Jose Zepeda is forced to wait at least one more work to learn the fight of his next title challenge.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that a third delay has come of a purse bid hearing to determine promotional rights for the ordered WBC junior welterweight title fight between Josh Taylor as the defending champion and Zepeda as the mandatory challenger in waiting. The WBC was due to hold a session Friday morning but was instead pushed back by one week to July 1.
No firm reason given for yet another extension for a fight that was ordered two months ago. The original purse bid was originally due to take place May 24, which was pushed back by another 17 days. The June 10 date came and went without a hearing, as the session is now pushed back two more weeks to June 24.
Taylor (19-0, 13KOs) committed to negotiations for the ordered title fight, which came in the wake of his relinquishing the WBA belt. The unbeaten lineal junior welterweight champion—who still holds the WBC/IBF/WBO titles—was previously ordered by the WBA to face mandatory challenger Alberto Puello (20-0, 10KOs) of the Dominican Republic, which went to a purse bid where TGB Promotions secured the rights as the only bidder with a bid $200,000—the minimum allowable amount.
A 20-day period to return contracts resulted in only Puello signing the contract for a proposed July 16 date in Las Vegas. Taylor never signed, instead giving up his title as he noted in an open letter to the WBA that the timing didn’t align with his personal plans for his wedding and subsequent honeymoon this summer.
By that logic, a fight with California’s Zepeda (35-2, 27KOs) likely wouldn’t take place until the back end of summer at the earliest. The timeline would justify a delay in holding a purse bid hearing, especially if it results in a deal being reached by that point. Taylor is promoted by Top Rank, who has presented Zepeda’s past several fights in association with lead promoter Zanfer Boxing.
Taylor inherited two mandatory title defenses following his 12-round win over Jose Ramirez in their undisputed junior welterweight championship clash last May 22 in Las Vegas. Taylor defended his WBA/IBF titles while claiming the WBC/WBO straps, both of which came with outstanding mandatories.
One was satisfied, though only in terms of the fight actually taking place. Taylor barely edged England’s Jack Catterall, the WBO number-one contender who was considered unlucky to not come up with the decision and the crown in their February 26 championship clash in Glasgow, Scotland. Taylor survived an eighth-round knockdown and a point deduction to claim a highly questionable split decision victory.
The fight with Catterall was delayed by two months due to Taylor suffering an injury during training camp in forcing a postponement of their originally scheduled December 18 date.
Zepeda advanced to the top of the WBC rankings following his sixth-round knockout of Ivan Baranchyk in their epic October 2020 slugfest in Las Vegas. Both fighters were floored four times, with Zepeda ultimately prevailing with the highlight reel knockout in the universally acclaimed 2020 Fight of the Year.
The win was part of his current six-fight unbeaten streak dating back to his narrow majority decision loss to Ramirez, who was the unbeaten WBC titlist at the time of their February 2019 clash in Fresno, California. In his most recent start, Zepeda traveled to hostile territory to pick up an explosive first-round knockout of The Bronx-bred, streaking Puerto Rican prospect Josue Vargas at Madison Square Garden Hulu Theater in New York City last October.
Zepeda also owns impressive wins over former two-division titlist Jose Pedraza and divisional trialhorse Kendo Castaneda during his current unbeaten stretch.
Should the fight move forward, Taylor will attempt the fifth overall defense of his IBF belt which he claimed in a twelve-round win over then-unbeaten Baranchyk in May 2019. Taylor has defeated six straight unbeaten opponents, including three undefeated divisional titlists in Baranchyk, then-WBA champ Regis Prograis (October 2019) and then Ramirez for the undisputed crown.
Taylor has expressed greater interest in pursuing a rematch with Catterall, whether in a championship defense or just above the junior welterweight limit. However, such a fight cannot take place in present form unless Taylor vacates the WBC title or is granted permission by Zepeda to proceed with the fight. The latter scenario is highly unlikely, as Zepeda has remained firm on next entering a title fight for which he has waited nearly two years to materialize.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox