JoJo Diaz has never ducked a challenge, and he’s never been knocked out in his pro career. He’s also never been beaten as thoroughly as what William Zepeda did to him tonight in an absolutely dominating performance.
Zepeda (27-0, 23 KO) started fast, hit hard, threw often, and never really gave Diaz (32-3-1, 15 KO) a chance to string together any consistent offense. Any question about Zepeda’s ability to sustain his high output style across twelve rounds is answered now, as he never let up tonight, and finished looking fresher, cleaner, and less exhausted than his opponent.
Diaz wobbled Zepeda briefly with a counter in the 6th round, but Zepeda shook it off, got right back on the attack, and never looked unsteady again. Final scores were wide at 119-109 x2 and 118-110, and even a very friendly commentary team couldn’t really find more than maybe two or three rounds for Diaz. Bad Left Hook also had it 119-109 for Zepeda.
Afterwards, Diaz credited Zepeda’s “non-stop” pressure for the difficulty he faced, and said he plans to take some time off before deciding what to do next. He’s fought well above his best weight tonight, but he did the same against Devin Haney, and even Haney didn’t shut him down him like Zepeda did here.
Zepeda looked like a star, and a legit top tier contender at lightweight. He may not have the publicity of the big names at 135 pounds, but he looks like he may have the talent to give any of them a very difficult night.
Alexis Rocha UD-10 Jesus “Ricky” Perez
The chief support was an action-packed show that saw Alexis Rocha pass a tougher test than anyone expected against Jesus “Ricky” Perez. Rocha (21-1, 13 KO) came in predicting an early knockout, and looked like he might deliver in the 2nd round. But Perez (24-4, 18 KO) swallowed a lot of punishment, eating clean, hard punches from Rocha from start to finish without ever going down.
Perez was rattled in the 2nd and 4th, spent most of the fight bleeding from the nose, but never stopped marching into Rocha’s chest and throwing back at him. Rocha may have pushed himself a little too hard chasing the knockout in the 4th, setting up the Perez for his best round in the 5th. Only one judge gave it to him, though, as the official scores were 100-89, 100-90, and 99-91 in favor of Rocha.
Afterwards, Rocha called Perez a “tough mother” and called for Keith Thurman or Conor Benn in his next fight. Skeptics may see this one as a failure to finish a lesser opponent, and evidence that Rocha is a very good fighter who may not have another level to his potential. But, even a “hater,” as the kids would say, could only put Rocha closer to #15 than #10 in a very full and talented division. I don’t know if I’d pick him to beat Thurman or Benn, but I’d definitely give him a real shot in either fight.
As for Perez, he stood up strong through a lot of hard shots, and didn’t look like a guy fighting for the first time in almost 3 years. Golden Boy would be wise to sign him to a 2-3 fight deal to bring this sort of excitement to some undercards and Thursday shows.
DAZN's broadcast team gives this round to RICKY PEREZ...but how have you all scored this one so far?— Golden Boy (@GoldenBoyBoxing) October 30, 2022
Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
On to round 6...#DiazJrZepeda | LIVE on @DAZNboxing pic.twitter.com/sufOqhabYV
Did ANYONE think this would go past 7 rounds? What are your thoughts now that we move into the later rounds of Alexis Rocha VS Jesus RICKY Perez?#DiazJrZepeda | LIVE on @DAZNboxing pic.twitter.com/UGacRbqegn— Golden Boy (@GoldenBoyBoxing) October 30, 2022
Arely Mucino SD-10 Leonela Yudica
Arely Mucino took the IBF flyweight title from Leonela Yudica in a performance featuring an excellent mix of styles, with both women having moments of glory at various points in the fight. Mucino (32-3-2, 11 KO) did the heavier punching, working off the front foot and slugging away. Yudica (18-1-3, 1 KO) countered nicely and did her best work in the middle rounds as Mucino wore herself out a bit, but landed fewer and softer punches than Mucino.
Mucino looked rough afterwards, with a badly swollen left eye. The eyebrow puffed up because of repeated accidental head contact, but the swelling underneath all came from snappy counters from Yudica. The judges had a tough call to make, ultimately delivering 97-93 and 96-94 cards for Mucino and a 96-94 card for Yudica. All were reasonable cards, and a draw would have been just fine, too.
WBC and WBA flyweight champ Marlen Esparza was on guest commentary, and this fight was largely presented as an audition for a unification with her. No disrespect to Yudica and Mucino, who were well matched against one another and gave a good show, but Esparza is likely a level above.
Hector Valdez Jr SD-10 Max Ornelas
Very, very questionable result in the opener, where Hector Valdez won a split decision over Max Ornelas. Valdez (16-0, 8 KO) struggled to get much offense going in straight lines or plant his feet to throw with real power, as Ornelas (15-1-1, 5 KO) stayed mobile and circled well throughout. It wasn’t a crowd-pleasing style, and it didn’t generate a lot of highlights, but it’s very hard to explain how Ornelas exits with the first defeat of his career.
Two judges scored it 97-93 for Valdez, and it’s not clear where those seven rounds came from. Bad Left Hook’s unofficial card was 96-94 for Ornelas, a result that felt very Valdez-friendly until the official scores were announced. It looked like Ornelas controlled rounds 3-7, and only one or two rounds were clear for Valdez. The third judge had it 97-93 for Ornelas, which felt like a much more realistic interpretation of the in-ring action.
It’s a tough break for Ornelas, but his style wasn’t big on action, his movement was largely backwards or circular, and he did spend most of the last two rounds coasting to the finish line with little punch activity. Was this one a robbery? Maybe. But, if a rematch is necessary, it certainly doesn’t need to happen on television.