Saturday, September 30, 2023  |


Jose Zepeda stomps on Josue Vargas in one

Jose Zepeda is victorious following an emphatic opening-round stoppage of Josue Vargas. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images
Fighters Network

NEW YORK – Apparently, Jose Zepeda does have something left after his blood war with Ivan Baranchyk last October.

Zepeda (35-2, 27 knockouts) needed 105 seconds to stomp out Josue Vargas (19-2, 9 KOs) in the first round of their scheduled 10-round junior welterweight headliner Saturday night at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater.

The two got into a heated shoving match during the weigh-in on Friday, and it took little time for Zepeda to bang out Vargas, knocking him down with a brutal left hook, then finishing him with a barrage of shots that ended it at 1:45 of the first.

“I was ready. I was 100 percent ready, and I told him in the press conference there’s levels to this. He was the one who wanted to fight me. I just accepted the fight, and it showed today that boxing is not a game in there. There’s levels to this.”

“I told him, and he probably knew I hit hard,” Zepeda said. “I don’t think he recovered after that shot.

“After the way he went down, I didn’t think (he’d recover). He probably was going to head up, but he was going to be wobbly on his feet, and that’s what happened and I was able to finish him.

“I’m 32 years old, and I’m in my prime. I want the WBC world title and all the belts, to be honest. I’m ready for it. I showed today I’m ready for the WBC world title.”

Josue Vargas (L) didn’t last long against Jose Zepeda (R) during their 140-pound fight at The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on October 30, 2021 in New York City. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images

Zepeda, a southpaw like Vargas, was coming off a 10-round unanimous decision over Hank Lundy in May. But that came with a caveat of looking dull against the shopworn, though tough 37-year-old from Philadelphia.

It opened up speculation that Zepeda was not himself after the blood war he survived against Baranchyk last October.

He may have answered those doubts against Vargas.

Zepeda is now unbeaten in six fights since his controversial decision loss to Jose Ramirez. Josh Taylor now rules the 140-pounders as the undisputed champion, though this victory keeps Zepeda’s name fresh among the top division contenders.

“He caught me with a good left hand, and I tried to recover, but I think I got up too fast,” Vargas said. “That’s what happened. Overall, I’m OK. I’m good. I’m healthy. We’re not stopping from here. It’s on to the next.

“I learned from my disqualification loss, and now I learned from my second loss.

“It’s part of the sport. The greatest athletes in boxing have losses. I’m not ashamed of myself. I’ll be back stronger, for sure.”


Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/ since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito.


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