British and Commonwealth super-lightweight champion Dalton Smith takes a significant step up in class when the Matchroom-backed fighter takes on Jose Zepeda in Sheffield on Saturday 23rd March.
Smith has dismissed a whole host of domestic challengers and the 26-year-old is rated as one of British boxing’s top prospects.
Zepeda is a three-time world title challenger and although the California puncher has lost two of his last three fights, they have come against the top-level Regis Prograis and highly-rated Richardson Hitchins.
Smith will have a home south Yorkshire crowd on side in Sheffield on a card that also features an intriguing clash between Terri Harper and Sandy Ryan.
Here is everything you need to know ahead of the Sheffield showdown.
The contest will take place on Matchroom’s card at Sheffield’s Utilita Arena on Saturday 23rd March 2024.
This contest will be the chief support to the WBO welterweight world title fight between Harper and Ryan. It’s expected that the Smith v Zepeda clash will get underway at 22:00, but exact timings will depend on the duration of the undercard bouts.
On paper, this certainly represents the toughest test of Smith’s career, but the Thunder is still a red-hot 4/11.
Zepeda has mixed it at a higher level, but the 34-year-old may be past his peak and the Californian is available at 11/5.
The contest between Smith and Zepeda will take place at Sheffield’s Utilita Arena, which means a home south Yorkshire crown for the Thunder.
Zepeda is no stranger to fighting in Britain, having unsuccessfully challenged Terry Flanagan for the WBO world lightweight title in Manchester back in 2015.
The fight will be shown live on subscription streaming service DAZN. The bout will be available in over 200 countries and can be viewed on a myriad of devices.
Smith is the British and Commonwealth super-lightweight king, but those belts are not on the line when he meets Zepeda in Sheffield.
The American is a three-time world title challenger and the 34-year-old is a former WBC Silver super-lightweight champion.
15-0 (11 KOs)
Smith has won all of his 15 professional bouts, with 11 of those coming by stoppage.
The Thunder was a gifted amaetur and there have been no issues for the 26-year-old transferring his talents over to the paid ranks.
The Sheffield slickster won the vacant British super-lightweight belt when beating Sam O'maison back in 2022.
Smith defeated Kaisee Benjamin, Billy Allington and Sam Maxwell to win a Lonsdale belt outright and the 26-year-old added the Commonwealth strap to his collection when beating Maxwell last time out.
A contest against a three-time world title challenger is a step up for the man from the Steel City, but the Thunder has shown bags of class and ability and his 34-year-old opponent could be a fading force.
37-4 (28 KOs)
Zepeda got his first shot at the big time when challenging Flanagan for the WBO world lightweight title in 2015, but the 34-year-old came up short and lost his unbeaten record.
"Chon" was also beaten by Jose Carlos Ramirez when trying to land an elite belt in 2019 and more recently the Californian has been defeated by Prograis and Hitchins.
Zepeda’s overall record stands at 37-4 (28 KOs) and the American has certainly mixed it at a high level.
That said, Chon has lost two of his last three fights and the 34-year-old could well be past his peak.
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