Jose Zepeda’s preference was to beat a powerful former IBF junior welterweight champion in ESPN’s main event Tuesday night.
Once Ivan Baranchyk suffered a rib injury during sparring last week, Zepeda simply hoped an entire training camp wouldn’t go to waste. Initially, Argentine southpaw Marcelino Lopez agreed to replace Baranchyk on about 10 days’ notice.
Kendo Castaneda accepted this tough assignment after Lopez changed his mind about boxing one of the sport’s top 140-pounders without an appropriate amount of time to prepare.
“They gave me three opponents now,” Zepeda told BoxingScene.com. “Hopefully, they stay with this one. But I’m all right. At the end of the day, I do my thing inside the boxing ring and that’s what counts. I just need to be a hundred percent and nothing else matters.”
The 31-year-old Zepeda (31-2, 25 KOs, 2 NC) will fight for the first time since he thoroughly out-boxed former two-division champion Jose Pedraza (27-3, 13 KOs) and won a 10-round unanimous decision September 14 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The 26-year-old Castaneda (17-1, 8 KOs, 1 NC) lost his last fight, a 10-round majority decision to Puerto Rico’s Yomar Alamo (18-0-1, 12 KOs) on February 28 in Kissimmee, Florida.
“I did watch a clip of him from his last fight,” Zepeda said. “He’s a guy that comes forward, likes to throw a lot of punches. He has that will to win. He’s gonna come to win. I’m pretty sure he’s ready for the fight. That’s why he’s taking the fight. We’re looking forward to a good fight.”
Zepeda, a southpaw from La Puente, California, expects a different fight from San Antonio’s Castaneda, though, than Russia’s Baranchyk (20-1, 13 KOs) would’ve given him.
“He’s not as strong as Baranchyk,” Zepeda said. “Baranchyk is a really strong guy. He throws a lot of bombs. I believe he hits harder than Castaneda. Castaneda likes to maybe move around and throw a lot of punches as well, but not as hard. I don’t think he has the same power as Baranchyk. He just likes to come forward and move a lot. You know, he’s bouncing around.
“I think he’s OK. He’s gonna come to win. He’s ready. That’s why he’s taking this fight and taking this opportunity, like I did many times in my career before. It’s gonna be a great fight. I think it’s gonna be my best performance that people are gonna watch on Tuesday, the 7th.”
ESPN’s telecast will start at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT. The show also will include a 10-round junior lightweight bout in which Andy Vences (23-1-1, 12 KOs), of San Jose, California, will meet Mexico’s Luis Alberto Lopez (20-2, 11 KOs).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.