellence was cultivated: ““At the time, Juan Diaz was at the top of his game. Rocky Juarez was fighting big fights…there was a lot of other big-name pros. So I was in the gym training right alongside these champions, (Guillermo) Rigondeaux, Erislandy Lara, Kermit Cintron…Moving to Houston, being around all these great fighters, you spar and train with them; you get better. I got better from getting beat up. In New Orleans, I can beat up the whole city in my weight class. Here, people give me challenges; that’s how you get better.”
Fighting on Showtime this Friday night in Oklahoma, Prograis could face the toughest test of his career in Aaron Herrera (29-4-1, 18 KOs). Although just 27, like Prograis, the Mexican native is far more experienced as a professional. He turned pro at 17 and won his first 24 bouts.
Herrera’s most notable opponent to date has been Selcuk Aydin, who knocked him out in eight rounds in July 2013. He’s coming off from a loss to undefeated Pedro Campa last December.