Jose Zepeda is a man from another era. Seemingly always fighting the best and undeterred by a loss, many in his position wouldn't fight a young contender and what many proclaim a future star of the junior welterweight division in 2016 Olympian Richardson Hitchins, but here we go again as Zepeda is willing and able to put in on the line, September 23rd, live on DAZN, from Orlando, Florida.
Hitchins, who is undefeated and recently signed with Eddie Hearn's Matchroom Boxing, is headlining his first main event. Zepeda knows what he is in for, but he is making it clear he wants to fight the best so he can get what has alluded him thus far - a world title.
“...I know in Richardson Hitchins, that he’s a fast fighter and the best prospect out there at 140," said Zepeda at the press conference today. "I know for a fact that if I beat him, I’m going straight back to the top for a world title shot. So, that’s what I’m looking for and to fight once again for a world title."
Zepeda stood with humility and readiness on the stage on Thursday. Zepeda acknowledged Hitchins' talent but emphasized the difference in terms of professional experience. As with every quote from Zepeda, it is never a page-turner, but it is spoken with menace. He is very sincere and respectful - until he gets to the ring, then a switch is flipped. Zepeda is rolling the dice and taking on a top fighter in the division to look to land another chance at a world title fight.
“In the fights I have seen of him, he is a talented fighter and a good prospect – but he hasn’t been at this level yet," said Zepeda. "That’s why in this fight we are going to see if he can work under pressure. There are levels. Trust me when I fought for a world title for the first time against [Jose Carlos] Ramirez, the first time I got hit to the body I knew that it was a different level. It’s different stuff. So, let’s see what it’s all about and see how he handles things on Saturday night."
As for the levels that Zepeda speaks of, it is not unlike when he faced a brash and cocky Josue Vargas who was very disrespectful to Zepeda all fight week but was knocked out in one round in their main event fight. Zepeda will be hoping for that result, but in fairness, Hitchins is a different animal it seems than Vargas. Another interesting development is the addition of Manny Robles to Zepeda's team, a veteran boxing trainer and cutman.
“We added a new trainer in Manny Robles, my brother, and Stitch," said Zepeda. "I want to thank all of them because it’s thanks to them that it has been one hell of a training camp. We always come ready. I’ve been there, done that and I’ve come through everything. I’ve had a little bit of bad luck for my challenger fights, but I believe that I’m in my prime. I know I’m 34 years old, but this is where I’m working the hardest at 34 and where I feel that I’m the best."
The undercard taking place at the Caribe Royale in Orlando, Florida will see the controversial return of Conor Benn against largely unknown Rodolfo Orozco in a super welterweight bout, Sandy Ryan and Jessica McCaskill facing each other in a women's welterweight unification bout, and Austin "Ammo" Williams facing Steve Rolls to open the DAZN telecast.