William Zepeda is less impressed with being called out by one of the best in the sport than he will be once it leads to an actual fight.

The unbeaten lightweight has made it to the hit list of Shakur Stevenson (19-0, 9KOs). The undefeated former two-division titlist is currently awaiting the first step in talks for a mandated WBC title eliminator with Isaac ‘Pitbull’ Cruz, but senses that he will have to look elsewhere for his lightweight debut. It motivated the Newark, New Jersey native to namedrop Zepeda (27-0, 23KOs) and former unified lightweight champ George Kambosos Jr. (20-2, 10KOs).

“If the little puppy [Cruz] doesn’t want to fight, let’s get who is next in line,” Stevenson recently stated through social media. “Isn’t it William Zepeda or George Kambosos Jr.? It doesn’t really matter. I’m ready to smoke someone regardless.

“Because Zepeda is the one whooping people, he’s the so-called boogeyman so let’s see what the hype is about.” 

That is precisely what his stated target had in mind.

Don't mention me,” Zepeda said in response to the callout. “Send me a contract for when and where the dance is… and we'll be there.”

Zepeda made a splash in his most recent contest, soundly outpointing former IBF junior lightweight titlist Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz over twelve rounds on October 29 in San Diego, California. The win came five weeks after Stevenson was forced to leave his WBC/WBO junior lightweight titles at the scale due to missing weight ahead of an eventual non-title win over Robson Conceciao on September 23 in Newark.

It goes without saying that Stevenson will land among the best at whatever reasonable weight he lands, including the loaded lightweight division.

Zepeda had to earn his keep the hard way.

The 26-year-old from San Mateo Atenco, Mexico is now mentioned among the top lightweights today. It took for his landslide twelve-round win over Diaz where he threw a Compubox lightweight record 1,536 punches—for the boxing world to take notice. Zepeda previously scored wins over former 130-pound titlist Rene Alvarado, unbeaten Hector Tanajara and streaking prospect Roberto Ramirez to build the foundation towards emerging as a top threat.

“We’ve earned that right to be among the best lightweights,” insisted Zepeda after the win over Diaz. “We want to keep advancing. My goal was to make sure everyone knows who is William Zepeda.”

Zepeda is currently ranked number four at lightweight by the WBC, which has Cruz and Stevenson at number-two and three, respectively. Cruz would have to bow out of talks for an eliminator with Stevenson for the sanctioning body to officially move on to Stevenson-Zepeda. Either fight would ultimately determine the WBC mandatory to undisputed lineal/WBA/WBC/IBF/WBO lightweight champion Devin Haney (29-0, 15KOs), who will likely next face former three-division titlist Vasiliy Lomachenko, who is currently number-one with both the WBC and WBO.

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