British contender Dalton Smith to face veteran Jose Zepeda

British contender Dalton Smith to face veteran Jose Zepeda

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FIGHT WEEK

British 140-pound contender Dalton Smith could face his toughest test yet when he meets veteran Jose Zepeda on Saturday in Sheffield, England.

DALTON SMITH (15-0, 11 KOs)VS. JOSE ZEPEDA (37-4, 28 KOs)

Date: Saturday, March 23
Time: 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT (main event later in show)
Where: Sheffield Arena, Sheffield, England
TV/Stream: DAZN
Division: Junior welterweight (140 pounds)
At stake: No major titles
Pound-for-pound: None
Odds: Smith 2½-1 favorite (average of multiple outlets)
Significance (up to five stars): ***

Also on the card: Sandy Ryan vs. Terri Harper, welterweights (for Ryan’s WBO title); Campbell Hatton vs. James Flint, junior welterweights; Ishmael Davis vs. Troy Williamson, junior middleweights

Background: Smith, who holds the British 140-pound championship, has made his mark on the national and European level. Now it’s time to take on the world. That starts with a fight against three-time world title challenger Zepeda in Smith’s hometown of Sheffield. Smith, 27, is a well-schooled boxer-puncher. His power was on full display in his most recent bout, in which he overcame multiple cuts to knock out Londoner Sam Maxwell with a single right hand in the seventh round last July. That victory followed unanimous decisions over Kaisee Benjamin and Billy Allington in 2022 and early last year. Smith is ranked No. 12 by the WBC. Zepeda, 34, can’t afford to lose if he hopes to remain a relevant fighter. The Los Angeles-area fighter has had his share of success – including victories over Ivan Baranchyk, Jose Pedraza and Hank Lundy – but he’s 1-2 in his last three fights and has failed in three attempts to capture a world title. He had bad luck in his first try, when he dislocated his shoulder and had to quit after two rounds against then-champion Terry Flanagan in 2015. He came closest to winning one when he lost a majority decision to then-titlist Jose Ramirez in 2019. Then, in November 2022, he was stopped in 11 rounds by Regis Prograis. He was nearly shut out by Richardson Hitchins last September, raising questions about his future as an elite boxer.

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