Jose ‘Chon’ Zepeda is making power moves ahead of the biggest fight of his career.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that the veteran junior welterweight contender has entered a multi-fight managerial deal with longtime influential industry figure Rick Mirigian. The deal comes as Zepeda awaits word on his mandatory title shot versus lineal/WBC/IBF/WBO champ Josh Taylor (19-0, 13KOs), which saw its original purse bid date for Tuesday pushed back to June 10.
The delay grants additional time for Taylor to sort out matters on his end. It has also allowed Zepeda to enter the fight with additional representation.
“Rick is Chon’s new manager,” Rene Zepeda, Jose’s brother, head trainer and now former manager told BoxingScene.com, confirming an earlier breaking news report from ESPN.com boxing insider Mike Coppinger. “I waived my rights to Rick to help get my brother what he deserves.”
The pairing of Zepeda (35-2, 27KOs) and Mirigian comes more than three years after they were on opposite sides of a February 2019 title fight. Zepeda challenged then-unbeaten WBC 140-pound champ Jose Ramirez, Mirigian’s top client, coming up just short in a hard-fought twelve-round majority decision in Ramirez’s home region of Fresno, California.
Mirigian also represents secondary WBA junior bantamweight titlist Joshua Franco (18-1-2, 8KOs) and rising welterweight contender Vergil Ortiz Jr. (18-0, 18KOs) among his vast stable.
Zepeda is unbeaten in six subsequent starts since his loss to Ramirez, including an epic sixth-round knockout of Ivan Baranchyk in their October 2020 WBC title eliminator. Both fighters were floored four times each, with Zepeda ending matters in round six in what was universally hailed as the 2020 Fight of the Year. Two more wins have followed, including a first-round knockout of Josue Vargas last October on the road at Madison Square Garden Hulu Theater in New York City.
By that point, Scotland’s Taylor had fully unified the junior welterweight division following a twelve-round, unanimous decision win over Ramirez last May 22 in Las Vegas. Interestingly, Taylor had a run-in with Mirigian during fight week, though the two settled their differences shortly after the ESPN-televised undisputed championship clash.
The victory over Ramirez saw Taylor defend his WBA/IBF titles and win the WBC/WBO belts, and with them a pair of outstanding mandatory title defenses. Taylor honored the first overdue fight, though barely getting by England’s Jack Cattterall via split decision this past February 26 in Glasgow, Scotland. The fight was delayed by two months after Taylor suffered an injury during training camp which forced a postponement of their December 18 date.
The delay put Zepeda in a holding pattern, as he was unable to get another fight after his one-round hit of Vargas. His fight with Taylor was ordered in late April, though with the assigned 30-day negotiation period failing to produce a reached deal between involved parties. Top Rank promotes Taylor and has also regularly promoted Zepeda’s last several fights in association with his lead and career-long promoter Zanfer Boxing.
Zepeda was caught off guard by the purse bid delay, which was requested by Taylor’s team and agreed upon by Top Rank and Zanfer. The decision to bring in political muscle ahead of such a big fight makes perfect business sense.
“Rick has way more knowledge than most people in boxing, including myself,” admits Rene Zepeda. “We are proud to add him to the team that will always include Fernando Beltran (head of Zanfer Boxing) who was the first one to believe in Chon and will remain his promoter for the rest of his career.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox