Jose Zepeda emerged as a future challenger for Josh Taylor with an emphatic first-round knockout against Josue Vargas on Saturday night in New York.
Zepeda retained his WBC silver super-lightweight title and his No 3 ranking with the governing body to strengthen his case to fight Britain’s undisputed champion, who must first deal with Jack Catterall on his Scotland homecoming on February 26, live on Sky Sports.
Zepeda flattened Vargas with a huge overhand left inside the first round.
Vargas wobbled as he rose, and never looked sturdy on his feet – Zepeda closed in and battered him into the corner, where the referee quickly ended the fight.
The New York crowd were dramatically hushed into stunned silence as home favourite Vargas, a Puerto Rican based in the Bronx, was beaten so quickly.
Zepeda and Vargas’ weigh-in 24 hours earlier had erupted into a spikey confrontation with punches thrown but their fight was a one-sided domination.
California’s Zepeda made clear his desire to face Taylor: “Yes, 100 percent. I already fought his last opponent Jose Ramirez. It would be a good fight but I’m ready for that.
“I’m 32 and in my prime, I want the WBC title.
“I want all the belts. I’m ready for it. I showed that.”
Vargas said: “He caught me with a good left hand, and I tried to recover, but I think I got up too fast. That’s what happened. Overall, I’m OK. I’m good. I’m healthy. We’re not stopping from here. It’s on to the next.”
Carlos Caraballo’s undefeated streak was ended by Jonas Sultan in a slugfest featuring five combined knock-downs.
Puerto Rico’s Caraballo was making his New York debut in front of plenty of his countrymen but was floored four times by underdog Sultan, who won a 10-round unanimous decision.
Sultan scored the first knockdown in the second round, then another in the third, but Caraballo repaid the favour before the bell rang with a glancing shot.
Sultan sent Caraballo to the canvas again in the sixth and ninth to score an upset and reduce the crowd to awkward silence.
Sky Sports Boxing schedule
November 6 – Top Rank in Las Vegas
Mikaela Mayer vs Maiva Hamadouche – IBF and WBO super-featherweight titles
November 6 – BOXXER in Liverpool
November 20 – BOXXER in London
Richard Riakporhe vs Olanrewaju Durodola
Caroline Dubois professional debut
November 20 – Top Rank in Las Vegas
Terence Crawford vs Shawn Porter – WBO welterweight title
December 11 – BOXXER
Claressa Shields vs Ema Kozin
December 11 – Top Rank in Las Vegas
Vasiliy Lomachenko vs Richard Commey
December 17 – Top Rank in Montreal
Artur Beterbiev vs Marcus Browne – IBF and WBC light-heavyweight titles
February 26 – Top Rank in Glasgow
Josh Taylor vs Jack Catterall – undisputed super-lightweight title