Predictions: William Zepeda vs Maxi Hughes

Fighting

William Zepeda and Maxi Hughes square off Saturday night on DAZN from Las Vegas in a 12-round lightweight main event.

Zepeda (29-0, 25 KO) is a clear favorite in the fight, but the veteran Hughes (26-6-2, 5 KO) has been on a good run for the last three-plus years, and some feel should be coming off of a win over George Kambosos Jr in his most recent outing.

Can Hughes pull another upset, or does the rail end at William Zepeda?

Who wins Zepeda vs Hughes?

Scott Christ (6-1)

Zepeda is all wrong for Hughes. I really don’t think there’s even a whole lot more to say, so thankfully there are three other people to say more, and I can put in this half-assed succinct effort on this one.

I just do not see anything Hughes can do with this guy if Zepeda’s as good as I think he is. But I do think Hughes has the craft to hang around; my Criswell vision is a stoppage most people don’t think needed to be one, even though he’s miles out of the fight with no path to victory. Zepeda TKO-10

Wil Esco (5-2)

It’s hard to say anything other than all of the chips appeared to be stacked against Hughes’ favor in this matchup against William Zepeda. However you viewed Hughes fight with George Kambosos, that fight certainly doesn’t give me any confidence in Hughes’ chances to go up against a younger, stronger and more confident Zepeda who’s just been taking care of business.

Hughes has been broken down and stopped before, and I see that as a similar scenario where he’s out of there by the mid-point in the fight. Zepeda TKO-6

John Hansen (6-1)

Other than maybe Tank Davis, William Zepeda is the absolute worst style matchup at 135 pounds for Maxi Hughes. That said, Hughes is a savvy, experienced pro, and we’ve already seen JoJo Diaz navigate a dialed-in Zepeda all the way through to a final bell. It can be done, and the same things that make Hughes highly unlikely to find a path to victory also give him a strong chance to last the distance.

Hughes can’t, and won’t try to, hang in and bang with Zepeda. That means we won’t get a lively fight like Zepeda vs Alvarado, but it also means Hughes shouldn’t get finished early like Mercito Gesta and Jaime Arboleda. With respect and apologies to what JoJo Diaz could do in his early days of 1970s Elvis cosplay, Hughes is arguably the most tactically complete and crafty opponent Zepeda has ever faced. I don’t think Hughes can stop Zepeda, or even hurt him enough to slow him down. I do think Hughes can survive him. Zepeda UD-12

Patrick Stumberg (6-1)

Hughes’ is a feel-good story no matter how you slice it. Left for dead after a couple of rough domestic losses, he just kept scoring upset after upset after upset to work his way onto the world stage. Him getting this opportunity after that screwjob against Kambosos is a rare case of justice and reparation in a sport notorious for leaving its unfortunates in the lurch.

It’s just not going to go well for him.

The thing with Kambosos is that he’s really not that good on the lead. His best skill, the one that meshed so beautifully with Teofimo Lopez’s worst habits, is his ability to punish overextension with flurries. Hughes’ footwork and timing were a perfect counter, but giving Zepeda that kind of slack is just asking for trouble. “El Camaron” isn’t a raw slugger like Jovanni Straffon; he’s got the skills to hunt Hughes down and do serious damage.

This screams “snowball,” with Hughes outmaneuvering Zepeda in the early going before Zepeda’s volume and body attack slow his feet and force him to weather increasingly brutal combos in the pocket. Zepeda’s round-by-round output hits the triple digits around the midway point and ultimately secures the finish near the end. Zepeda TKO-10

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