Smith vs Zepeda Predictions: Dalton steps up against a warrior

 | March 22 | 

3 mins read

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Dalton Smith takes on the toughest challenge of his career on Saturday March 23 when he squares off with Jose Zepeda at Utilita Arena Sheffield. The homecoming will be televised on DAZN as Smith looks to take one giant leap towards a world title opportunity. Here are my Smith vs Zepeda predictions as we look forward to a super lightweight showdown in Sheffield.

Smith vs Zepeda Tips

  • Smith on points @ 20/21
  • Fight to go the distance - Yes @ 1/2

Smith has established himself as the premiere 140-pounder at domestic level. While the division is garnished with world class names like Jack Catterall and Josh Taylor, ‘Thunder’ has kept the home fires burning while those two prepare for their frequently-rearranged rematch. The Sheffield man has taken out top domestic competition like Sam Maxwell, Kaisee Benjamin and Sam O’maison during his reigns as British and Commonwealth champion. At 15-0 and with the British scene in thrall to him, now is the time to take on the world.

Zepeda knows all about the world stage. The 34-year-old has challenged for world titles on three occasions and has been mixing with the elite for almost a decade. The American holds wins over the likes of two-weight world champion Jose Pedraza and seasoned ex-title contender Hank Lundy. 

Zepeda’s greatest moment arrived in 2020, when he contested The Ring Magazine Fight of the Year with Ivan Baranchyk. That topsy-turvy tussle with the former world champion saw both men hit the deck four times in an astounding five-round war. Zepeda came out on top, securing the knockout and his place in the history books.

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That almighty affair took its toll on both men. Baranchyk lost in seven rounds to Montana Love the following year and hasn’t entered the prize ring since. Zepeda rode the wave of momentum to two quick wins and a shot at the vacant WBC title against Regis Prograis. He succumbed in the 11th round of that fight and has gone 1-1 since. His last bout was a decision defeat to up-and-comer Richardson Hitchins in which he lost practically every round. 

Zepeda’s shutout loss to a rising star will likely have piqued the interest of Matchroom, who handle both Hitchins and Smith. The 27-year-old is in need of a name with international renown for his record and Zepeda fits the bill. As a piece of match-making, it echoes Catterall’s recent dominance of the great Jorge Linares. A free hit against a fading fighter whose name still carries some cache. 

Of course it would be disrespectful to consider a warrior of Zepeda’s stature a “free hit”. If there’s one thing we’ve learned, as he has bled and sweated for our enthrallment, it is that nothing comes for free against the 34-year-old. But it is true that the spirit that summoned him from the canvas four times against Baranchyk may finally have been quelled. That is certainly what Smith and Matchroom are banking on.

For what it’s worth, I think their timing is spot on. Zepeda has more left than Linares did when he faced Catterall last year, but he remains a faded entity. This should be a relatively safe landing for Smith at world level as he fights a man who has taken champions to the limit. I don’t think Dalton will need the absolute extent of his abilities to get this done, though I feel his opponent will be brave. I can see this one going to a fairly comfortable unanimous nod for Smith, roared on by his irrepressible home crowd. 

Smith on points is 20/21 with Betfred. It takes something truly spectacular to stop Zepeda, with only Prograis managing it in the traditional sense. Britain’s Terry Flanagan retained his WBO belt in 2015 after two rounds with Zepeda, but that was due to the American pulling up injured. Smith will likely need all 12 rounds to get this one done.

You can find all our latest boxing tips and analysis at our Betfred Insights Boxing page

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