By Steve Kim Updated on March 18, 2024

A Jumbo Lightweight Contender

Picture for A Jumbo Lightweight Contender

After suffocating Maxi Hughes in four rounds at the Chelsea Ballroom at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, William Zepeda made a simple, but bold, proclamation.

"I am ready for Shakur," he said in the immediate aftermath of his blitzkrieg of Hughes. And that would be Shakur Stevenson he was referring to, the current WBC lightweight belt-holder. Coming into this bout Zepeda was the top rated contender by the organization. This particular contest was a WBA and IBF eliminator.

So it's clear that a title shot is coming sooner or rather than later for 'Camaron', should his team and Golden Boy Promotions push for it. The question is just what direction they will go, and can they navigate the usual boxing politics that come with it?

Picture for A Jumbo Lightweight ContenderCris Esqueda/GBP 

The Stevenson bout is one that would be the classic match-up of boxer vs. puncher. The slick southpaw from Newark, New Jersey is currently promoted by Top Rank, and has been featured exclusively by ESPN. But his current deal has one more bout remaining (said to take place in early July), and it will be interesting to see if he's in a lame duck situation with them. With that said, do they reach out to Golden Boy Promotions and see if they are interested in such a fight, or go a cheaper route, and bid adieu to Stevenson?

Yet it has to be mentioned that Golden Boy and Top Rank have a very cordial relationship. This may be exactly the type of clash that Stevenson needs to wash away the stench of his snoozer versus Edwin De Los Santos back in November. 

Picture for A Jumbo Lightweight Contender

The WBA champion is Gervonta 'Tank' Davis, who is the divisions cash cow. Represented by the PBC, it looks like he is headed for a summer date against Frank Martin. For the time being, a pairing between Davis and Zepeda is unlikely.

In May, George Kambosos and Vasiliy Lomachenko will battle 'Down Under' for the vacant IBF strap. With Zepeda's victory on Saturday night, that means that he is now rated number one by them, and would in theory,  eventually be the mandatory challenger for whoever wins this bout. Golden Boy may secretly prefer this route as it either gets them either,  Kambosos (who is scrappy but beatable) or Lomachenko(who is well-known, accomplished, and a bit long in the tooth).

Picture for A Jumbo Lightweight ContenderCris Esqueda/GBP

Meanwhile the WBO belt is also vacant but will be contested for in a couple of months by Denis Baranchyk and Emanuel Navarrete. (Yeah, a Navarrete-Zepeda bout would break CompuBox records.) Keep this in mind, Zepeda is rated number three by the WBO. 

It should be noted, most of these aforementioned fighters are with promoters who have deals with other networks, while Golden Boy has an exclusive output deal with DAZN. Executing most of these bouts will probably require Zepeda to be shipped over to another platform, and then come back to your home network a champion and a conquering hero.

It's been done before, case in point, both Lomachenko, and Oleksandr Usyk winning titles on Showtime (versus Gary Russell Jr. and Adonis Stevenson, respectively) and then going back to Top Rank and ESPN. 

All of these bouts are good ones, but the reality is that professional boxing isn't just about the fights, but picking and choosing the right (and often, easier) path that doesn't necessarily suit the fans interests, but the networks and promoters who are in bed together. Many other times, it's about picking off the easiest titlist. Or just making the deals that you are allowed to make, or can. 

Picture for A Jumbo Lightweight ContenderCris Esqueda/GBP

Right now, what Zepeda has become is must-see TV with his all-action style. But he isn't a big attraction at the moment. Which is why his last two bouts have taken place inside a tent at the Commerce Casino and a small ballroom in Vegas. 

But make no doubt about it, Zepeda is a bona-fide lightweight contender. He will eventually fight for a world title, the question is: against who, and where?

"I will be the next champion from Mexico!" promised Zepeda, who moved to 30-0(26 KOs). "I am ready for Shakur, Gervonta - who ever is ready to face me. I want to be a world champion."




April 20 between Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia, at the moment, is still on....Every time I see Floyd Schofield with the way he rushes in, I think of the term 'hanging curveball'....Joel Iriarte made a successful pro debut on the Zepeda-Hughes card. The young man from Bakersfield has a long, lean frame, and he looks like one of those loose limbed punchers, who will have the ability to move up several weight classes down the line. He weighed in at 145.25 for this outing....I enjoyed 'the Dynasty' (AppleTV) on the Brady/Belichick/Kraft Patriots championship run...I can be reached at



About Author
A Jumbo Lightweight Contender
  • Hosted 'the Main Event' on KIEV 870, and then later XTRA AM1150 ( a three hour show devoted to boxing) from 1996 to 1999.
  • Joined one of the first boxing websites, 'House of Boxing' in 1999, and then later became one of the founders of Maxboxing, that started in 2001, till his departure in 2014.
  • From 2014 to 2018, he was the lead columnist for
  • Was a boxing reporter for from 2018 to 2020.
  • He has written for Ring Magazine, International Boxing Digest and Boxing News.
  • Is the co-host of 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' with Mario Lopez, which has become of the most popular boxing podcasts the past several years.
  • Steve has also served as an announcer and analyst for RingTV, Thompson Boxing, 360 Promotions and CBS Sports Network.