ORLANDO -- Richardson Hitchins and Jose Zepeda both made weight for their main event battle this weekend.
The next step for each—aside from a win—is to reclaim the spotlight that has already shifted to a key undercard bout.
Brooklyn’s Hitchins weighed 139.8 pounds during the official pre-fight weigh-in, while California’s Zepeda was 140 pounds ahead of their scheduled 12-round junior welterweight contest. The two meet atop an eight-fight show whose main card airs live on DAZN this Saturday from Caribe Royale Orlando in Orlando, Florida.
Htichins (16-0, 7KOs) enters his first scheduled twelve-round affair and DAZN headliner. He has appeared on the platform in each of his last two bouts, including a ten-round shutout of unbeaten John Bauza on February 4 at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York City, minutes from his hometown.
Zepeda (37-3, 28KOs) is in pursuit of one more title run. All three career defeats have come with major titles at stake, the most recent an eleventh-round knockout defeat to Regis Prograis in their WBC 140-pound title fight last November 26 in Carson, California. The 34-year-old southpaw rebounded with a ten-round shutout over Neeraj Goyat on March 25 in Guadalajara.
The fight that has already commanded much of the pre-fight attention is the late addition of England’s Conor Benn to the show.
The second-generation boxer was 153.6 pounds—a career-high weight for the welterweight contender—for a ten-round junior middleweight contest versus Mexico’s Rodolfo Orozco, who was 154.4 pounds for their co-feature. Benn fights for the first time since last April, the inactive stretch entirely due to his attempt to clear his name from last year’s drug testing scandal which canceled his planned clash versus Chris Eubank Jr. last October.
Benn is permitted to fight in the U.S., although he remains unlicensed in the UK. The July 28 ruling from the National Anti-Doping Panel (NADP) noted that Benn was no longer provisionally suspended, though the decision has been appealed by the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) and United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD) agency.
The ongoing matter only affected his ability to fight in the U.S. in that Benn (21-0, 14KOs)—who is licensed in Texas and now Florida—was required to submit a clean drug-testing sample per WADA-accredited out-of-competition standards. As much was submitted by Benn, who was subsequently greenlighted by the Association of Boxing Commissions to continue his career—at least in the U.S., where he fights for just the second time.
DAZN Main undercard (8:00 p.m. ET/1:00 a.m. GMT)
Jessica McCaskill (12-3, 6KOs), Chicago, 146.4 pounds vs. Sandy Ryan (6-1, 2KOs), Derby, England, 146.4 pounds—10 rounds, lineal/WBA/WBC/WBO welterweight championship
Austin Williams (14-0, 10KOs), Houston via Milwaukee, 160 pounds vs. Steve Rolls (22-2, 12KOs), Toronto, 159.2 pounds—10 rounds, middleweight
DAZN ‘Before The Bell’ Preliminary Undercard (4:45 p.m. ET/9:45 p.m. GMT)
Orestes Velazquez (7-0, 6KOs), Miami, 140 pounds vs. Mohamed Soumaoro (13-1, 6KOs), Montreal, 139.8 pounds—10 rounds, junior welterweight
Khalil Coe (6-0-1, 5KOs), Flemington, New Jersey, 179.6 pounds vs. Kenmon Evans (10-1-1, 3KOs), New Smyrna Beach, Florida, 179.8 pounds—8 rounds, light heavyweight
Jeovanny Estela (12-0, 3KOs), Orlando, 153.6 pounds vs. Luis Caraballo Ramos (6-1-1, 6KOs), Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico, 153.4 pounds—8 rounds, junior middleweight
Jasmine Artiga (10-0-1, 5KOs), Tampa, 116 pounds vs. Josefina Vega (9-6, 4KOs), Quito, Ecuador, 114 pounds—8 rounds, junior bantamweight
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox