William Zepeda has rapidly emerged as a lightweight to watch.
The unbeaten Mexican southpaw has caught the attention of Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz, who believes there is something he can exploit in their upcoming clash this weekend.
“I just believe I’m on a whole other level,” insisted Diaz. “William Zepeda is just a one-dimensional fighter that's gonna apply a lot of pressure. If he thinks he’s just gonna apply a lot of pressure and I’m the type of guy that's just gonna back away and shy away from any type of smoke, he gots me fucked up.
“I’m gonna be there, landing my hard shots and throwing just as much as he’s throwing. Let’s make the best man win.”
Their terrific lightweight crossroads bout—which takes place this Saturday on DAZN from Pechanga Arena in San Diego—has been well received from the moment it was first reported by BoxingScene.com earlier this summer. The fight date has changed several times since Diaz and Zepeda agreed to terms before finally landing on this weekend.
Zepeda (26-0, 23KOs) has been pegged as a can’t-miss lightweight contender at least as far back as his fifth-round knockout of Roberto Ramirez on a November 2020 Ring City USA show in Hollywood, California. A follow-up sixth-round stoppage win of then-unbeaten Hector Tanajara last July 9 at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles sent a message that Zepeda was a threat to anyone in the lightweight division.
Diaz (32-2-1, 15KOs) appeared on the same show, making his 135-pound debut in a points win over Javier Fortuna. The win saw the 2012 U.S. Olympian restore faith in his career trajectory after losing his IBF junior lightweight title at the scales when he missed weight ahead of a twelve-round draw with Shavkat Rakhimov last February 13.
The win over Fortuna led to a shot at the WBC lightweight title for Diaz. The now 29-year-old southpaw from Downey, California came up short in his bid to dethrone unbeaten Devin Haney (29-0, 15KOs) last December 4 in Las Vegas.
Haney has since become the undisputed champion after dethroning George Kambosos Jr. on June 5 in Melbourne, returning to the city to defend his lineal/WBA/WBC/IBF/WBO crown in a repeat win on October 16.
Diaz would love a second crack at Haney, realizing he has to beat a top contender to get there. It led to his accepting a fight with the red-hot Zepeda, where a win would send a message that there is still plenty of life in his already credible career.
“He’s a young, hungry fighter who is going to bring his all,” acknowledged Diaz. “I’m excited to be able to fight one of the best guys in the division. He’s a young, hungry fighter who is going to bring out the best in me. I’m going to showcase my talents and show why I am still among the best at lightweight.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox