This past Saturday night, at the MGM Grand Conference Center, Jose Zepeda scored a dramatic fifth round knockout of Ivan Baranchyk.
The junior welterweight fight was an absolute war and saw a total of eight knockdowns - with each boxer going down four times.
Zepeda, who himself went down just a moment earlier, closed the show when he knocked Baranchyk out cold with an accurate hook to the chin.
The win was the biggest of Zepeda’s career and Top Rank's CEO Bob Arum, who co-promotes him with Zanfer Promotions, said he hopes to have Zepeda (33-2, 26 KOs), 31, of La Puente, California, return early next year on the undercard of the proposed undisputed junior welterweight championship fight between unified titleholders Jose Ramirez and Taylor.
Zepeda’s two losses came in world title fights, losing a disputed majority decision to Ramirez in February 2019 and by second-round stoppage due to a dislocated shoulder challenging Terry Flanagan for a vacant lightweight belt in 2015.
Arum is trying to work things out with the WBO so that Ramirez (26-0, 17 KOs) can go into the undisputed fight against Scotland’s Taylor (17-0, 13 KOs) rather than first facing British mandatory challenger Jack Catterall (25-0, 13 KOs).
“We’ll offer Catterall a fight with Zepeda, which he’ll turn down,” Arum predicted. “And then Catterall will fight the (Ramirez-Taylor) winner and then Zepeda will fight (for a world title). I would offer Catterall a lot of money to fight Zepeda but there’s no way he’s going to do that. I’d love to see that fight. I’d love to do it on the Ramirez-Taylor card.”
Dan Rafael was ESPN.com's senior boxing writer for fifteen years, and covered the sport for five years at USA Today. He was the 2013 BWAA Nat Fleischer Award winner for excellence in boxing journalism.