Josh Taylor has been afforded additional time to sort out his next title defense.
A purse bid hearing for the WBC-ordered junior welterweight championship fight between Scotland’s Taylor and mandatory challenger Jose ‘Chon’ Zepeda has been pushed back to June 10, WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman confirmed with BoxingScene.com. The session was due to be held Tuesday morning but was instead put on hold.
“The WBC hereby confirms that the purse bid ceremony for the mandatory super lightweight championship @JoshTaylorBoxer vs @ChonZepeda has been rescheduled for Friday June 10,” the WBC announced Tuesday, tagging Top Rank and Zanfer Boxing on the tweet from its verified account.
BoxingScene.com has learned that the delay was requested by Taylor’s team, with Top Rank and Zanfer agreeing to postpone by nearly three weeks.
Taylor (19-0, 13KOs) committed to negotiations for the ordered title fight, which came in the wake of his relinquishing the WBA belt. The unbeaten lineal junior welterweight champion was previously ordered by the WBA to face mandatory challenger Alberto Puello (20-0, 10KOs) of the Dominican Republic, which went to a purse bid where TGB Promotions secured the rights as the only bidder with a bid $200,000—the minimum allowable amount.
A 20-day period to return contracts resulted in only Puello signing the contract for a proposed July 16 date in Las Vegas. Taylor never signed, instead giving up his title as he noted in an open letter to the WBA that the timing didn’t align with his personal plans for his wedding and subsequent honeymoon this summer.
By that logic, a fight with California’s Zepeda (35-2, 27KOs) likely wouldn’t take place until the back end of summer at the earliest. The timeline would justify a delay in holding a purse bid hearing, especially if it results in a deal being reached by that point. Taylor is promoted by Top Rank, who has presented Zepeda’s past several fights in association with lead promoter Zanfer Boxing.
Taylor inherited two mandatory title defenses following his 12-round win over Jose Ramirez in their undisputed junior welterweight championship clash last May 22 in Las Vegas. Taylor defended his WBA/IBF titles while claiming the WBC/WBO straps, both of which came with outstanding mandatories.
One was satisfied, though only in terms of the fight actually taking place. Taylor barely edged England’s Jack Catterall, the WBO number-one contender who was considered unlucky to not come up with the decision and the crown in their February 26 championship clash in Glasgow, Scotland. Taylor survived an eighth-round knockdown and a point deduction to claim a highly questionable split decision victory.
The fight with Catterall was delayed by two months due to Taylor suffering an injury during training camp in forcing a postponement of their originally scheduled December 18 date.
Zepeda advanced to the top of the WBC rankings following his sixth-round knockout of Ivan Baranchyk in their epic October 2020 slugfest in Las Vegas. Both fighters were floored four times, with Zepeda ultimately prevailing with the highlight reel knockout in the universally acclaimed 2020 Fight of the Year.
The win was part of his current six-fight unbeaten streak dating back to his narrow majority decision loss to Ramirez, who was the unbeaten WBC titlist at the time of their February 2019 clash in Fresno, California. In his most recent start, Zepeda traveled to hostile territory to pick up an explosive first-round knockout of The Bronx-bred, streaking Puerto Rican prospect Josue Vargas at Madison Square Garden Hulu Theater in New York City last October.
Zepeda also owns impressive wins over former two-division titlist Jose Pedraza and divisional trialhorse Kendo Castaneda during his current unbeaten stretch.
Should the fight move forward, Taylor will attempt the fifth overall defense of his IBF belt which he claimed in a twelve-round win over then-unbeaten Baranchyk in May 2019. Taylor has defeated six straight unbeaten opponents, including three undefeated divisional titlists in Baranchyk, then-WBA champ Regis Prograis (October 2019) and then Ramirez for the undisputed crown.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox