Richardson Hitchins has a new date and arguably an upgraded opponent for his next outing.
BoxingScene.com has learned that the unbeaten contender will next face former title challenger Jose ‘Chon’ Zepeda. The junior welterweight crossroads bout will headline a September 23 DAZN show in Orlando, Florida that will include a welterweight unification bout between lineal/WBC/WBA champ Jessica McCaskill and WBO titlist Sandy Ryan.
Brooklyn’s Hitchins (16-0, 7KOs)—a 2016 Olympian for Haiti—was previously due to face Montana Love, with whom he developed an instant rivalry immediately after he signed with Matchroom Boxing last year.
The two appeared on the same November 12 show in Love’s Cleveland hometown intended to raise interest in a head-on collision. Hitchins prevailed in an eighth-round knockout of Yomar Alamo. Love’s hometown headliner was disastrous, as he was dropped and later disqualified in the fifth round of his battle with Australia’s Steve Spark.
Hitchins went out to soundly outpoint unbeaten John Bauza over ten rounds on February 4 in New York City before revisiting plans to face Love. The two were due to meet on a July 15 DAZN show headlined by Alycia Baumgardner’s revenge-fueled win over Christina Linardatou in her Detroit hometown. Hitchins was left without a fight, however, when Love withdrew due to an undisclosed injury.
Plans were in place to reschedule but never resurfaced, which prompted Hitchins to move forward with his promising career.
Zepeda (36-3, 27KOs) remains a top-rated contender whose three career defeats all took place in title fights. He suffered a fluke injury in the second round of a July 2015 WBO lightweight title challenge versus Terry Flanagan.
An eight-fight unbeaten streak followed before a narrow points loss to Jose Ramirez in their February 2019 WBC junior lightweight title fight. Zepeda—a 34-year-old southpaw from La Puente, California—then went on a six-fight unbeaten run (five wins and one No-Contest) before he suffered an eleventh-round knockout loss to Regis Prograis in their vacant WBC 140-pound title fight last November.
Zepeda rebounded with ten-round shutout over Neeraj Goyat on March 25 in Guadalajara. He will train with Manny Robles heading into what he hopes is a career revival versus the talented Hitchins.
McCaskill (12-3, 5KOs) will fight for the first time in 2023 and since her undisputed championship was splintered by the sanctioning bodies. The 38-year-young, Chicago-based welterweight queen was relieved of her IBF and WBO titles after her unsuccessful bid for the undisputed junior welterweight crown in a ten-round defeat to Chantelle Cameron last November in Abu Dhabi.
A chance to regain at least one of her old titles comes courtesy of the ambitious Ryan willing to take on all comers.
The 29-year-old from Derby, England claimed the vacant WBO title in a ten-round points win over previously unbeaten Marie Pier Houle on April 22 in Cardiff, Wales. The win was her third straight, a run which includes a ten-round, unanimous decision over Erica Farias last August to avenge her lone career defeat just five months prior when Ryan first faced the former 140-pound titlist just eight months into her pro career.
McCaskill and Ryan both embraced the idea of a multi-belt unification bout heading into and immediately following Ryan’s win over Houle. The only matter to sort out was a date and location for the championship clash. Its placement on the card confirms a previous breaking news report from International Boxing News.
Boxing Scene has also learned that middleweight contender Austin ‘Ammo’ Williams (14-0, 10KOs) and junior welterweight prospect Orestes Velasquez (7-0, 6KOs) will appear in separate bouts versus yet-to-be-finalized opponents on the DAZN undercard.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox