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William Zepeda vs Maxi Hughes eliminator in talks for March 16th

Maxi Hughes lost a controversial decision to George Kambosos Jr in an eliminator last year

Mercito Gesta v William Zepeda Photo by Cris Esqueda/Golden Boy/Getty Images
Patrick Stumberg is a freelance writer for SB Nation, first joining the network in 2011 before linking up with Bad Left Hook in 2015.

The winner of Vasiliy Lomachenko’s brewing title fight with George Kambosos Jr may not have to wait long for his first mandatory challenger, as both William Zepeda and Maxi Hughes tell ProBox TV that they’re in talks to potentially meet on March 16th in Las Vegas.

Hughes (26-6-2, 5 KO) claims that the bout will serve as both an IBF and WBA eliminator. He admits he’s not sure how that works and I’ll admit to being in the same boat; he and Zepeda (29-0, 25 KO) sit at no. 5 and no. 6 with the IBF behind Kambosos, Lomachenko, and Isaac Cruz, but Hughes isn’t ranked at all with the WBA.

Not that that’s ever stopped Gilberto and co., to be fair.

In any case, it’s a nice bit of justice for Hughes, who outclassed Kambosos in an eliminator last July before getting hosed on the cards. “Nice” does not necessarily mean kind, as Zepeda’s power and volume present a far more fearsome challenge than Kambosos’ offbeat style.

Then again, Hughes has made a career out of flipping the script and looks to be the best technician Zepeda’s faced, with the possible exception of a bloated JoJo Diaz. It’s a genuinely interesting clash of styles and a stern test for both men; let’s hope it comes together and gives the division the kick it needs after a wonky 2023.

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