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Josh Taylor to defend against Jose Zepeda at 140

Image: Josh Taylor to defend against Jose Zepeda at 140

By Barry Holbrook: Josh Taylor will be sticking around a little longer than expected at 140 to defend his three titles against his WBC mandatory Jose Zepeda next.

Taylor’s promoters at Top Rank are negotiating with #1 WBC mandatory Zepeda (35-2, 27 KOs) for the 31-year-old Scottish fighter’s next defense.

The 2012 Olympian Taylor had to vacate his WBA title recently after the World Boxing Association ordered him to defend against his mandatory Alberto Puello.

Taylor isn’t losing any sleep over the loss of his WBA title, as he still possesses the IBF, WBC & WBO 140-lb belts, and he’s expected to move up to 147 soon anyway.

For Taylor, the 32-year-old Zepeda could prove to be the most difficult opponent of his seven-year professional career, even more dangerous than his fights against Regis Prograis and Ivan Baranchyk.

Zepeda is a huge puncher who tends to stay on the outside to bomb his opponents with huge shots. Since Taylor’s main strength is fighting on the inside, he’s going to have problems with Zepeda, who indulge him the way Prograid did.

Zepeda’s recent wins:

Josue Vargas – TKO 1

Henry Lundy – UD 10

Ivan Baranchyk – TKO 5

Kendo Castaneda – UD 10

Jose Pedraza – UD 10

“[Jose] Zepeda is coming off a fight of the year performance against Baranchyk and a first-round KO of Vargas in October,” said Top Rank President Todd Duboef to Sky Sports.

Correction, Zepeda is coming off a first-round knockout over Josue Vargas last October, and before that, he defeated the capable 38-year-old journeyman Henry Lundy by a lopsided 10-round unanimous decision in May 2021.

Zepeda’s exciting fifth-round knockout of Ivan Baranchyk took place almost two years ago, in October 2020, in a fight for the year type of war. That was a fight in which both guys were dropped four times. I mean, wow!

“These together have earned him the mandatory position to Josh’s WBC crown. We are working with both teams to put this fight on next,” said Duboef.

Taylor took a lot of criticism from boxing fans for his controversial 12-round split decision win over his WBO mandatory Jack Catterall last February. Rather than clearing up the controversy by giving Catterall a rematch, Taylor has chosen to move on.

It’s good that Taylor is choosing to stay around at 140 a little longer to fight Zepeda, as if he moved up to 147 now, he wouldn’t have an opportunity to battle for a world title until 2023 at the earliest. WBO champion Terence Crawford is expected to fight IBF/WBA/WBC champion Errol Spence Jr. next.

The winner of that fight will vacate the four belts, which will put Taylor in a good position to go after the WBO strap.

“We have ordered that fight,” Sulaiman told Sky Sports. “We have a purse bid date; I believe it’s the 24th of this month.

“For some strange reason, the WBA simply went out and ordered another fight, and now they have taken away the title from Josh Taylor, or Josh relinquished. Whichever may be, but it’s very unfortunate.

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