On Friday, July ninth a highly touted unbeaten lightweight entered the ring in need of a win to elevate him to the elite in the division, potentially propelling him to fights with the biggest names in the division. Devin Haney, Ryan Garcia, and Jo Jo Diaz were all realistic fights that awaited the unbeaten upstart should he secure the victory on the big stage. We certainly got a dominant breakthrough performance that deserves a follow-up mega fight. It just came from the wrong lightweight. 25-year-old William Zepeda, of San Mateo Atenco, Mexico, dominated and forced the unbeaten Hector Tanajara of San Antonio, Texas to quit on his stool after six fairly one-sided rounds. The win was certainly the most impressive and important of Zepeda’s blossoming career in which he was able to move his record 23-0 (21), capture the WBA Continental Americas lightweight title as well as our Prospect of the Month award.
Entering the ring at the Banc of California Stadium, in Los Angeles, the conflict of styles and paths to victory was obvious. Commentator Chris Mannix used a Rocky comparison comparing the fight to Appolo Creed vs Drago. It was the quick, skillful, Tanajara who got off to a quick start. Jabbing and moving to keep Zepeda at bay. That, however, quickly changed in the second round as Zepeda was able to overcome the reach disadvantage and battered Tanajara on the inside, who was a bit too willing to exchange on the inside with the harder-hitting Mexican. The bout became fairly one-sided in the third and fourth with Zepeda outworking and breaking down Tanajara. The Texan got back on his bicycle and back to boxing and moving in the fifth but the damage was accumulating and by the sixth round the writing was on the wall. Zepeda walked through a couple of right hands and bullied his man on the inside. Forcing him up against the ropes and ripping hooks to the body and left hands to the head that staggered Tanajara several times. As the sixth round concluded it was painfully obvious that Tanajara was a beaten man and his trained Robert Garcia informed the ref that his man had enough. Giving Zepeda his 23rd win and 21st KO in 23 fights.
Outside of one undercard fight on a Ring City USA card Zepeda had not fought in the US and was largely unknown to the American fight fan. After a dominating performance over a highly touted prospect, he no longer has that problem. He is no longer an under-the-radar talent. All of those fights that were waiting for Tanajara should he win are now on the table as real options for Zepeda. Fortunately for the undefeated Mexican lightweight, most of the talent in his weight class fights on DAZN and given the working relationship between Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions and Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing any of the fighters in either stable seems to have a good chance to be made, and that includes Jo Jo Diaz, Ryan Garcia, Jorge Linares as well as Devin Haney and given the performance, he handed in against Tanajara he would have a real shot in any of those matchups.