The World Boxing Super Series has encountered problems once more, potentially putting the junior welterweight finals in serious jeopardy.
WBA champion and tournament finalist Regis Prograis had been waiting for a date for his title unification and WBSS finals against IBF titleholder Josh Taylor for months but had heard nothing from the tournament. Now, Prograis and promoter Lou DiBella are looking to get out of the tournament, saying that the WBSS breached its contract.
DiBella Entertainment posted the following statement on August 9 on the matter:
“Today in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, Regis Prograis and DiBella Entertainment, Inc. filed for a declaratory judgment that Comosa AG, the owner of the World Boxing Super Series, has breached its contractual obligations to Prograis and DBE. Prograis and DBE further informed Comosa that Prograis is withdrawing from the WBSS, effective immediately.
Today's action is the result of a long and repeated pattern of behavior by Comosa that includes late payments, scheduling delays, bad faith representations, missed deadlines, and broken promises. A recitation of this behavior can be found in the Complaint filed today.
There is no one more disappointed by this turn of events than Regis Prograis, who has expressed his desire to unify the super lightweight division on a number of occasions. Comosa was provided every opportunity to see the WBSS to conclusion but it failed at every turn to meet its obligations to the contracted fighters. This action was commenced only after Prograis and DBE determined, as a result of Comosa's conduct, that his participation in this venture was no longer possible.
DBE and Prograis will not be making any further comment beyond the content of this statement and the Complaint.”
Another issue that was raised by DiBella Entertainment is Prograis not getting paid for his upcoming fight against Taylor, with several deadlines being missed and multiple changes being made to the breakdown of a potential $2 million purse for Prograis, according to a report from Jake Donovan of Boxing Scene.
Missing from the multiple revisions in various proposals thrown around by Comosa is the venue of the fight, which had been rumored to take place in the United Kingdom. One proposal had the fight take place on September 28, which is less time than what fighters typically have to prepare for a major unification bout such as this one.
The WBSS responded to Prograis’ actions and released their own statement on the matter.
“WBSS emphasizes that all tournament fighters have fair contracts regarding their exclusive participation in the tournament. This is no different for Regis Prograis, and WBSS greatly values Regis’s participation in the tournament.
The litigation initiated by Regis Prograis and DiBella Entertainment Inc in the New JErsey District Court is completely unfounded and without any basis in fact or in law. WBSS strenuously denies that it has violated any contractual obligation towards Regis Prograis or DiBella Entertainment Inc. The WBSS has enforced its tournament contracts in the past and will do so again with all resources available if needed.
We look forward to the upcoming final of the Super Lightweights for the Ali Trophy between Regis Prograis and Josh Taylor, which promises to be a spectacular boxing night.
WBSS will defend the tournament against any attempts of third parties to interfere with the tournament with all means and in all jurisdictions available as necessary.”
Prograis’ frustrations with the tournament aren’t new and there were rumblings that he could leave the tournament before a semifinal fight against Kiryl Relikh. Prograis told Fightful in April that he was very frustrated over not knowing when and where his fight against Relikh took place, but wanted to remain in the tournament as the fight against Relikh was his first full world title shot.
"At first, it was kind of frustrating. At first, it was just one thing where it was a quick turnaround for the tournament. It just wasn’t happening so I kept bugging my manager asking, ‘What’s going on? What’s going to happen with the fight? I’m ready to start training camp.’ I just had a whole lot of stuff planned out and I just wanted to start my training camp. It was frustrating at first, but I’ve kept busy. I stayed in the gym and I’m glad of the way it turned out. But yeah, it was kind of frustrating at first just because we didn’t know what was going on. A lot of people even doubted that [the tournament] was even going to happen. For me, I just stayed silent on what I wanted to do," Prograis told Fightful.
This isn’t the first time that the WBSS encountered similar issues this season. Before the semifinal round took place earlier this year, then-IBF champion Ivan Baranchyk also threatened to leave the tournament before both sides were able to work out a resolution that kept Baranchyk in the tournament. Baranchyk went on to lose his title to Josh Taylor in Scotland back in April.