Preview: Jose Ramirez vs. Jose Zepeda
It’s a rare Sunday night title fight, as ESPN hosts a potential barnburner in Ramirez vs. Zepeda.
This Sunday, Top Rank on ESPN presents a world title fight as WBC Super Lightweight champion Jose Ramirez (23-0; 16 KO) defends his 140 lbs. title against Jose Zepeda (30-1; 25 KO). Ramirez vs. Zepeda takes place this Sunday, February 10 and airs live on ESPN with a fight time of 7:00 p.m. ET. Additional prelims air starting at 4:00 p.m. on ESPN+.
- 11 months - Ramirez won the WBC title 11 months ago, defeating Amir Imam for the vacant belt. He’s had one defense since, taking a decision over the then undefeated Antonio Orozco in September.
- 6 years - The champ has put together a pretty good record for only being a 6 year pro. That professional run began at the very end of 2012, the same year he represented the US in the London Olympics.
- 71-1 - That’s the combined record of his last three opponents at this time of their fights. Zepeda will extend that to 101-2. That’s a very good level of opposition.
- Home arena - This fight is in Fresno, close to home for Ramirez, and an area where he is actively involved in numerous community projects. He’s fought here many times before, including 3 of his last 5 fights. That should make him very comfortable, and should lead to a great crowd.
- Low profile - Despite being a legitimate champion ranked #3 in the division, Ramirez is not yet a widely known fighter. That’s perhaps in part a result of his division, which has an odd lack of star power when compared to Lightweight below, or Welterweight above. He would greatly benefit from not just a win here, but a highlight reel win.
- 2nd shot - This is Zepeda’s 2nd chance at a major world title; he lost his first to Terry Flanagan in 2015. He’s fought his way back by going 7-0 since with 1 No Contest.
- 1 loss - The Flanagan fight is Zepeda’s first loss, and it’s a weird one, as he suffered an odd shoulder injury in round 2, stopping the fight early. Yes, it’s a loss, but it’s hardly a definitive one.
- Mexico - Zepeda is not actually from Mexico, though you wouldn’t know it looking at his record. The California fighter has fought exclusively in Mexico since going on the road to take on Flanagan. As you would expect, his level of opponent there has been mixed - some good, some not so good. He steps into enemy territory again here.
- Southpaw - Zepeda is a southpaw, which is not a look Ramirez has much experience against. This will be just his 2nd southpaw opponent as a pro.
- +500 underdog - Those are steep odds Zepeda will have to overcome, and while he is maybe a bit underrated, I also don’t see a reason to think he upsets here.
What else is on the card?
- Raymundo Beltran (35-8-1; 21 KO) vs. Hiroki Okada (19-0; 13 KO) - This one prelim fight on the ESPN portion could be a very good one, as Beltran is the kind of gutsy warrior always worth watching. Okada is undefeated and showed good grit in his last outing. Good stuff here.
Between this and Saturday’s PBC on Showtime show, this is probably the more exciting overall card, even if it doesn’t feature quite the name power over on Showtime. But it should be a fun night, with the potential for two really good fights.
Prediction: Jose Ramirez, UD