Stevenson Retirement Opens Door for William Zepeda: Could He Capture the Vacant WBC Lightweight Title?

By Robbie Bannatyne - 01/30/2024 - Comments

WBC lightweight champion Shakur Stevenson’s surprise retirement opens the door for William Zepeda (29-0, 25 KOs) and Maxi Hughes (26-6-2, 5 KOs) to compete for the belt on March 16th in Las Vegas.

If Shakur is serious about his retirement, the WBC 135-lb belt will be vacant, and #3 Zepeda will be next in line to compete for that belt, meaning it could be up for grabs for his March 16th clash against Hughes at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

Shakur must let the World Boxing Council know if he’s joking around about his retirement announcement because they’ll put his WBC title in play for it to be fought over, likely for the Zepeda vs. Hughes fight.

Zepeda: The Next in Line?

“If Shakur [Stevenson] retires, that Lightweight title, WBC, would remain vacant, and since William Zepeda is the highest ranked available [he could potentially capture the belt],” said Salvador Rodriguez of ESPN on X</a.

Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya would be quite pleased to have his fighter, William Zepeda, fighting Hughes with the WBC title at stake next March. If the high-volume puncher Zepeda can capture the WBC 135-lb belt, it would set up some big fights potentially against these fighters:

  • Frank Martin
  • Gervonta Davis
  • Vasily Lomachenko
  • Raymond Muratalla
  • Edwin De Los Santos
  • George Kambosos Jr.

Shakur’s retirement announcement:

“I’m officially retiring from the sport of boxing. I’ll be in the gym forever perfecting my craft and helping the next generation become great and chase they dreams, but I ain’t fw this weak boxing game 💪🏾”

Fans still don’t know whether Shakur is serious about his retirement because he is believed to have been upset at learning that Emanuel Navarrete would be fighting Denys Berinchyk for the vacant WBO lightweight title.

Shakur hoped to fight Navarrete after his attempts at enticing Vasily Lomachenko into fighting him failed. The fact that Navarrete is planning on fighting for the WBO belt leaves Shakur in a tough spot, with no one to fight in the lightweight division.

The Top Rank-promoted Shakur could move up to 140 if he were willing to take risky fights against the harder-punching guys, but he might have a tough time lining up fights against the champions in that weight class.

Stevenson’s last performance against De Los Santos was so bad that it may have irreparably damaged his career. Shakur may be permanently avoided now.