With Joe Smith Jr. vs. Umar Salamov off the table, Top Rank was forced to look elsewhere for an October 30th main event. Mike Coppinger, confirming earlier reporting from Keith Idec, brings word that top super lightweight contender Jose Zepeda will meet prospect Josue Vargas in the new featured bout.
Zepeda (34-2, 26 KO) fights for the second time since his 2020 Fight/Knockout of the Year against Ivan Baranchyk, having cruised past an aging Hank Lundy this past May. He’s ranked 2nd by the WBC behind Jose Ramirez, and since Ramirez already lost decisively to undisputed champion Josh Taylor, “Chon” is presumably in line for a crack at all the belts. Despite this, he was briefly linked to a welterweight clash with Terence Crawford and will now face 23-year-old Puerto Rican Vargas (19-1, 9 KO). “The Prodigy” hasn’t tasted defeat since getting DQ’d in his seventh pro fight.
The last time Top Rank pitted a 140-pound prospect against a skilled veteran named Jose, things went poorly for the former. That said, Zepeda does tend to fight down to his opposition, so who knows? Could wind up closer than it needs to be.