By Dan Ambrose: WBC light welterweight champion Josh Taylor has been ordered to begin negotiations with #1 contender Jose Zepeda by the World Boxing Council on Thursday.
Taylor (19-0, 13 KOs) and Zepeda (35-2, 27 KOs) have until May 24th to attempt to hammer out a deal before a purse bid is ordered.
It’s expected that undisputed 140-lb champion Taylor, 31, will vacate his WBC title and his other three titles and move up to 147. If that’s the case, the WBC will order a fight between Zepeda and the next available & willing contender in their rankings.
The #2 in the rankings with the WBC is Jose Ramirez. In the end, Ramirez (27-1, 17 KOs) will probably be the one that ultimately faces the hard-hitting 32-year-old Zepeda.
Three years ago, Ramirez beat Zepeda by a questionable 12-round majority decision in February 2019 in Fresno, California. Zepeda was picking Ramirez off all night long, showing himself to be the better-skilled fighter of the two.
Taylor was already ordered last week to defend his WBA title by the World Boxing Association against #1 challenger Alberto Puello. Nothing has happened with that fight either, and it’s unknown what is taking Taylor so long to vacate his titles.
Could it be that Taylor is starting to have misgivings about moving up to welterweight after the way he struggled against his WBO 140-lb mandatory Jack Catterall last February?
Taylor looked something awful against Catterall, getting dominated by the Englishman in Glasgow, Scotland. The decision for Taylor was an unpopular one, as many boxing fans saw him as the clear loser in that fight.
The way Taylor looked against Catterall and in the most brutal fight of his career against Regis Prograis in 2019, he’s not talented enough to beat the top welterweights like Terence Crawford, Errol Spence Jr., Keith Thurman, or Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis. Heck, even Conor Benn would likely do a number on Taylor.
“As per prior communications and with the agreement which all four presidents (WBC-WBO-IBF-WBA) confirmed in the meeting held in Puerto Rico, the WBC mandatory defense is next, followed by the IBF,” said the WBC.
“The WBC is hereby advising of the beginning of the free negotiations period for the Josh Taylor´s mandatory title defense versus Jose Zepeda.
“If no agreement is reached, the WBC will conduct a purse bid on Tuesday, May 24th, 2022.”
Zepeda looked impressive in his last fight, destroying Josue Vargas by a first-round knockout last October at Madison Square Garden in New York.
At this point, Taylor can’t be looking forward to a grueling fight against Zepeda, as that would be a tough match-up for him. Zepeda wouldn’t have any issues fighting Taylor on the inside the way Prograis unsuccessfully did.
It’ll be interesting to see if Taylor vacates his four 140-lb titles and goes up or if he decides to stay in the weight class and defend against the dangerous Zepeda.