William Zepeda understood the importance of looking spectacular in his first fight of the year.
The unbeaten lightweight lived up to that promise with a two-round blitzing of Panama’s Jaime Arboleda this past Saturday in Arlington, Texas. Zepeda—a highly skilled volume puncher from San Mateo Atenco, Mexico—floored Arboleda three times en route to delivering his quickest win since his first full year as a pro.
“Obviously, early knockouts make it easier for you to get back into the ring quicker and more often,” Zepeda told BoxingScene.com. “This is going to be a big year for the lightweight division, and I plan to play a major role. It is stacked with so much talent. We are ready to fight anybody.”
Ironically, Zepeda (28-0, 24KOs) initially expressed interest in facing unbeaten former two-division titlist Shakur Stevenson (20-0, 10KOs), who now competes at lightweight. The fight was available to be made when the WBC began its process to formally order a title eliminator to determine its next mandatory for undisputed lightweight champion Devin Haney (29-0, 15KOs).
The opportunity was declined at the time by Golden Boy Promotions, Zepeda’s promoter who wasn’t quite as ambitious as was the highly regarded contender who even called out Stevenson prior to the ordered eliminator.
Zepeda understood the business logic behind his team—which includes manager Jaime Picos—applying the brakes to such a fight at this point in his young career. It made more sense to further showcase his talent, which was the plan when the fight was Arboleda was originally scheduled to land on the April 22 Gervonta 'Tank' Davis-Ryan Garcia Showtime Pay-Per-View undercard at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Davis (29-0, 27KOs) holds the WBA 'Regular' lightweight title, which was not at stake in his seventh-round knockout win over Garcia (23-1, 19KOs).
Zepeda-Arboleda was instead pushed back one week when the need arose for a new headliner on the April 29 DAZN show. Zepeda made the most of the opportunity and continued to ride a wave of momentum that came with wins over former titlists Joseph 'JoJo' Diaz and Rene Alvarado and Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz. The impressive further fueled his confidence of fully conquering the lightweight division.
“It’s a loaded division,” noted Zepeda. “We know that and we are ready to fight anybody. We want to fight for a title, it doesn’t matter who it is. We are ready.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox