Officials from the World Boxing Super Series and the team of junior welterweight world titleholder Regis Prograis are in talks aimed at resolving the lawsuit Prograis filed against tournament owner Comosa AG earlier this month and getting him back into the tournament.
"We always wanted to resolve this and right now that is what we are attempting to do," Lou DiBella, Prograis' promoter, told ESPN on Monday. "Regis doesn't want to sit out and he wants to win the tournament."
Prograis was due to fight Josh Taylor to unify their 140-pound world titles in the final of the eight-man tournament in a fight that was penciled in - but never formally announced - for Oct. 5 in Manchester, England.
On Aug. 9, however, Prograis pulled out the tournament and he and DiBella sued Comosa AG, a Swiss company, in U.S. federal court for the district of New Jersey. They accused Comosa AG of refusing to meet their contractual obligations to enter an escrow agreement to secure their money and sought a jury to find that Prograis was free of any further obligation to the World Boxing Super Series.
Prograis and DiBella said the decision to sue was due to "a long and repeated pattern of behavior by Comosa that includes late payments, scheduling delays, bad faith representations, missed deadlines, and broken promises."
But now they are at least talking about ironing out their differences. If successful, the result would be that Prograis-Taylor would be rescheduled for Oct. 26, probably in London, multiple sources told ESPN.
Not only was Prograis angered by the missed deadlines for the money to be put into escrow - a purse of $700,000 for the final plus a $1.3 million bonus that will go the winner -- but more so because World Boxing Super officials were talking about moving the final from Oct. 5 to Sept. 28, which would have given him even less time to prepare than the normal eight weeks most fighters want to train for such a significant fight.
If an agreement is worked out and the money is secured, moving the bout to Oct. 26 (DAZN) would give Prograis (24-0, 20 KOs), 30, of Houston, the time he feels is necessary to fully prepare.
World Boxing Super Series officials are prepared to have Taylor (15-0, 12 KOs), 28, of Scotland, fight a replacement opponent in the final if Prograis does not re-enter the field but they also know that scenario that would dramatically lessen the impact of the tournament outcome, a source with knowledge of discussions told ESPN.
The tournament was beset by financial and scheduling issues for its two first-season tournaments at cruiserweight and super middleweight and they have continued during its three second-season tournaments in the cruiserweight, junior welterweight and bantamweight divisions, none of which will finish when originally planned to.
When Prograis withdrew from the tournament and the lawsuit was filed, the World Boxing Super Series said in its only public comments that it "greatly values Regis' 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. It will do so again with all resources available if needed.
"We look forward to the upcoming final of the (junior welterweights) for the Ali Trophy between Regis Prograis and Josh Taylor. It 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."
The bantamweight final, a title unification bout between Japanese star Naoya Inoue and Nonito Donaire, was recently finalized to take place Nov. 7 in Saitama, Japan. The cruiserweight final, a title unification bout between Mairis Briedis and Yunier Dorticos, has not been officially set but it is supposed to take place on Dec. 14 in Riga, Latvia, Briedis' hometown.