May 22: Jose Zepeda-Pedro Campa & Elvis Rodriguez
Kenneth Sims Jr. Added to Ramirez-Taylor Card!
(April 1st) The most anticipated fight of the first half of 2021 now has some powerful backup. Jose “Chon” Zepeda will battle Mexican veteran Pedro Campa in a 10-round junior welterweight battle Saturday, May 22, which will serve as the co-feature to the undisputed junior welterweight world title bout between WBC/WBO champion Jose Ramirez and IBF/WBA champion Josh Taylor.
And, in a junior welterweight special attraction scheduled for eight rounds, top prospect Elvis “The Dominican Kid” Rodriguez will take a seismic step up against Chicago native and one-time U.S. amateur standout Kenneth “Bossman” Sims Jr.
This junior welterweight tripleheader will air live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes (simulcast on ESPN+) starting at 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT. Location, venue and ticket information will be announced shortly.
“The current and future stars of the junior welterweight division will be on display May 22,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “Jose Zepeda is one of the very best 140-pounders in the world, and he’ll have a chance to cement his status against a rugged Mexican in Pedro Campa. Elvis Rodriguez is a future world champion. Kenneth Sims Jr. is no pushover, but we believe this is the ideal next step as he continues his development.”
Zepeda (33-2, 26 KOs) is coming off last October’s fifth-round knockout over former world champion Ivan Baranchyk, the consensus 2020 Fight of the Year that featured eight total knockdowns culminating in the one-hitter quitter that ended the bout. A two-time world title challenger who pushed Jose Ramirez to a majority decision in their 2019 showdown, Zepeda is unbeaten in four fights since the Ramirez defeat, including a one-sided decision over two-weight world champion Jose Pedraza. Campa (32-1-1, 21 KOs), from Guaymas, Mexico, is 5-0-1 since the lone defeat of his career and most recently toppled veteran Carlos Cardenas by majority decision.
“I’m ready to go,” Zepeda said. After my Fight of the Year with Baranchyk, I’m better than ever. It’s only a matter of time before I become a world champion.”
The Freddie Roach-trained Rodriguez (11-0-1, 10 KOs), one of boxing’s elite young talents, went 5-0 inside the MGM Grand Las Vegas Bubble, including four stoppages in three rounds or less. He went the distance for the first time in his career Feb. 20, topping Argentinian veteran Luis Alberto Veron by eight-round unanimous decision. Sims (15-2-1, 5 KOs), who lost to Jose Ramirez by one point at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, has sparred with the likes of Manny Pacquiao and Jorge Linares in the paid ranks. His defeats have come via close decisions to Rolando Chinea and Samuel Teah, but he has won two straight since the 2018 unanimous decision verdict to Teah. Against Rodriguez, he has the opportunity to flash the amateur pedigree that saw him defeat the likes of current contenders Lamont Roach Jr., O’Shaquie Foster and Albert Bell.
Rodriguez said, "I am happy and grateful for this opportunity, and I am going to make the most of it. It is a great step for my career, and I want to continue to show the boxing world that I have the talent to achieve great things."
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Jose Ramirez and Josh Taylor
To Battle for Undisputed Jr. Welterweight Crown
May 22nd LIVE On ESPN!
(March 2nd) Two undefeated junior welterweight kings, one undisputed title. The stakes don’t get any higher.
WBC/WBO champion Jose Ramirez, the pride of California’s Central Valley, will fight Scotland’s IBF/WBA champion Josh Taylor for the undisputed world championship Saturday, May 22. The winner will become only the second undisputed junior welterweight champion of the four-belt era, joining pound-for-pound great Terence “Bud” Crawford.
“This is the best boxing has to offer, two elite fighters in the prime of their careers colliding in a legacy-defining matchup for the undisputed championship of the world,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “It’s a true 50-50 fight, one that the fans and both fighters demanded.”
Ramirez (26-0, 17 KOs) has been a world champion since March 2018, when he toppled Amir Imam via unanimous decision to win the vacant WBC strap. Following the Imam victory, he hired noted trainer Robert Garcia, and the duo has combined to go 4-0 in world title fights. Ramirez knocked out Maurice Hooker in July 2019 to unify world titles and defended his belts last August with a majority decision over former world champion Viktor Postol. Ramirez, a proud son of Mexican immigrants who hails from Avenal, Calif., is an agent of social change in his community. He’s devoted his time and resources to myriad causes, including cancer research, water rights for area farmers, and COVID-19 relief for Central Valley field workers.
“I look forward to making history by becoming the first boxer of Mexican descent to hold all four major world title belts,” Ramirez said. “I dedicate this fight to the Central Valley farm workers, who are out there every day helping feed the world. This fight is big, but nothing is bigger than getting vaccinations to the farm workers right now in the Central Valley.”
"No excuses, no fake social media promises, no grandstanding. This is the best fighting the best at their absolute best,” said Rick Mirigian, Ramirez’s manager. “Jose will have his hand raised in the end, solidifying his status as a Hall of Famer.”
Like Ramirez, Taylor (17-0, 13 KOs) fought as a lightweight at the 2012 London Olympics, where he advanced to the Round of 16. While he didn’t turn pro until 2015, “The Tartan Tornado” won the Commonwealth 140-pound title in only his seventh pro bout. Taylor toppled Postol by unanimous decision in 2018 and won the IBF world title the following year with a decision over Ivan Baranchyk. He unified the IBF and WBA titles in October 2019, edging Regis Prograis by majority decision in a brutal masterpiece. He made his first defense as a unified champion last September, blasting out mandatory challenger Apinun Khongsong in the first round. Taylor hopes to make a little history of his own as the first undisputed, four-belt Scottish champion.
Taylor said, “I’m excited it’s been finalized and over the line. I can’t wait to get in there for the biggest fight of my career. Fighting for the undisputed title is something all boxers dream about.”