Zepeda outpoints Castaneda over 10 rounds

ESPN

Jose Zepeda and Luis Alberto Lopez were the winners in tonight’s top two fights on ESPN.

Junior welterweight contender Jose Zepeda may not have had his most impressive performance in tonight’s ESPN main event, but he got a solid and clear victory over late notice opponent Kendo Castaneda in a 10-round catchweight bout, fought at 144 pounds.

Zepeda (32-2, 25 KO) won on scores of 97-93, 98-92, and 98-92. Bad Left Hook also scored the fight 97-93 for the 31-year-old from California, who maintains his position as a player at 140 with the victory.

Castaneda (17-2, 8 KO) has now lost two straight, including a decision loss to Yomar Alamo on Feb. 28 of this year, but in both fights has looked solid and competent, not someone you can bowl over easily. If anything, tonight’s fight might enhance what people think of Alamo’s prospects at 140.

Castaneda, 26, did have some success in spots here, and Zepeda had another of his inconsistent sort of performances where his gas tank didn’t seem great and he kind of gave some rounds away, and cruised a bit more than you might like to see. He’s a good fighter and deserved the win tonight, and we’ve seen him do really well against guys like Jose Pedraza, whom he beat, and Jose Ramirez, against whom he came up just short in a world title challenge.

Zepeda himself expressed no big concerns with his performance this evening.

“I think it was good. You never know when a new opponent comes in and nobody knows a lot about him,” he told Bernardo Osuna. “He just has one loss and he didn’t get knocked out. Since he hasn’t been on the big stages, nobody knows nothing about him, but today I noticed he can get hit, he can take some punches. It was a good performance. I can do better. When the level goes up, I go up, too.”

Asked about his future targets, he didn’t specifically name them by name, but Zepeda obviously wants to get in with Ramirez again, and with Josh Taylor, another Top Rank stablemate. Ramirez and Taylor hold two belts each of the four recognized titles.

“I have four names in mind: the WBC, the WBO, the IBF, and the WBA,” Zepeda said. “Those are the four ones I want. We’re gonna work harder and harder to get it.”

Luis Lopez SD-10 Andy Vences

A minor upset, maybe, but also not really. I want to say up top here I scored this 97-93 Vences, which would make you think on the surface I had a strong feeling that Vences won. Andre Ward on ESPN had the same score. But I’m not upset about this and don’t consider it particularly controversial as an outcome. I noted in the live thread that Lopez’s awkwardness and just plain weirdness is maybe not fully appreciated by me in terms of scoring his fights. When he fought Ruben Villa last year on ShoBox, I think I had him losing all 10 rounds, but judges had it notably more competitive, and I think they might have been right. I think they might have been right tonight, too.

Lopez (21-2, 11 KO) is a genuinely strange fighter to watch. He lunges all over, his footwork makes no sense, he rolls with punches sometimes but not always — there’s really not much of anything he does “right” in a textbook way. And that makes him difficult for opponents because you simply don’t see anyone who fights the way he does. You can’t spar and prepare for this guy, really.

Lopez notably hurt Vences in the sixth round, and bad, but Lopez did dig in to not only survive that round but come back strong down the stretch. The two clashed heads — again, Lopez lunges a lot — in the fifth round, which resulted in a cut on the right eye of Lopez, and again in the seventh, opening up an ugly cut on Vences’ left eye that never really got any better. Vences also bad a badly swollen left jaw by the end of the fight, and Lopez out-landed him overall, but not by much (170-162), and Vences landed a bit better connect rate. A lot of Lopez’s numbers were also beefed up by that huge sixth round, when he landed 29 punches, 28 of them power shots.

Lopez won because judge Eric Cheek gave him the last three rounds which I don’t agree with but isn’t really that insane, I guess? As far as the CompuBox numbers go, they were all close.

“I thought I edged the fight,” Vences said. “But I’m very proud of myself with the fact that whatever they told me to do after I got hurt, I felt I did that. I got out of the hole I was in and I thought I edged it. I don’t feel a round dictates the end result. But I was happy I was able to do what my corner said, when they wanted me to.”

Vences was remarkably upbeat considering he took the L and was also visually beaten up in the face.

“I’m not gonna blame no one. I got caught in moments, but it happens in boxing,” he said. “I was just glad I was able to listen in the second half of the fight. I felt he was just coasting in the second half.”

Lopez, 26, will get some more work at 126/130, and he doesn’t make anything easy. Really higher-level fighters will probably overwhelm him, but at this second-tier sort of level, or testing good prospects, he is a real handful.

The 29-year-old Vences has now lost two of his last three and looks like he’s probably hit his ceiling, but he a good argument tonight, and he’s a solid fighter. You have to love the guy’s attitude, too. He’ll be back, he’ll keep trying. And this was an entertaining fight, though not in many of the normal ways you’d think of that description.

Andres Cortes UD-8 Alejandro Salinas

A really entertaining fight. Cortes (13-0, 7 KO) is a junior lightweight prospect who came up with Mayweather Promotions previously, and wanted to impress here. Mostly, I think he did, earning a win on scores of 76-75, 77-74, and 79-73, but it wasn’t all easy for him.

The 23-year-old Cortes, who notably beat Teofimo Lopez twice in the amateurs, was dropped in the fourth round by Salinas (10-4, 9 KO), who came to bang and got to Cortes in spots, but Cortes was the better boxer when he could keep the fight in the middle of the ring, which he did enough, though he got backed to the ropes more often than you might like to see.

Salinas led with his head a lot, causing a cut on Cortes’ left eyebrow in the second round on an “accidental” clash of heads, worsening it in the seventh round with another head clash. Referee Celestino Ruiz did nothing about it, not even a warning, despite fielding some passionate complains from Cortes’ corner and some in the ring from Cortes himself, and despite it being pretty obvious that Salinas was purposely leading with his head.

Gabriel Muratalla UD-4 Sergio Lopez

 Mikey Williams/Top Rank

Muratalla, 26-year-old bantamweight and preschool teacher, had just fought in THE BUBBLE! on June 11, stopping Fernando Robles in the first round. He got back out quickly with this one, and he got a little test from Lopez (4-6-3, 0 KO), a 29-year-old who is battle-tested at this level and came to fight. But Muratalla (4-0, 3 KO) adjusted well to Lopez after the first round, picking up the pace himself and basically daring Lopez to keep up, which Lopez couldn’t quite do. Scores were 39-37, 40-36, and 40-36, all fair.

Muratalla could be back soon enough, really, he didnt’ take a ton of punishment here or anything. Give him a few weeks, we might see him again. He’s no blue chipper or anything — the age is a bit high with only four pro fights and no huge amateur background — but he’s got a lot of spirit and isn’t afraid at all to let his hands go. Maybe he’ll work out to be a real prospect, maybe he’s just a Bubble Sensation, but he’s earning the chance for us to all find out.

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