William Zepeda has officially set his sights on the top prize at lightweight.
The red-hot contender entered Mexican Independence Day with the specific goal to next challenge for a major title. Among his stated targets were lineal and unified WBA, IBF and WBO champ Devin Haney and former two-division titlist Shakur Stevenson who faces Edwin De Los Santos for the vacant WBC title later this year.
Following his latest win, Zepeda narrowed that list down to one.
“I am ready for Devin Haney,” Zepeda stated in perfect English after his sixth-round stoppage of Mercito Gesta this past Saturday on DAZN from Commerce Casino in Commerce, California.
Zepeda entered the bout ranked within the top seven of all four major sanctioning bodies at lightweight, where Haney (30-0, 15KOs) still holds all but the WBC title. Previously undisputed, the still unified and lineal champion is actively in the process of finalizing a challenge of WBC junior welterweight titlist Regis Prograis (29-1, 24KOs) for later this year.
For now, Haney remains atop the division until the other sanctioning bodies determine it’s time for him to confirm his plans to either stay at lightweight or compete at junior welterweight.
Until that status changes, Zepeda (29-0, 25KOs) and his team will continue to treat him as the reigning and available lightweight champion.
“We want to fight whoever’s out there at 135,” Jacob ‘Panda’ Majal, Zepeda’s trainer, said on behalf of the 27-year-old Mexica. “He’s ready for each and every one of them.
“Devin Haney is the champion right now, so we would like to fight him.”
Should Haney opt to give up his other titles, Gervonta Davis (29-0, 27KOs) will be upgraded to full WBA titlist from his current ‘Regular’ title status. Zepeda is ranked number-two by the WBA, one spot below countryman and Mexico City native Isaac ‘Pitbull’ Cruz (25-2-1, 17KOs), who is in pursuit of a rematch versus Davis against whom he dropped a December 2021 decision.
Zepeda could also advance to the top of the WBC rankings by year’s end.
The winner of Stevenson-De Los Santos will move up to the champion’s position. Frank Martin (18-0, 12KOs) is number-two but already walked away from an ordered vacant title fight versus Stevenson (20-0, 10KOs). Former three-division titlist Vasiliy Lomachenko (17-3, 11KOs)—who is number three—doesn’t seem keen to face Stevenson unless in a title unification bout. Cruz is ranked number four but more interested in a Davis rematch.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox