Regis Prograis has waited and waited to get a meaningful fight and now the junior welterweight contender officially has one.
Prograis will face former world titleholder Viktor Postol for a vacant interim world title on March 9 at the Deadwood Mountain Grand in Deadwood, South Dakota. The fight will headline a Showtime-televised doubleheader beginning at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
The deal for the fight was agreed to last month but formally announced by promoter Lou DiBella and Showtime on Tuesday. The opening fight on the telecast will pit Ivan "The Beast" Baranchyk and Anthony Yigit in a junior welterweight world title elimination bout.
"I feel I'm one of the best junior welterweights in the world and this is my chance to display my belief in myself," Prograis said. "I'm very excited to be fighting Viktor Postol. He's a very experienced fighter that previously held the WBC world title. I want to become a world champion this year, and I know Viktor Postol wants to reclaim his title. But we have to go through each other first. This is a great fight for boxing because you have two hungry fighters. It's a can't-miss fight."
Prograis (20-0, 17 KOs), a 29-year-old southpaw from New Orleans, who relocated to Houston in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, scored his most notable win in June when he knocked out then-undefeated Joel Diaz Jr. in the second round. Prograis has scored knockouts in 13 of his last 14 fights.
Postol (29-1, 12 KOs), 34, of Ukraine, won a vacant junior welterweight world title when he knocked out Lucas Matthysse in the 10th round of an upset in October 2015. But Postol lost the belt in his first defense when he was dominated in a one-sided decision loss to Terence Crawford in a July 2016 title unification fight.
Postol was out of the ring for 14 months after the defeat but returned in September for a 10-round unanimous decision win against Jamshidbek Najmiddinov in Kiev, Ukraine. Now Postol is hoping to take the next step to reclaiming his old title.
"My goal is to become a world champion again and I know a win over Regis Prograis will bring me one step closer," Postol said. "I have been training hard for the past couple of months and I'm very excited for the opportunity to face Prograis on March 9."
The Prograis-Postol winner will await the winner of the vacant full title fight between Jose Ramirez (21-0, 16 KOs) and Amir Imam (21-1, 18 KOs), who are scheduled to fight March 17 in the main event of a Top Rank on ESPN card at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The winner between Baranchyk (17-0, 10 KOs), 25, of Russia, and Yigit (21-0-1, 7 KOs), 26, of Sweden, will become the mandatory challenger for the 140-pound world title currently held by Sergey Lipinets, who is scheduled to defend against lightweight world titleholder Mikey Garcia on March 10, also on Showtime, at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio.
Baranchyk has been in a string of action-packed fights on Showtime's "ShoBox" series and said he is taking his training even more seriously now.
"My next fight is very important for my career and I am preparing for it very seriously," Baranchyk said. "A few months ago, I moved to Miami, Florida, where I am now being trained by Pedro Diaz. I have strict discipline for everything in my training. I'm working on improving my skills, tactics for the fight, my skill set and physical strength. I'm also maintaining a much stricter diet and eating very healthy. I want every fighter to know if I am in the boxing ring you will never have an easy fight with me."
Yigit, a 2012 Olympian for Sweden and the reigning European junior welterweight champion, is embracing coming to the United States to fight for the first time.
"My dream is to become a world champion and I need to defeat Baranchyk to continue on my path," said Yigit, a southpaw. "This will be my first time fighting in the United States but I'm ready to show the boxing fans that I have what it takes to become a world champion. From Stockholm, Sweden to Deadwood, South Dakota, onward my journey continues."