Dalton Smith: I am switched on for 12 rounds against massive puncher Jose Zepeda

Smith faces Zepeda for WBC 'Silver' belt live from Utilita Arena Sheffield in Sheffield, England

British contender Dalton Smith goes up against American former thee-time world title challenger Jose Zepeda live from Utilita Arena Sheffield in Sheffield, England on Saturday, March 23. The pair battles it out for the vacant WBC ‘Silver’ super lightweight belt. Ahead of the event, the fighters hosted the final pre-fight press conference, previewed their bout and went face to face.

Dalton Smith (15-0, 11 KOs) eyes his first win for 2024 following two successful outings last year. Sheffield’s 27-year-old stopped Sam Maxwell in the seventh round last July, following the win by unanimous decision against Billy Allington last February.

“We haven’t looked at Jose as a sliding fighter, he’s only lost at world level, none of those losses have been on the way down,” Dalton Smith said. “That’s why we took this fight and we’ve prepared for the best of Jose. He’s only interested in the biggest fights so his career is on the line in this fight and it’s a step-up for me and the opportunity to propel my career onto the world level.”

“It’s a jump in class but you’ve seen the level that I’ve progressed through, I’ve been ready for that level for probably two fights now, so this is the perfect time for me now to propel myself and chase those bigger things. I’m confident, I’ve had one of the best camps of my career, so the fans are in for a treat in this fight.”

Dalton Smith at the press conference
Dalton Smith at the press conference | Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing

“He’s a massive puncher, but so am I. It’s going to be one hell of a fight. I believe I’ve got the better boxing brain but, in any fight, you go into, you’ve got to be switched on, you cannot switch off as that’s how you lose in boxing, switching off for a second. So, I am switched on for 12 rounds, looking for the biggest performance so far in my career and I can’t wait to show you all.”

“The WBC is one of my favourite belts and one I’ve always looked towards, it’s a big opportunity for me to move my career along and we’re pushing closer to a World title, so I can’t wait.”

‘The styles are going to clash’

Jose Zepeda (37-4, 28 KOs) looks to return to winning ways. The Torrance, California native dropped a unanimous decision against Richardson Hitchins last time out in September 2023. Earlier in his career, the 34-year-old southpaw fought Regis Prograis and Jose Carlos Ramirez for the WBC junior welterweight title and Terry Flanagan for the WBO lightweight belt.

“I am in great shape,” Jose Zepeda said. “I’ve been here before when I fought for the world championship in 2017 against Terry Flanagan. That was a bad experience, but I was happy when they told me about this fight, and thank you to Dalton’s team for the opportunity, I’m glad to take it and all I’m looking for in this fight is the fourth opportunity for a world title. Dalton is a young fighter stepping up because he wants to see if he’s at the top level, and I guess we’re going to have to see on Saturday. There’s no need to talk a lot, everyone that knows my career knows I give it my all inside the ring, so I will do the same on Saturday and I’m happy to be here and enjoying every moment.”

Jose Zepeda at the press conference
Jose Zepeda at the press conference | Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing

“Everyone finds out when they step up a level. I remember when I fought Jose Ramirez, it was the first time that I boxed at the top level and in the first round, as soon as I threw the jab, I knew that I was in there on another level. I think he’s going to find out soon and I give him and his team props for jumping this high and if he believes it, well, we’re going to see on Saturday.”

“At this point in my career, I am only looking for big fights, a world title or another big fight, and if I lose this fight, I won’t get that. So, I have said that if I lose this fight, you might not see me in boxing anymore, but what I haven’t said with all honesty, this is the best camp in my entire career at 34 years old because I want to win and I want that fourth world title opportunity. There’s no need for a lot of talking, I’ve seen one of his fights, the styles are going to clash and it’s going to be an exciting fight.”

Dalton Smith and Jose Zepeda go face to face
Dalton Smith and Jose Zepeda go face to face | Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing

In the co-feature, Sandy Ryan defends her WBO welterweight title against current WBA junior middleweight champion Terri Harper. The all British world championship bout is scheduled for 10 rounds.

Among Smith vs Zepeda undercard bouts, Leeds’ unbeaten Ishmael Davis takes on Darlington’s Troy Williamson at super welterweight. Doncaster’s James Flint meets unbeaten Campbell Hatton of Ashton-under-Lyne in the all-British bout at super lightweight. Nico Leivars of Mansfield, England fights Poland’s Piotr Mirga at super bantamweight.

Parviz Iskenderov
Parviz Iskenderov is a former Muay Thai fighter, sports manager and editor at FIGHTMAG.

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