Zepeda frankly embarrassed Josue Vargas, drilling him with a clean left hand that put the confident young fighter on the canvas, and Vargas just had no real chance of recovering. Before the home fighter in New York even knew it, he was slumped in the corner and the fight was over in the first round.
Zepeda (35-2, 27 KO) wants a fight for the WBC title specifically, which of course is held by undisputed champion Josh Taylor. Taylor will fight IBF mandatory challenger Jack Catterall in February, and then will have to figure out what he wants to do. Josh won’t be short of options — Regis Prograis wants a rematch, the Jose Ramirez-Jose Pedraza winner will want him, Teofimo Lopez might come up from 135 seeking Taylor’s belts, and Taylor could also move up to 147 looking to fight Terence Crawford next summer.
In other words, Zepeda might not get Taylor, but if Taylor were to vacate his belts, scattering all four trinkets to the wind, there’s not much doubt Zepeda as stands right now would be in the vacant WBC title fight. He holds their “silver” title, and the most likely fight there might be Zepeda taking on the Ramirez-Pedraza winner himself, which would be a rematch either way. Zepeda lost a tough fight to Ramirez in 2019, and beat Pedraza later that same year.
Butaev (14-0, 11 KO) stopped Jamal James to claim the WBA’s “world” title, which is their secondary belt nobody really takes seriously other than the people who hold it.
But forget the belt. The win sets Butaev up to face the winner of the WBA’s ordered fight between “super world” champ Yordenis Ugas and Eimantas Stanionis at some point next year. And that’s what he should be expected to do, so this is a pretty “short and sweet” section. His path is laid out.
“Boots” Ennis impressed again, going to 28-0 (26 KO) with a first round wipeout of Thomas Dulorme, who may not be a star fighter but also isn’t a total chump, and has been crafty enough to go rounds over the years, including a pretty competitive 12-round decision loss to Eimantas Stanionis last we saw him.
Ennis has the look of a special fighter in terms of skills, but there are no doubt steps up still to go. At 24 and trouncing this level of opposition, though, he’s grown increasingly tired of waiting for the green light on a big fight.
“I’ve been ready (since) two years ago. Let’s line ‘em up, the top five guys,” Ennis said. “Spence, Ugas, Porter, Crawford, Keith Thurman. Y’all know how I’m coming. We’re taking over this welterweight division.”
Asked if he had a specific name in mind, Ennis went bold. “I’m ranked No. 3 in the IBF, so Errol Spence.”
Spence (27-0, 21 KO) will have to be medically cleared after eye surgery, and while news on his condition has been scarce, it’s no guarantee he’s going to come back at all, let alone come back in good shape or ready to hop right back in with someone like Ennis.
Ennis is in a tough spot, really. We can all but guarantee Keith Thurman isn’t going to fight him, if Keith Thurman fights anyone, and Yordenis Ugas is, as mentioned before, tied up for the near future. Shawn Porter might work, but Porter’s already admitted he’s considered stepping away from the sport; if he loses to Terence Crawford on Nov. 20, he might do just that. And if he wins, he’ll have bigger paydays than Ennis waiting.
So what about Crawford? Say Crawford beats Porter in a few weeks. We’re then back to Terence Crawford having no clear, in-house good fight at 147 lbs, unless/until Josh Taylor moves up from 140. If PBC were willing to work with Top Rank, Crawford-Ennis could be a fight for 2022. But Top Rank and Golden Boy work together much easier, and Vergil Ortiz Jr is a viable alternative for Ennis on the Crawford side.
One name not mentioned was Danny Garcia, the former 140 and 147 lb titlist who has said he plans to move up to 154. Garcia seems small for junior middleweight, and maybe there’s a deal PBC can put together to convince him to stay at 147 and fight Ennis.
In short, it’s hard to figure, but Ennis was openly not happy about the Dulorme assignment when he got it, and it’s extremely clear he wants a big fight and wants it now.
Sultan (18-5, 11 KO) pulled an upset knocking off previously unbeaten bantamweight prospect Carlos Caraballo — a big one for the oddsmakers, who had Caraballo installed around -750, but not that big of a surprise to some of us, who very well knew a few things:
- Sultan can fight, and is a tough customer who’d never been stopped.
- Caraballo was still unproven, despite any hype.
- Puerto Rican prospects have just not had the best run right around this level in the last, jeez, 10 to 15 years or so.
Sultan put Caraballo (14-1, 14 KO) down four times, and was somewhat controversially dropped once himself. I still think there’s a lot to like about Caraballo, and that the 25-year-old can rebound from this; he took a step up and came up short, but he lost to a good fighter, and fought well for a lot of this fight, too. The knockdowns doomed him.
Sultan may have put himself in line for something really big, though. Top Rank could look to do a rematch here, because it was a damn good fight and they just signed Caraballo, so they might want him to try and get the win back. But Top Rank also have WBA/IBF titleholder Naoya Inoue in their stable, and really don’t have an easy good fight to make for him. Inoue will be staying busy with a December fight in Japan that figures to be a walkover on paper, and figures to come back to the U.S. next spring.
Sultan would be about as good a choice for opponent as Top Rank are likely to find for that time frame. He’s a Filipino fighter, so there is a legitimate natural fan base for him, and the fight could get some good buzz.
Cameron’s clear points win over Mary McGee unified the WBC and IBF titles at 140 lbs, and we already know what’s next for her.
She’ll face the winner of the Nov. 19 fight between Kali Reis and Jessica Camara, which will unify the WBA and WBO belts, in an undisputed title fight next year. Or at least that’s the plan as drawn up among everyone. I’d personally bet on it being Cameron against Kali Reis, and that’s going to be a pretty damn good fight if it happens.