Tuesday, December 05, 2023  |


Richardson Hitchins to Jose Zepeda: Opponents like Baranchyk made mistakes but I don’t

September 21, 2023; Orlando, Florida; Richardson Hitchins and Jose Zepeda pose after the final press conference for the Matchroom Boxing card taking place on Saturday September 23, 2023 at the Caribe Royale in Orlando, Florida. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom.
Fighters Network

Richardson Hitchins is on the verge of facing the best fighters at 140 pounds.

Standing in his way is former world title challenger Jose Zepeda. Hitchins believes he can not only make a statement at the expense of Zepeda, but also send a message to the rest of the junior welterweight division.

Hitchins and Zepeda will square off Saturday night at the Caribe Royale in Orlando, Florida. The 12-round bout will headline a four-bout card that will stream live on DAZN (8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT). 

The 25-year-old Hitchins (16-0, 7 knockouts) has defeated solid opposition in recent months, including his last bout on February 4, dropping John Bauza twice en route to a one-sided decision victory. The victory over Bauza took place almost three months after Hitchins stopped once-beaten Yomar Alamo after the eighth round. 

Hitchins was originally scheduled to face Montana Love on July 15, but Love pulled out of the fight, reportedly due to suffering an injury during training camp for the fight. 

Despite the added time out of the ring due to Love pulling out of the fight, Hitchins has stayed in the gym, which is based in New Jersey, where he currently resides. 

Zepeda (37-3, 28 KOs) will be a significant step up in opposition for Hitchins. The 34-year-old faced and lost by knockout to Regis Prograis on November 26, with the vacant WBC world title belt on the line. Zepeda returned to action on March 25, defeating Neeraj Goyat by decision.

Even though Zepeda has more experience and having fought the better opposition between the two, Hitchins believes he is the better fighter and will defeat Zepeda Saturday night.

“Jose Zepeda has fought a lot of professional fights, but also, he doesn’t have that on his record,” said Hitchins at Thursday’s press conference. “Also, he’s fought a lot of guys who don’t have the athleticism or the same skill-set than what I bring to the table. They’re all one-dimensional guys. You know, guys like Ivan Baranchyk, who was one of his best wins, but that guy was nothing. He had no fundamental skills at all in the ring. 

“When he gets in the ring with me this Saturday, it doesn’t matter how many fights he’s had or whether he’s been in with Jose Ramirez.”

Zepeda lost a close majority decision to Ramirez in February 2019. Zepeda would win six fights in a row, including the all-out war against Barancyk, which produced a total of eight knockdowns before Zepeda stopped Baranchyk in the fifth round. 

Hitchins is confident in his ability, even going back to when he fought under the Mayweather Promotions banner. A few of the name fighters Hitchins has beaten are Tre’Sean Wiggins, Argenis Mendez, and Malik Hawkins.

Mendez was a former world titleholder. Hitchins is confident Zepeda will be the second world titleholder he will defeat, come Saturday. 

“Jose Zepeda says that I have never fought at this level,” said Hitchins, who is now promoted by Eddie Hearn. “But he is forgetting that I was a kid at 22 years old with only ten professional fights and beating guys like Argenis Mendez, a guy who had already won a world title. For every fight after that, I told anybody and everybody who they put me in the ring with that isn’t on a world championship level, that is a step down.

“There’s a reason why I’m here after 16 fights. I’m a very smart fighter. He’ll figure that out when I open up on him. You will see that on Saturday night. Everything he says when he talks about levels, he’s fought people like Josue Vargas, who he talked his way into the fight. I fought my way into this fight, and I have dominated everybody who has been put in front of me. He will be in a tough fight. I’m going to be around here for a long time.”

A spot in the top 10 rankings awaits Hitchins, should he come out victorious. Also awaiting Hitchins are fights against top contenders in a very stacked 140-pound division.

Hitchins is not overlooking Zepeda, but is confident in his ability and what he can do in the ring. A win over Zepeda would solidify his standing as one to watch in the junior welterweight division. 

“I can’t say that I’m looking at this as a tough test, but it is a test because Jose Zepeda got here by being a great boxer. But guys like Baranchyk made mistakes against him, so he won. 

“But he can’t do that with me because I don’t make mistakes.”

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]