UNBEATEN puncher Jose Zepeda will face fellow unbeaten, Terry Flanagan [pictured] of Manchester on July 11. On the line will be the vacant WBO lightweight title and both men are full of confidence ahead of the intriguing, potentially explosive match-up.
Zepeda, 23-0(20) and aged 26 has boxed as a light-welterweight and a welterweight in the past yet the switch-hitter (“I have done that since I was 15 and it worked for me and I got better and better at it so I stuck with it”) says he feels lightweight is the “perfect” weight class for him right now. Trained by Robert Alcazar, who has worked with top names such as Oscar De La Hoya, Zepeda feels the experience he has picked up will do him the power of good.
Here he speaks exclusively to Boxing News:
How much have you seen of Terry Flanagan?
I have seen quite a bit of him. I saw his last fight, when he won the WBO European title. But right now, my trainer Robert Alcazar is handling that, looking at tapes and we will then prepare tactics at the gym.
This will be your first fight outside of either America or Mexico. Are you at all nervous ahead of your first fight in England?
No, not at all. I am not nervous, I am excited to be fighting for the world title. I am now ready to begin training to be able to capture my first world title. Lightweight, 135-pounds is the perfect weight class for me right now. But in the future I do plan to move back up.
With this fight being in England against an English fighter, are you aiming to win by KO thus removing any concern with the judges?
No, I’m not looking for a KO. I never look for a KO when I fight, if one comes, it comes. I am planning to win each round, round by round. I know that the three judges will score this fight fairly. I have no concerns there.
You are a big puncher and you have yet to go past the eighth-round. Are you confident you can go 12 hard rounds if need be? Flanagan says he will beat you with his relentless pace.
It doesn’t mean anything that my fights have all ended early. I am always preparing for a full 12-rounds. I have absolutely no doubt I can go the full 12. I am confident I can do this.
What would you say is your most impressive win to date?
I’d say the fight I had against Victor Manuel Cayo (in November of 2014, a one-round win) because nobody was expecting me to KO him so early in the fight. I have stopped a few guys early when nobody thought I would – like my fights against [Ricardo] Dominguez (TKO 3 in 2013) and [Rodolfo] Quintalla (TKO5 in 2012).”
And who has given you your toughest fight to date?
Oh, I have no comment on that.
How is it working with the accomplished Robert Alcazar?
Working with Robert has been a great, great experience. It truly is a pleasure to have one of the sport’s best trainers, one of the world’s best, in my corner. With the vast amount of experience he has in world title fights, I know this will give me the upper hand in my fights. I am so happy to have Robert in my corner.
What was you amateur career like and did you face any big names the fans will be familiar with?
I only had 15 amateur fights and no, I didn’t fight any big names.
Where do you most enjoy fighting, in the U.S or in Mexico?
I actually have friends and family in both countries, who come and support me. So I would say I enjoy fighting in both countries.
Do you feel you are at your peak at age 26?
I don’t feel I’m at my peak just yet, but I really have grown, especially with me sparring great fighters like Floyd Mayweather – who I sparred as he was getting ready for his huge fight with Manny Pacquiao, who people say I have a similar style to. It was a real honour to be even a small part of the biggest fight in history. We did four-minute rounds – and Chris Algieri and Timothy Bradley. To work with such great fighters, it gives me extra motivation and of course experience.