Maxi Hughes on fight vs. William Zepeda: ‘I’m here because of merit’

Sometimes the quality of a fighter’s performance is more important than the result.

That was the case for 135-contender Maxi Hughes last July in Shawnee, Oklahoma, where the Briton lost a disputed majority decision to former champion George Kambosos Jr.

Hughes’ strong effort earned him another big fight, against rising star William Zepeda on Saturday at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas (DAZN).

The meeting is being billed as an IBF and WBA title eliminator.

“I’m here because of merit,” Hughes said. “The IBF have ordered me and William to fight, so you know, both of us are here on merit, because we are the best next people in mind going forward.”

Hughes (26-6-2, 5 KOs) is a clever, awkward boxer, as he demonstrated against Kambosos. He’s also persistent.

The 34-year-old southpaw has had his ups but also many downs, including a 3-3 record between 2017 and 2019. The last setback in that stretch was a unanimous decision against then-contender Liam Walsh, which seemed to suggest he had reached his peek.

He hadn’t. He won his next seven fights, including a majority decision over former 126-pound beltholder Kid Galahad in 2022.

That earned him the opportunity to face Kambosos, who was fortunate to have his hand raised. One judge scored it a draw (114-114) but the other two had Kambosos winning (a curious 117-111 and 115-113).

Hughes’ former trainer Gary Lockett believes Hughes will have grown as a fighter as a result of the experience against Kambosos.

“A loss doesn’t always finish you,” he told “He’s had quite a few defeats and he’s come out the back end an even better fighter than he’s ever been.

“Look what he did to the guy. OK, he lost the fight, and everyone can pretend – Kambosos’ people and trainers – he didn’t lose the fight but he lost that fight fair and square, and you could see the look on his face at the end.

“You knew that he’d been bamboozled. Maxi certainly goes into the [Zepeda] fight with a lot more confidence. You’ll see a better Maxi Hughes in this fight than you saw against Kambosos.”

That might be necessary for him to have a chance to win.

Zepeda (29-0, 25 KOs) is one of the hottest fighters in the world, a powerful, volume punching machine who overwhelms — and generally stops — his opponents.

The Mexican is around a 9-1 favorite (average of multiple outlets), which is a wide spread.

“You know, William, we’ve watched him, we know what he’s about,” Hughes said. “And we’ve shown him that respect in our preparation. My team down here have put the working day in, day out, and on Saturday night, we’ll get that win and be a step closer to a world title.”

Story originally appeared on Boxing Junkie