Jose Zepeda needs a new opponent for his May 22 fight in Las Vegas.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that the Nevada State Athletic Commission won’t allow Zepeda to fight Pedro Campa on the Jose Ramirez-Josh Taylor undercard that night. Top Rank Inc., Bob Arum’s promotional company, announced Zepeda-Campa as the co-feature on the Ramirez-Taylor card April 1.
Bob Bennett, executive director of the NSAC, informed Top Rank this week that the commission doesn’t consider Campa a suitable opponent for Zepeda. Top Rank’s matchmakers are looking for a replacement that the commission will approve.
“These are the decisions of the Nevada State Athletic Commission,” Carl Moretti, Top Rank’s vice president of boxing operations, told BoxingScene.com. “I understand we have to adhere to them. If I agreed with them, we’d both be wrong.”
BoxingScene.com contributor Dan Rafael first reported on Twitter that the NSAC didn’t approve Campa as Zepeda’s opponent.
Campa’s record (32-1-1, 21 KOs) mostly has been built against nondescript opposition in his home country of Mexico. The 29-year-old Campa has just one loss, however, and Zepeda is coming off a brutal back-and-forth fight against Ivan Baranchyk, whom Zepeda knocked out in the fifth round October 9 at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.
In his most recent action, Campa beat Venezuelan journeyman Carlos Cardenas (26-18-1, 16 KOs) by majority decision in an eight-rounder February 6 in Hermosillo, Mexico, Campa’s hometown.
Campa was supposed to fight four-division champion Adrien Broner on February 20 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. He withdrew from that bout early in January, though, because one of his team members contracted COVID-19.
Zepeda would’ve been an obvious favorite versus Campa, but Zepeda won’t be brought back against too dangerous of an opponent due to the grueling nature of his brawl with Baranchyk.
The 31-year-old Zepeda (33-2, 26 KOs, 2 NC), of La Puente, California, survived four knockdowns on his way to beating Baranchyk. Zepeda also recorded four knockdowns of Russia’s Baranchyk (20-2, 13 KOs), the last of which emphatically ended their scheduled 10-round, 140-pound fight.
BoxingScene.com and numerous other outlets voted Zepeda-Baranchyk as “Fight of the Year” for 2020.
Moretti also informed BoxingScene.com that the NSAC would only approve the opener of ESPN’s tripleheader May 22 – Elvis Rodriguez against Kenneth Sims Jr. – as an eight-round fight. Top Rank tried to make Rodriguez-Sims a 10-round junior welterweight bout.
Neither the Dominican Republic’s Rodriguez (11-0-1, 10 KOs) nor Chicago’s Sims (15-2-1, 5 KOs) have been scheduled for more than eight rounds in their respective careers.
Meanwhile, Top Rank has not yet announced the venue for the Ramirez-Taylor card, which is scheduled for five weeks from Saturday night. MGM Grand Garden Arena and Michelob ULTRA Arena, formerly known as Mandalay Bay Events Center, are the two arenas under consideration.
A limited number of fans will be allowed to attend the Ramirez-Taylor card. COVID-19 restrictions have prevented Top Rank from selling tickets to any of the 26 cards it has held at MGM Grand Conference Center since June 9.
Ramirez (26-0, 17 KOs), of Avenal, California, and Taylor (17-0, 13 KOs), of Prestonpans, Scotland, will fight for Ramirez’s WBC and WBO 140-pound crowns and Taylor’s IBF and WBA belts.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.