ORLANDO – Jose Zepeda did not come to serve as a stepping stone.

That is the message that the former title challenger verbally delivered and which he hopes to display in the ring. California’s Zepeda believes he is ready as can be expected for his crossroads bout versus Brooklyn’s Richardson Hitchins this Saturday on DAZN from Caribe Royale in Orlando, Florida.

“I always come ready for every fight but we’ve taken the extra steps to make sure we get the win,” Zepeda told BoxingScene.com. “My losses have come in championship fights. But I don’t want to be known as that guy who falls short at [the top] level. That’s the main reason why I took this fight.”

Zepeda (34-3, 27KOs) has lost in three separate title challenges, the latest which came in an eleventh-round knockout to Regis Prograis in their WBC junior welterweight title fight last November 26 in Carson, California. The 34-year-old southpaw won six in a row to earn the opportunity, including an eight-knockdown, six-round shootout versus Ivan Baranchyk in the 2020 Fight of the Year.

A September 2019 points victory over Jose Pedraza began the win streak, which also saw Zepeda hit the road in style in an October 2021 first-round knockout of Josue Vargas in New York City. The loss to Prograis (29-1, 24KOs) stung, though in part to having to read and hear claims that is now on the wrong side of his prime.

A ten-round shutout over Neeraj Goyat in March put Zepeda back in the win column. More of a confidence boost was the teachings he’s obtained from new head trainer Manny Robles as he prepares for the 25-year-old Hitchins (16-0, 7KOs), a 2016 Haitian Olympian and rising junior welterweight contender who won every round in a landside decision victory over John Bauza in their February 4 battle of unbeaten boxers.

“I know that Richardson Hitchins is very fast and probably the best prospect in the division,” noted Zepeda. “What I also know is that a win over a fighter like him puts me right back on the world title scene.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox