The quest for the Ali Trophy continues as Regis Prograis faces Kiryl Relikh in the semifinals of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) light welterweight tournament on April 27, 2019 at the Cajundome in Lafayette, Louisiana.
In the co-main event, Nonito Donaire Jr. takes on Zolani Tete in the semifinals of the WBSS bantamweight tournament. This double-header will be broadcast exclusively via DAZN and with four world champions facing each other, fireworks are expected in this event.
Regis Prograis vs Kiryl Relikh
The 30-year old Prograis is 5-8 tall and has a reach of 66.9 inches while fighting out of the southpaw stance. The New Orleans native has an undefeated record of 23-0 with 19 knockouts to his credit. Seven of his last eight fights have ended in a stoppage with only Terry Flanagan going the distance although the Brit was dropped once in his last bout last October 27, 2018.
Although he still has plenty to prove, Prograis has passed every test he has been given so far. He knocked out both Joel Diaz Jr. and Julius Indongo in two rounds and won every round against Terry Flanagan. However, we haven’t seen him display the full arsenal yet. He may need to show it though against an equally hard hitting opponent in Kiryl Relikh.
Regis Prograis vs Kiryl Relikh Odds
Odds from bet365 as of 3/26/19
Relikh is 29 years old and stands 5-9 ½ with a reach of 67.5 inches and fights as an orthodox fighter. The Belarusian has a record of 23-2 with 19 knockouts. Relikh is also an untested fighter as he won his first 21 bouts without any challenge.He’s lost to the two biggest names he’s faced so far, dropping decisions to Ricky Burns in 2016 and Rances Barthelemy in 2017. Relikh avenged the loss to Barthelemy in a rematch. In his last bout, Relikh defeated Troyanovsky in the quarterfinals of the WBSS super lightweight tournament.
Although he isn’t elite in any particular aspect, Relikh is steady when it comes to skill. He has a great motor and loves to put the pressure on his opponent. He isn’t spectacular but he is hard hitting, effective and doesn’t take his foot off the gas pedal. His pace allows him to produce a high output and he will do anything to outwork his opponent.
Relikh will have to fight fire with fire here. He will have to apply more pressure and try to cut off the ring because that may be the best way to slow down Prograis and silence the pro-American crowd. However, Relikh should look to be more responsible on defense because his opponent has an 83% knockout rate as well. Although he is the longer fighter here, I don’t think Relikh would prefer to go the full route in a boxing match because Prograis obviously is the much better skilled fighter. I think Prograis wins easily in a decision and I also think that he is too smart to get caught recklessy by Relikh. I’m picking Regis Prograis to win on points here.
Zolani Tete vs Nonito Donaire Jr.
Zolani Tete is 5-9 with a reach of 72 inches and fights out of the southpaw stance. The 31 year old South African has a record of 28-3 with 21 knockouts. Tete has won 12 fights in a row since his last loss to Roberto Sosa in 2012. Seven of those win were by knockout and four were world title fights including three successful title defenses of the WBO bantamweight title. In his last fight, Tete defeated Mikhail Aloyan in Russia via unanimous decision in the quarterfinals of the WBSS bantamweight tournament
Tete is known for his punching power as he has a 75% knockout rate. But he’s an underrated fighter as he has the ability to box and win rounds convincingly. He is great with his hooks to the body and he has a wide variety of punches in his arsenal. He also has good defense although we saw him get knocked out by Moruti Mthalane in 2010 and dropped by Juan Carlos Sanchez in a title eliminator in 2013.
Zolani Tete vs Nonito Donaire Jr. Odds
Odds from bet365 as of 3/26/19
Nonito Donaire is 36 years old , stands 5-5 with a reach of 68.1 inches while fighting out of the orthodox stance. The Filipino Flash has a record of 39-5 with 25 knockouts. The four-division world champion has lost two out of his last four bouts. In his last bout, Donaire captured the WBA (super) bantamweight title after England’s Ryan Burnett couldn’t continue in Round 4 after suffering an apparent back injury. With the win, Donaire advanced to the semi-final round of the WBSS to face Zolani Tete.
The Filipino Flash is known for his vaunted left hook which literally destroyed the career of Vic Darchinyan. In his prime, Donaire fought like a surgeon, methodically breaking his opponents with combinations and finishing them off with his left hand. Donaire has fought at higher weights and has the power edge here, for sure. However, being already past his prime, it will be interesting to see what’s left in the tank against a younger and equally hard hitting opponent. To his credit though, Donaire has a solid chin with only Walters as the only fighter to knock him out.
I think Tete is going to come out more aggressive and he’s going to take the early rounds by setting the pace with his jabs. Donaire has been a slow starter as he’s aged but I expect the Filipino Flash to come on in the middle rounds and make a fight out of this. I’m not even counting out Donaire landing his vaunted left hook and hurting Tete at some point in the fight. However, I think the younger fighter is going to survive whatever onslaught Donaire is going to bring and when this fight goes to the later rounds, Tete’s investment in body shots is going to slow down the older Donaire. I’m not counting out Donaire winning by knockout but between that and Tete outpointing him, I like the latter more to happen. I’m picking Zolani Tete to beat Nonito Donaire Jr. via close but clear unanimous decision.