Unified junior welterweight world champion Josh Taylor, who saw his status as undisputed champion erased recently when he was stripped by the WBA for failing to finalize a mandatory defense against Albert Puello, plans to remain at junior welterweight and make his WBC mandatory defense against fellow southpaw Jose Zepeda next.
Taylor (19-0, 13 KO), 31, had talked about moving up to welterweight immediately following his controversial split decision win against WBO mandatory challenger Jack Catterall on Feb. 26, but has instead decided to remain at 140 pounds.
“Josh wants to pursue the Zepeda fight, so we are pursuing the Zepeda fight, which was mandated by the WBC,” Top Rank president Todd duBoef, who promotes Taylor and co-promotes Zepeda with Zanfer Promotions, told Big Fight Weekend.
When and where the fight will take place is unclear as duBoef said Top Rank still needs to make deals with both fighters, figure out if the fight will be in the United States or in Taylor’s home country of Scotland, and match up available dates with venues and their broadcast partners, ESPN in the United States and Sky Sports in the United Kingdom.
Zepeda (35-2, 27 KOs), 32, of La Puente, California, a former lightweight and junior welterweight world title challenger, has proven to be a worthy top contender.
In a 2015 lightweight title shot against Terry Flanagan, Zepeda was stopped in the second round due to a shoulder injury, but since a debatable majority decision loss in 2019 challenging then-WBC junior welterweight titlist Jose Ramirez (who would later lose a decision to Taylor in an undisputed unification fight), Zepeda is 5-0 with a no contest.
Included in that run is a decision over former two-division titlist Jose Pedraza, a fifth-round knockout of former junior welterweight titlist Ivan Baranchyk in the wildly dramatic 2020 consensus fight of the year and a stunning first-round destruction of Josue Vargas in a regional title bout in October.
“Zepeda had a fight of the year with Baranchyk and a one-round knockout of Vargas and is now in the mandatory position, so we are working with both teams to put this fight on next,” duBoef said.