A lightweight title shot might not be in reach even with a win, but that wasn’t the reason William Zepeda agreed to a significant step up in competition this weekend.
The unbeaten lightweight contender faces former IBF junior lightweight titlist Joseph Diaz Jr. in a terrific crossroads battle. The pair of talented southpaws collide this Saturday on DAZN from Pechanga Arena in San Diego, marking Zepeda’s first as a televised headliner after five consecutive supporting capacity appearances.
“Saturday will be the night that the world remembers who I am,” Zepeda vowed to BoxingScene.com.
The all-action knockout artist hasn’t found it difficult to gain new fans dating back to a televised knockout win over Roberto Ramirez in December 2020. The bout aired as part of Ring City USA on NBC Sports Network, though neither the network nor series any longer exist.
Zepeda (26-0, 23KOs) most certainly didn’t disappear. In fact, his stock has risen with each performance as an attractive undercard fighter on DAZN for each of his last four starts. A third-round knockout of Luis Angel Viedas saw Zepeda extend his knockout streak to 15, coming to an end in a ten-round, unanimous decision win over former secondary WBA junior lightweight titlist Rene Alvarado on May 14 in Ontario, California.
Saturday marks a step-up in class for the 25-year-old southpaw, as Diaz (32-2-1, 15KOs) is by far the most talented and notable fighter on Zepeda’s resume to date. The 29-year-old southpaw from South El Monte, California represented the U.S. in the 2012 London Olympics and previously held the IBF junior lightweight title.
Diaz enters off a competitive but clear points loss to Devin Haney in their WBC lightweight title fight last December 4 in Las Vegas. Haney has since fully unified the lightweight division, which could create a logjam for top contenders waiting in line for their shot at the top prize. It’s fine with Zepeda, who views fights like this as the opportunity to prove his worth.
“He has all the experience and talent that we have been looking for in an opponent to make me up my game,” noted Zepeda. “I get to show everyone what I’m made of. I am a hungry fighter and I’m going to show why we Mexican fighters come here to the U.S. for these fights. We come here to prove ourselves, that we are for real.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox