Joseph Diaz Jr. has once again proven his willingness to take on all comers.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that plans are in place for Diaz to next face unbeaten lightweight contender William Zepeda atop a November 5 DAZN show from a location to be determined. The dangerous crossroads bout is expected to be announced as early as Saturday during DAZN’s presentation of a show headlined by the Vergil Ortiz-Michael McKinson welterweight title eliminator in Fort Worth, Texas.
Diaz (32-2-1, 15KOs) was previously angling for a showdown with unbeaten rising star Ryan Garcia (23-0, 19KOs), which would have been an attractive pairing for the Southern California fight crowd. The fight was once in play for last November 27, only for Garcia to withdraw due to a hand/wrist injury requiring surgery.
Efforts to revisit the fight never advanced beyond Diaz calling out the Victorville, California native, though it didn’t hinder already secured plans for Diaz to return to the ring on November 5.
Garcia’s name continues to be mentioned in relation to a desired superfight with secondary WBA lightweight beltholder and former two-time 130-pound titlist Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis. There is no firm update on such talks, nor does there appear to be much to Garcia directly reaching out to England’s Maxi Hughes (25-5-2, 5KOs) for a briefly discussed fight in October.
Nevertheless, Diaz decided to move forward with his own plans rather than lose any more time than necessary on a dream fight that remains unlikely to materialize. The former IBF junior lightweight titlist from Downey, California has not fought since a competitive but clear unanimous decision to Devin Haney in their WBC lightweight title fight last December 4 in Las Vegas.
Haney (28-0, 15KOs) has since become the undisputed lightweight champion following a landslide points win over Sydney’s George Kambosos Jr. this past June 4 in Melbourne, Australia. A rematch has been loosely reported for October back in Melbourne, though Top Rank has yet to make a formal announcement and Haney has denied that such a fight is a done deal.
It doesn’t help out Diaz’s situation, as he is eager to work his way back to the title picture. There are easier ways to dos so than to face a rising contender like Zepeda, a 26-year-old southpaw from San Mateo, Mexico.
Zepeda gained acclaim in a fifth-round knockout of Roberto Ramirez, with the December 2020 clash in Hollywood marking his U.S. debut. It was followed by his best win to date, a mercy stoppage of then-unbeaten Hector Tanajara after six one-sided rounds last July 9 at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles. The same show saw Diaz replace Garcia in an interim WBC lightweight title fight with Javier Fortuna, whom Diaz outpointed in his lightweight debut.
The wins over Ramirez and Tanajara served as part of a fifteen-fight knockout streak for Zepeda, which ended in his most recent outing. The streaking contender was made to look human in a ten-round points win over former 130-pound titlist Rene Alvarado this past May 14 in Ontario, California.
Still, Zepeda represents arguably the stiffest test for any top lightweight, while Diaz will serve as by far the best opponent that Zepeda has fought to date.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox