ORLANDO – Richardson Hitchins has spent his entire career awaiting this moment.
The rise to contention for the unbeaten junior welterweight has largely been spent in supporting capacity. That changes this weekend for Brooklyn’s Hitchins, who headlines a DAZN show in his biggest test to date versus former title challenger Jose ‘Chon’ Zepeda. Their scheduled twelve-round bout takes place Saturday at Caribe Royale Orlando in Orlando, Florida.
“I was born to do this; I’m made for it,” Hitchins said of this opportunity. “I think that there’s always been pressure for me from day one, but I handle it because I am confident in my ability and in who I am.
“I am a special fighter; at the end of the day, it’s boxing and I truly believe I’m one of the best out there.”
Hitchins (16-0, 7KOs) has steadily risen through the ranks since turning pro after a stint in the 2016 Rio Olympics representing Haiti. The native New Yorker has often struggled for his place at the table, a frustration that led to his signing with Matchroom Boxing last fall.
The three-fight agreement initially came with the intention of a grudge match versus then-unbeaten Montana Love. The two shared the same show last November in Cleveland, Love’s hometown though a night where he suffered a knockdown and disqualification loss to Steve Spark. It was a letdown to all, in particular Hitchins who tore through Yomar Alamo in a one-sided stoppage after eight rounds but who suddenly had to search for his next opportunity.
Matchroom placed Hitchins on its February 4 show at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York City, mere minutes from his hometown. The night included two undisputed championships, preceded by Hitchins’ ten-round shutout win over John Bauza in their battle of unbeaten junior welterweights.
Hopes were resurrected for a bout with Love that was scheduled for July 15. However, the fight once again fell through when Love claimed an injury. It was then decided to move forward with Hitchins’ career, which led to a dangerous crossroads bout versus California’s Zepeda (37-3, 28KOs).
“Every opportunity is important, so I am looking at this fight like I have all my previous fights, it’s must-win,” noted Hitchins. “If you can master boxing and you can conquer the world, and that’s what I am in the sport for, to be at the very top.
“When you are chasing a dream and you are on that journey, it’s easy for people to doubt you or think you aren’t that guy. There are always things on the outside that you may have to overcome, but when you have my focus, your eyes set on that goal, all you must do is focus on that because the storm always ends, and you will get to the sunshine.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox