Zepeda vs Hughes Predictions: Mexican should have too much for ‘Maximus’

 | March 15 | 

4 mins read

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Maxi Huges takes on an almighty task this Saturday March 16 as he faces unbeaten William Zepeda in a WBA and IBF lightweight title eliminator. DAZN televises this high-quality 12-rounder as ‘Maximus’ looks to rebuild from a controversial defeat last time out. Here are my Zepeda vs Hughes predictions ahead of a hot Las Vegas night.

Zepeda vs Hughes Tips

  • Zepeda in rounds 10-12 @ 13/5
  • Fight to go the distance - No @ 1/4

Hughes stepped up in class last time out and fell just short. The Yorkshireman came out on the wrong end of a unanimous decision against former unified lightweight champion George Kambosos Jr. Hughes, making his US debut, looked very unlucky to not get the nod against the decorated Australian. Such is the cruelty of boxing, Kambosos now walks into a shot at the vacant IBF lightweight title against the legendary Vasiliy Lomachenko. Hughes’ reward is a fight with a dominant up-and-comer in Zepeda.

The Mexican has looked fearsome across his 29 fights, stacking up 25 knockouts. Long-tipped for stardom, Zepeda had his breakout performance when he dominated former world champion Joseph Diaz over 12 rounds back in 2022. Last year, Zepeda got through two fights in a collective eight rounds, knocking out Jaime Arboleda in two rounds and Mercito Gesta in six. ‘Camaron’ looks every inch a future world king.

While Zepeda has been tipped for the top for a while, Hughes has been written off more times than you can count. His cumbersome 26-6-2 ledger masks a superb fighter who has improved immeasurably over the years. Early career losses included a defeat to Scott Cardle for the Southern Area belt and a brace of British title reverses to Martin J Ward and Sam Bowen. After a 2019 loss to Liam Walsh over 10 rounds, Hughes looked like falling into journeyman status at 19-5-2.

Seven consecutive wins followed against an increasingly-fearsome collection of competitors. Hughes outscored former world title challenger Jono Carroll. He finally clinched the British title that had eluded him, stopping Paul Hyland jr in eight rounds. But even with his career renaissance underway, many thought a fight with Jovanni Straffon was a step too far. 

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‘Impacto’ had looked world class last time out, knocking out Britain’s James Tennyson in one round to capture the vacant IBO lightweight belt. But Hughes boxed the fight of his life at Headingley in 2021, taking the title via unanimous decision. The IBO is considered a step below the four main titles, but nobody could begrudge Hughes his slice of the world title after a superb display in Leeds.

‘Maximus’ simply refused to fall back to earth afterwards. He defended the belt with a decision win over Ryan Walsh, twin brother of former conqueror Liam. Then in his biggest win yet he edged former world champion Kid Galahad via majority decision to retain his title for a second time. A statement win in a main event against a fighter of Galahad’s calibre signalled Hughes’ arrival as a top name on the British scene.

The door opened for a high-profile Stateside mission against Kambosos. Such an occasion will have felt a far way away when Hughes’ record read 19-5-2. But here Maxi was, facing a man who not long ago reigned as the lightweight champion of the world. On another night, in front of different judges, he would have won it too. But alas, many a boxer has been left to rue a callous collection of cards in the cold light of day.

Hughes will be hoping the same doesn’t happen again. To tell you the truth, I don’t see it being a problem here. Perhaps not for the reasons Hughes would hope though. Zepeda looks to have everything one requires to become a truly elite fighter. Hughes’ story of redemption has been wonderful and nobody can take the titles from his mantle or the moments from his mind. But his history of resilience won’t be enough here.

I think Zepeda gets this one done inside the distance, though not without a spirited showing from ‘Maximus’. I’m leaning towards the Mexican by knockout late on. Rounds 10-12 are 13/5 and I’m backing Hughes to last that long. But I feel he will find world level just a step too far once again. Brave and unbowed, but ultimately falling just short.

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

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