Dalton Smith (15-0, 11 KOs) makes a long-awaited return to action, having not fought since his impressive seventh-round knockout victory of Sam Maxwell (17-3, 11 KOs) on July 1 at the Sheffield Arena in Smith’s home city of Sheffield.  

The unbeaten contender will return to the arena on Saturday for the toughest test of his career to date, against three-time world title challenger and long-time 140lbs contender Jose Zepeda (32-4, 28 KOs). 

The former amateur standout knows a victory over Zepeda will catapult him into world title contention and into the conversation to face the likes of Josh Taylor and Jack Catterall domestically and Teofimo Lopez, Regis Prograis, Jose Ramirez, Devin Haney, and Ryan Garcia internationally. 

Promoter Eddie Hearn has his own ambitions for the Sheffield native, which is a world title at the home of Smith’s beloved Sheffield Wednesday, Hillsborough. 

“With all due respect to younger fighters coming through, he [Smith] is the only fighter from Sheffield that is capable of hiring out that Arena,” Hearn told IFLTV. 

“The fans were coming out to support him and the dream is world championship boxing in Hillsborough and this [the Arena bill] is a massive part of that process.”

Smith, speaking at the final press conference, is not looking too far ahead and acknowledged the danger Zepeda presents to his unbeaten record and world title ambitions. 

“We haven’t looked at Jose as a sliding fighter,” said Smith. “He’s [Zepeda] only lost at world level. None of those losses have been on the way down. That’s why we took this fight, and we’ve prepared for the best of Jose. He’s only interested in the biggest fights, so his career is on the line in this fight, and it’s a step up for me and the opportunity to propel my career onto the world level.”