William Zepeda-Maxi Hughes IBF Lightweight Title Eliminator In Play For March In Las Vegas

William Zepeda-Maxi Hughes IBF Lightweight Title Eliminator In Play For March In Las Vegas


Maxi Hughes will get another shot to move within title contention.

BoxingScene.com has confirmed that plans are in place for England’s Hughes to face Mexico’s William Zepeda in an IBF lightweight title eliminator. The bout was formally ordered by the sanctioning body, though it is believed that a deal is nearly in place for March.

Hughes has informed UK media that the fight would take place in Las Vegas. Golden Boy Promotions has a hold for March 16 at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, though the show is already rumored to be headlined by the Arsen Goulamirian-Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez WBA cruiserweight title fight.

ProBox TV’s Tris Dixon and Alan Dawson were the first to report the possibility of Zepeda-Hughes, in separate write-ups.

The winner of the bout will become the mandatory challenger for the IBF lightweight title. ESPN recently confirmed that former champs Vasiliy Lomachenko and George Kambosos are due—or at least targeted— to vie for the vacant title on May 12 on an ESPN platform from a location to be determined in Australia.

Hughes (26-6-2, 5KOs) gained a groundswell of support after a questionable twelve-round, majority decision defeat to Australia’s Kambosos. Their IBF semi-final eliminator last July 22 in Shawnee, Oklahoma saw Sydney’s Kambosos (21-2, 10KOs) win by scores of 115-113 and 117-111 to overrule a 114-114 card. The win was Kambosos’ first following a pair of defeats to Devin Haney, who has since abdicated his undisputed lightweight championship.

The setback snapped a seven-fight win streak for Hughes, a 33-year-old southpaw from Yorkshire who will now fight in the U.S. for a second consecutive time.

Zepeda (29-0, 25KOs) is among the top five listed contenders for all four major sanctioning bodies. It was previously believed that he would go the WBA route but is now poised to enter his first title eliminator with Kambosos and Lomachenko—ranked two and three, respectively (number one is “vacant”)—now poised to challenge for the title.

Mexico City’s Isaac Cruz is the only other contender ranked higher than Hughes and Zepeda but is apparently not available for the fight.

Zepeda resumed his knockout ways in a 2023 campaign after twice going the distance to close out his 2022 run.

The 27-year-old southpaw from San Mateo Atenco drilled Jaime Arboleda inside of two rounds atop an April 29 DAZN show from College Park Center on the University of Texas at Arlington campus. Zepeda then manhandled former title challenger Mercito Gesta en route to a sixth-round stoppage last September 16 in Commerce, California.

The wins were preceded by decision victories over former titlist Rene Alvarado and Joseph ‘JoJo’ Diaz in back-to-back fights in 2022.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. X (formerly Twitter): @JakeNDaBox


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