William Zepeda of San Mateo Atenco, Mexico (29-0, 25 KOs) gave fans in Commerce, California plenty to celebrate on Mexican Independence Day while putting the highly competitive lightweight division on notice.
Zepeda blasted out a game but overwhelmed Mercito Gesta of San Diego, California (34-4-3, 17 KOs), unleashing a nonstop assault of power punches until Gesta’s trainer, Marvin Somodio requested the bout be stopped at 1:31 of the sixth round. Zepeda retains his minor WBA Continental lightweight title.
Zepeda came at Gesta from the opening bell and never let up. His hand speed combined with freakish stamina makes Zepeda a fighting machine. Zepeda ripped Gesta to the body, followed by power jabs and headshots.
Gesta and Somodio knew Zepeda would come at them early. But at age 35, after 20 years in the sport, what Gesta knew he needed to do and what he could execute didn’t match up. It’s a big ask of any opponent to process the sheer volume of offense coming from Zepeda and react to it. Gesta could only pick and choose spots to land something on Zepeda.
Gesta looked exhausted from the effects of Zepeda’s work rate by the end of the second round. He didn’t allow Gesta to take a breath, bouncing body shots off Gesta as he backed him up into the ropes.
Gesta drew on his reserves in the fourth round, but Zepeda kept coming and cutting off the ring. Gesta couldn’t manage the speed and volume and quickly became a heavy human bag.
After the fifth round, referee Jack Reiss informed Somodio and Gesta, “You’re taking too much on the ropes. Marvin, I’m worried.” Gesta told them, “I’m OK, I’m good.” Reiss tells him, “You got to stay off those ropes.”
Meanwhile, Zepeda’s trainer, Jacob Pando told Zepeda it was time to finish Gesta. Somodio and Reiss kept a close eye on Gesta while Zepeda let his fists fly. With Gesta still upright but quickly fading, Somodio called it a night, and Reiss stopped the fight.
“Thank you to Team Gesta and Golden Boy. I wanted a fight with an experienced fighter, and he gave that to me,” said Zepeda. “In the first round, I knew I had to keep on working.”
Another Record-Setting Performance by El Cameron
Zepeda landed 286 of 618 total punches (46%), with 242 being power shots (54%). Gesta landed just 82 of 329 punches (26%) and 62 power punches (31%). Gesta’s output would be reasonable against nearly anyone else. Remember that Zepeda’s numbers are for just five and a half total rounds.
In his fight against Joseph Diaz Jr. in October 2022, William Zepeda set @CompuBox records at lightweight for total punches thrown (1,536), jabs attempted in a round (89 in round 2), and attempted jabs. Saturday, Zepeda landed career highs for total punches (76) and power punches (69) in round three.
Is Teofimo Lopez Jr. Next on Zepeda's Schedule?
Zepeda’s trainer Panda said, “We want to fight all the champions, whoever’s out there at 135. He’s ready for each and every one of them. Devin Haney is the champion, we want to fight Devin Haney.” El Cameron added in English, “I’m ready to fight Devin Haney.”
Haney has other business with Regis Prograis, and it's unlikely he'll stay in the lightweight division. Sitting ringside in Commerce next to Golden Boy promoter Oscar De La Hoya watching Zepeda’s performance with great interest is previously retired former lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez Jr. A fight between Lopez Jr. and Zepeda feels just right.
“Sky’s the limit for him. He’s only getting better. He’s getting faster,” said De La Hoya. “William Zepeda will be a dangerous fighter for anyone at 135, even 140. I’m really looking forward to him facing everyone and beating everyone at 135.”
Gesta told reporter Steve Angeles of ABS-CBN News after the fight he intends to continue boxing and will return.
Morales and Palomares Go To Guerra
Victor Morales of Vancouver, Washington (19-0-1, 9 KOs) remained undefeated in a Mexican Independence Day guerra, outworking Edwin Palomares of Mexico City (18-5-2, 9 KOs). Morales retains his WBA Intercontinental featherweight title.
The wide scorecards of 100-90, 99-91, and 96-94 for Morales didn’t reflect the rough back-and-forth action between the fighters. Morales suffered two significant cuts, the worst from an uppercut in the sixth round. He pressed on, and in the final round, both men unloaded. Morales thought the 10-second warning was the end of the fight. Palomares got in one free punch before Morales avoided a disaster.
“We knew he was going to come ready to go, tough like he did. That’s what we wanted for this weekend.,” said Morales, who said nothing was going to stop him, not even the cuts that affected his peripheral vision. “I feel like I outboxed him, I got cut, it doesn’t matter to me. I went out there and did what I needed to do. I went to outboxing him and made it happen,” said Morales.
Morales landed 162 or 434 punches thrown (37%), with 134 power punches; Palomares landed 136 of 564 (24%) with 104 power punches landing.
Yokasta Valle Defends Belts
Yokasta Valle of Costa Rica (29-2, 9 KOs) dominated in her IBF and WBO minimum weight title defense against Maria Santizo of Guatemala (11-4, 6 KOs).
Valle badly wanted to score a knockout like her nemesis Seniesa Estrada did against Santizo in 2021, but she had to settle for a wide decision by scores of 100-90 and 99-91 twice. Valle deployed hard overhand rights and counter shots to battle Sentizo, but the Guatemalan is a tough competitor in multiple combat sports and wouldn’t yield.
“I knew it was going to be a tough fight and she brought it to me. We wanted to put on a show for the fans,” said Valle.
Asked about Estrada, who recently had hand surgery, Valle said, “First she needs to heal. When she heals, we’ll talk.” In the meantime, Valle said she’ll fight again in her home country of Costa Rica on November 4.
Undercard Wins for Fulghum, Priest
Darius Fulghum of El Paso, Texas (7-0, 7 KOs) knew Oscar De La Joya would be watching his fight as an audition to join the Golden Boy stable. Fulghum, a good-looking light heavyweight, went straight at veteran Ricardo Luna of Mexico City (25-11-2, 16 KOs).
Luna took damage from the opening bell and didn’t see anything coming. Luna took a knee midway through round two after taking a short left hook, with blood pouring from a cut to the top right of his head. He stood for the count, but his corner wisely threw in the towel at 1:30 of round two.
“You never know what’s going to happen, you have a tough veteran in the game. Our plan was to adapt and bring out the best in ourselves. Oscar, I hope you’re looking at the next superstar you’ve got on your hands,” said Fulghum after his win.
Middleweight Eric Priest of Wichita Falls, Texas (11-0, 7 KOs) put in eight solid rounds against Simon Madsen of Cancun, Mexico via Denmark (13-2, 10 KOs). Scores were all over the map: 80-72, 79-73, and 76 even. Priest was more economical and accurate with his power punches at close range, giving him the victory.