By Brian Webber: Promoter Eddie Hearn is over the moon with the energy that he saw between Devin Haney & WBC light welterweight champion Regis Prograis at their kick-off press conference this week for their fight on December 9th on DAZN pay-per-view at the Chase Center in San Francisco, California.
Hearn says the Chase Center manager spoke to him afterward about the need for more tickets for the venue, which seats 18,064. This is outstanding news, especially considering this is the first time the San Franciso native Devin Haney has fought at home during his eight-year career.
Thus far, approximately 9,000 tickets have been purchased for the Haney-Prograis event, slightly less than two months before December 9th. It’s reasonable to assume it’ll sell out soon.
Much of the success of the press conference was due to Prograis’ trainer, Evin Tobler, and Haney’s dad, Bill Haney. Those two were at war when the press conference kicked off while Hearn, Devin & Regis stood back in awe, watching them trade verbal jabs.
If Haney (30-0, 15 KOs) wins, he could fave Ryan Garcia or Teofimo Lopez next in big-money fights. Prograis will have a big fight available for him as well, win or lose, and a rematch with Haney could be possible if he’s victorious. Knowing Haney, he’ll insist on a rematch, and it’ll be a huge event.
More tickets needed
“I knew that Devin and Regis might actually have a little bit, but it was absolutely wild. My job is to try and goad that kind of energy and that kind of chat out of people, but it was just like zero to 100 real quick, like within 5 seconds,” said Eddie Hearn to Matchroom Boxing, talking about the kick-off press conference for the Regis Prograis vs. Devin Haney fight.
It was a brilliant idea for Prograis to have Evin Tobler be with him on stage rather than his other coach, as he was perfect for the event. Tobler was at war with Bill Haney the entire time, making it enjoyable to watch these two.
This was easily the best press conference in boxing since the Jermell Charlo vs. Toney Harrison rematch in 2019. It didn’t look fake like we saw recently with the Tommy Fury vs. KSI event, which had a forced quality.
“It was like [Prograis’s trainer] Evin [Tobler], ‘Yeah, why don’t you let him talk first,’ and then like next thing, I don’t know what happened,” said Hearn. “The manager of the Chase Center just came over and said, ‘I think we’re going to need some more tickets.’
“Obviously, stuff like that goes viral, but when it’s a great fight, I just feel like it just adds to the excitement. You know what it means to both guys. Two teams that really believe they will win this fight.
“The undisputed lightweight champion [Haney] of the world against what many believe to be the best 140-pounder reigning WBC world champion [Prograis]. It’s an unbelievable fight, and when we came to the Bay Area, there was a little bit of that, ‘How are we going to do?’
“We wanted to come back somewhere that hadn’t seen big-time boxing for a long time. It’s been over a decade since they had a big fight since they had a world championship fight, and I believe the biggest fight ever in the Bay Area.
“This place is a powerhouse, the Chase Center, and I believe together, we’re going to fill the whole place. We’re nearly at 9,000 already after the first week, and after today, you’re going to see an electric night on December 9th and a fantastic fight.”
It’s unbelievable how fast the tickets are selling for the Haney-Prograis fight, as neither fighter has fought there, and the Bay Arena rarely has boxing events taken place since San Francisco native Andre Ward last fought there in 2016.
“Yeah, I think when you map out the career of a fighter, you have to give him the big sell, but you have to deliver it as well,” Hearn said. “Too many people working this sport say, ‘Yeah, we’ll do this,’ and they haven’t got the minerals or they haven’t got the ability to make it happen.
“So we were lucky. Ourselves and Devin go back a long way. We had a pack together that he would be Matchroom’s first undisputed world champion in America. Unfortunately, he had to take a deal that he was really railroaded into taking,” said Hearn.
A lot to gain for Haney vs. Prograis winner
“We talked about it, and he promised me he’d be back, and he’s a man of his word. He’s back, and if he wins on December 9th, I believe he’ll fight Ryan Garcia, or he’ll fight Teofimo Lopez. But if Regis Prograis wins, he’s our client in a multi-fight deal, and our job was to deliver him the super fight.”
Ryan Garcia would be the one who will ultimately decide if he wants to fight Haney or not, as his promoter Oscar De La Hoya is eager to match him against WBO light welterweight champion Teofimo Lopez next February.
Teofimo and his promoters at Top Rank will want that fight, as it will generate a lot of PPV buys on DAZN & ESPN. Whether Haney vs. Ryan would bring in the same excitement in a PPV event is unclear.
“Our job was to deliver him not only a lot of money but a pathway to becoming a pound-for-pound great himself. They’ve both got it on a plate. It’s all there for Them. You want to fight Ryan, you want to fight Teofimo, you want to fight Tank? You have to win on December 9th, and for me, I think this is fight of the year,” said Hearn about the Haney vs. Prograis bout.