Leading 140lbs contender Jose Zepeda continued his rich vein of form with a one-round annihilation of Bronx favourite Josue Vargas at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York, on Saturday night.

Since dropping a contentious majority points decision to then-WBC belt holder Jose Ramirez in February 2019, Zepeda is unbeaten in six fights and shown himself to be one of the most dangerous operators in the super-lightweight division, having decisioned Jose Pedraza and KOed Ivan Baranchyk in a wild, eight-knockdown shootout.

After a skirmish at the weigh-in, Vargas was favoured to win by the oddsmakers, but the reality proved somewhat different. Early in the opening round, southpaw Zepeda (35-2, 27 KOs & 2 NCs) drilled Vargas with a left-hand counter that sent the hometown fighter crashing to the canvas.

Vargas (19-2, 9 KOs) hauled himself upright, but his fight was effectively done. Zepeda tore in to batter the New Yorker on the ropes before Vargas sank to the deck again and referee David Fields waved it off.

“He was the one who wanted to fight me. I just accepted the fight and it showed today that boxing is not a game in there,” said Californian Zepeda afterwards. “There’s levels to this, I told him, and he probably knew I hit hard. I don’t think he recovered after that [first] shot.

“I’m 32 years old and I’m in my prime. I want the WBC world title and all the belts [held by Scotland’s Josh Taylor], to be honest. I’m ready for it. I showed today I’m ready for the WBC world title.”

Beaten but unbowed, Vargas added: “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 okay. I’m good. I’m healthy. We’re not stopping from here. It’s on to the next. I learned from my disqualification loss and now I learned from my second loss.”

Earlier, Filipino Jonas Sultan (18-5, 11 KOs) upset Puerto Rican bantamweight hope Carlos Caraballo (14-1, 14 KOs), 94-93 on all three cards.

Caraballo was dropped in the second, third, sixth and ninth rounds with Sultan down from a glancing shot in the third. “This is boxing. This is war. And I came to win tonight. Caraballo is a tough man, but I wanted this one,” said Sultan

Main image: Mikey Williams/Top Rank.