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Jose Carlos Ramirez vs. Jose Zepeda on February 10 on ESPN

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By Jeff Aranow: WBC light welterweight champion Jose Carlos Ramirez (23-0, 16 KOs) makes his second defense of his title against #4 ranked WBO Jose Zepeda (30-1, 25 KOs) on February 10 at the Save Mart Arena, Fresno, California, USA. Ramirez vs. Zepeda will be streamed on ESPN+.

The fight will give Ramirez, 26, another winnable title defense before the World Boxing Super Series wraps up in 2019, and the lions Regis Prograis and Josh Taylor will be looking to take his WBC 140 lb belt from him.

This is somewhat of an odd choice for the 2012 U.S Olympian Ramirez, as Zepeda isn’t rated in the World Boxing Council’s top 15 at this time, although that’s expected to change well before the two face each other on the 10th of February. As of now, Zepeda is nowhere to be seen in the WBC’s top 15. He is rated #4 with the WBO at this time.

This will be the second time Zepeda has stepped up against an elite level opponent during his nine-year pro career. Zepeda fought British fighter Terry Flanagan for the vacant World Boxing Organization lightweight title in July 2015, but he suffered a dislocated left shoulder in the 2nd round, and he chose to bow out of the fight after the round had ended. After the fight there was talk of Flanagan defending his WBO belt against Zepeda in a rematch, since their fight ended on an injury. However, that fight never happened unfortunately. It would been interesting to see how well Zepeda would have done against Flanagan when healthy.

“I feel blessed to defend my title for the second time at home against a great opponent,” Ramirez said to ESPN.com about his defense against Zepeda.

Zepeda will be coming into the Ramirez fight with an eight match winning streak since his loss to Flanagan three years ago in 2015. The southpaw Zepeda has looked good against the fighters that have been put in front of him in his last fight fights, but he’s not faced anyone with major talent like Ramirez. There’s no one on Zepeda’s resume that you can point to and say that this person rates him the title shot against Ramirez. That’s not to say that Zepeda doesn’t have a chance to beat him. He could pull off an upset to capture the WBC 140 lb title. It’s just not likely to happen given his limited opposition.

It’s hard to say that Zepeda, 29, is a great opponent. He’s a good fighter, but he’s not shown himself to be a “great” fighter yet. He’s also 30, and his best wins of his career have come against Victor Manuel Cayo (32-6, 23 KOs), Ammeth Diaz, Carlos Diaz Ramirez, and Armando Robles. Those aren’t great fighters. Cayo was a contender during his best years, but he was at the end of his career when Zepeda retired him in 2014 with a 1st round knockout victory. Zepeda hasn’t beaten any of the top 135 or 140 pound contenders during his career, and he’s almost been a pro for 10 years. By this point in a fighter’s career, he should have done more.

Ramirez captured the vacant WBO light welterweight strap earlier this year in outworking Amir Imam to defeat him by a 12 round unanimous decision last March. Ramirez defended his WBC belt last September in beating Antonio Orozco by a 12 round decision. There was talk of Ramirez eventually facing Alex Saucedo if he had beaten Maurice Hooker in their fight for the vacant WBO light welterweight title last November, things didn’t workout well for Alex with him getting stopped in the 7th. Hooker is an inviting target for Ramirez to go after in a unification fight. Things will become more complicated when the WBSS 140 pound tournament ends, and Ramirez will need to defend against the like of Prograis, Taylor or Ivan Baranchyk.


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