Super-lightweight contender Jose ‘Chon’ Zepeda continued his march to a third world title shot with an accomplished 10-round decision over spirited late sub Kendo Castaneda at the MGM Grand Conference Center – Grand Ballroom (dubbed ‘The Bubble’) in Las Vegas on Tuesday night. Scores were 98-92 (twice) and 97-93.

Californian southpaw Zepeda lost a narrow majority decision to Jose Ramirez in Frbuary 2019 and previously suffered an unfortunate two-round injury loss to Terry Flanagan in July 2015, but is currently ranked in the top five contenders by the WBC and WBO.

Zepeda (left) is closing in on a third world title shot. Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank.

Texan Castaneda (17-2, 8 KOs) took the fight on a week’s notice following an injury to original opponent Ivan Baranchyk and came to fight, but Zepeda always carried the edge in poise and power.

“He was a late replacement but he was tough in there. I didn’t take Kendo lightly because I knew what he was capable of,” said Zepeda (32-2, 25 KOs). “He had only one loss by decision coming into tonight. Anybody with a belt at 140 pounds is who I want to fight. A championship fight is my goal, and that is what I am working towards.”

Zepeda (right) celebrates another victory with referee Tony Weeks.
Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank.

In the chief support, unsung Mexican Luis Alberto Lopez repelled a late rally to stun super-featherweight contender Andy Vences via split decision. Scores were 96-94 (twice) for Lopez overuling a 96-94 nod for Vences who seemed to have regained control after a rocky spell in the middle rounds.

“I felt I won the fight with my pressure. It was a close fight, but I was confident I did enough after the final bell sounded,” said Lopez (21-2, 11 KOs). “Credit to Vences. I thought he was knocked out earlier in the fight, but he came back like a warrior.”

Vences (left) endured a tougher than expected night with the gritty Lopez (right).
Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank.

Californian Vences (23-2-1, 12 KOs) was badly hurt by a right uppercut in the sixth, but recovered to finish strongly while encumbered by a cut over his left eye after a seventh round headclash. A previous head collision in the fifth had left Lopez cut over the right eye and Vences bleeding from the forehead. 

“I thought I won a close fight, but I am not going to complain about the decision,” said Vences sportingly. “It was a good, close fight. No excuses. I prepared well for 10 hard rounds.”

Vences (right) finished strongly, but two judges weren’t convinced.
Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank.

On the undercard, lightweight hope Andres Cortes (13-0, 7 KOs) shrugged off a fourth-round knockdown to outscore Alejandro Salinas (10-4, 9 KOs) over eight rounds. Scores were 79-73, 77-74 and 76-75. Cortes swept the last three rounds on all cards to secure victory.

Californian bantamweight and pre-school teacher Gabriel Muratalla (4-0, 3 KOs) outpointed Las Vegas’ Sergio Lopez (4-6-3, 0 KOs) by unanimous decision. Scores were 40-36 (twice) and 39-37. Muratalla previously scored a first-round stoppage of Fernando Robles at the Bubble on June 11.

Welterweight Genaro Gamez (10-1, 7 KOs) returned from his first pro defeat with a first-round knockout over Reymond Yanong (11-6-1, 9 KOs).

Lightweight Eric Puente (3-0, 0 KOs) pipped Diego Elizondo (2-2-2, 0 KOs) via majority decision. Scores were 39-37 (twice) and 38-38.