Jose Zepeda hopes that a big win over rising super lightweight star Dalton Smith will springboard him toward a fourth shot at a world title.

Zepeda, a three-time title challenger from Torrance, California, will seek to hand Smith his first professional loss in an intriguing main event Saturday at the Utilita Arena, streamed live on DAZN. 

Zepeda (37-4, 28 KOs) has twice challenged for a super lightweight belt, falling short on points against Jose Carlos Ramirez in 2019, before suffering an 11th-round stoppage against Regis Prograis in November 2022.

“This is going to be a helluva fight," Zepeda said. "One thing we know, we have to win big. I have to win this fight. I’m still here because I want new opportunities. I want my fourth chance.”

Smith (15-0, 11 KOs), from Sheffield, U.K., has cleaned up the domestic 140-pound scene by capturing the British and Commonwealth titles. Zepeda represents a significant step up in class for Smith, 27, but “Chon” also recognizes the threat Smith poses to him.

“I’m already 34 years old,” Zepeda said. “That’s why I’m taking hard fights. I want the hard fights, and I am planning my way back with this fight.”Zepeda admits that he would consider retirement if Smith were to get the best of him Saturday.

“I saw his record,” Zepeda said. “I know he’s 15-0. I know he’s a big star in the U.K. I think it’s a good chance for me to get back to the top. I know he’s good and he seems like a star over there in the U.K. He’s energetic inside that ring. He likes to move and he’s kind of fast. I know he likes to come forward, so that’s going to make it a great fight.

"We’re going to love the style. The winners here in this fight are going to be the fans. He’s going to have a hard fight in front of him. This is the first time he’s stepping up in level, so he’s going to find out that it’s not easy. It’s not easy to get in there.”

In his most recent fight, in September, Zepeda was on the wrong side of a boxing masterclass from emerging star Richardson Hitchins. Undeterred by a shutout points loss, Zepeda jumped at the chance to step in the ring with another fast-rising super lightweight.

“It was a tough loss against Hitchins because I wanted to get back into the top 10," Zepeda said. "He is a talented fighter. I do believe he is going to be a champion. I could have taken an easy fight, but that’s not going to get me anywhere. I want a hard fight so I can get back straight away into the top-10 contenders in the 140-pound division.

“Richardson Hitchins was more like a move around. He doesn’t like to get hit. I know Dalton likes to come forward, so I think it’s going to be a great fight. If I win this fight, it’s going to open my opportunities with Matchroom, and that’s what I want. I want big opportunities.

“If I don’t win this fight, then that means there’s no big fights for me afterwards,” Zepeda continued. “I’m planning on only being in big fights, so I have to win this fight."

Zepeda–Smith headlines a huge night of action in Sheffield. WBO welterweight world champion Sandy Ryan (6-1-1, 2 KOs) will put her gold on the line against two-division world champion Terri Harper (14-1-2, 6 KOs); Ishmael Davis (12-0, 6 KOs) and Troy Williamson (20-2-1, 14 KOs) will meet in a final eliminator for the British super welterweight title; Campbell Hatton (14-0, 5 KOs) will take aim at his first title when he meets James Flint (13-1-2, 3 KOs) for the Central Area super lightweight title; Nico Leivars (5-0-1) will take on Piotr Mirga (7-2) in a final eliminator for the English bantamweight title; light heavyweight Liam Cameron (22-5, 9 KOs) will return after his first-round win over Harry Matthews last month; super welterweight prospect Leli Buttigieg (2-0, 1 KO) will fight for the second time this year; and middleweight Connan Murray (6-0, 1 KO) will kick off the before-the-bell action.