Terry Flanagan gets the chance to become Britain’s latest world champion when he faces fellow unbeaten fighter Jose Zepeda at the Velodrome in Manchester, England.
The vacant WBO lightweight title will be on the line in the main event of a card that also includes the return of Paul Butler, who will be back in action for the first time since losing to Zolani Tete in March.
Also on the bill, Liam Walsh will be looking to protect his unbeaten record when he takes on Brazilian Isaias Santos Sampaio.
When: Saturday, July 11, 10 p.m. BST
Where: Velodrome, Manchester, England
TV: BoxNation (UK)
Live Stream: BoxNation (UK, regional restrictions apply)
Terry Flanagan (left) and Ricky Hatton are both Manchester City supporters
Flanagan—who has a 27-0 (10 KOs) record—has won the British and European titles at lightweight, but this next fight is a step up to a new level.
He is hoping to follow in some famous footsteps when he goes up against the heavy-handed Zepeda.
The 26-year-old is aiming to match the efforts of another Mancunian boxer, Ricky Hatton, in becoming a world champion—and the Hitmansees a few similarities in the duo, per David Anderson of the Mirror:
“I see a bit of myself in him. He’s a Manchester lad, no airs and graces. He’s a big Manchester City fan, too.
We’re very proud of where we come from, Mancunians, as I’m sure everyone is from all over the country.
He’s just a local lad done well, no different to me. If he wins the world title, he’s one of those people who won’t let it go to his head.”
Hatton was crowned in his home city back in 2005, beating Kostya Tszyu to claim the IBF light welterweight belt.
Flanagan will want the Manchester crowd to roar him to victory, too.
He is ranked by BoxRec as the top lightweight in the United Kingdom, and has the chance to show just why he’s above Anthony Crolla, Kevin Mitchell, Ricky Burns and Derry Mathews in the standings.
Zepeda‘s record shows he is a fighter that doesn’t like to hang around for too long in the ring.
The Californian—nicknamed Chon—has won 20 of his 23 fights by knockout, with eight of his last nine victories coming inside three rounds.
However, the 26-year-old has never been beyond eight rounds as a pro. While they are the same age, Flanagan has boxed twice as many rounds (130 v 64) as his next opponent.
Zepeda, though, told BoxNation that his trainer, Robert Alcazar—who used to work with Oscar De La Hoya—has prepared him to go the full 12 rounds, if necessary:
“Since starting together in four rounds fights, Robert really knows his game, he’s been in the big league and we’re always ready for twelve rounds. Knockout or distance we’re prepared to win the fight.
Robert and I have been together for five years and we’ve got a good relationship. He’s showing me a lot and he’s been in with the big league, not just with Oscar, but with Edwin Valero and many more.
We started together and now five years on we’re unbeaten. He made me the fighter I am now.”
Alcazar‘s knowledge and experience could be crucial for Zepeda, who is dropping down from 140 pounds for the fight in England.
This is an intriguing bout—Flanagan has a better pedigree, but Zepeda has demonstrated the power he possesses.
The key to the outcome could be home advantage, particularly as Zepeda has never fought outside of Mexico or the United States before.
The crowd at the Velodrome can make a real difference in the outcome and, if he can avoid being dropped in the early stages, Flanagan can take the title in the closing rounds.