Via Dan Ambrose: WBC lightweight champion Josh Taylor has been asked by the World Boxing Council to begin negotiations with No. 1 contender Jose Zepeda on Thursday.
Taylor (19-0.13 KOs) and Zepeda (35-2.27 KOs) have until May 24 to try to strike a deal before bids are set.
It is expected that the undisputed 140 lb champion Taylor, 31, will vacate the WBC title and his three other titles and move up to 147. If that is the case, the WBC will order a fight. between Zepeda and the next ready & willing candidate in the rankings.
2nd place in the ranking with WBC is Jose Ramirez. In the end, Ramirez (27-1, 17 KOs) will likely be the last to face 32-year-old Zepeda.
Three years ago, Ramirez beat Zepeda by a questionable 12-round majority decision in February 2019 in Fresno, California. Zepeda hunted Ramirez through the night, proving himself to be the best fighter of the two.
Last week, Taylor was ordered by the World Boxing Association to defend her WBA title against No. 1 challenger Alberto Puello. Nothing happened with that fight either, and it’s unknown what took Taylor so long to vacate her titles.
Could it be that Taylor is starting to doubt his promotion to the weight class after the way he struggled against mandatory Jack Catterall at his 140-lb WBO last February?
Taylor looks like something terrible to Catterall, dominated by the British in Glasgow, Scotland. The decision for Taylor was an unpopular one, as many boxing fans saw him as the clear loser in that bout.
The way Taylor faced Catterall and in the most brutal battle of his career against Regis Prograis in 2019, he wasn’t talented enough to beat top heavyweights like Terence Crawford, Errol Spence Jr., Keith Thurman or Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis. Heck, even Conor Benn will probably do some with Taylor.
“According to previous communications and with the agreement that all four presidents (WBC-WBO-IBF-WBA) confirmed during the meeting held in Puerto Rico, the mandatory defense of the WBC is to follow, to continue. followed by IBF,” WBC.
“The WBC hereby provides advice on starting the free negotiations period for Josh Taylor’s mandatory title defense versus Jose Zepeda.
“If no agreement is reached, WBC will conduct a tender for the purse on Tuesday, May 24, 2022.”
Zepeda looked impressive in his final game, knocking out Josue Vargas with a first-round knockout last October at Madison Square Garden in New York.
At this point, Taylor can’t expect a tough fight against Zepeda, as it will be a tough one for him. Zepeda won’t have any problem fighting Taylor internally the way Prograis did unsuccessfully.
It will be interesting if Taylor skips his four 140 lb titles and goes up or if he decides to stay in the weight class and defend against dangerous Zepeda.