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Zayas Is A Step Closer

by Ohio Digital News

Xander Zayas knew he was opposing a southpaw and former champion at Madison Square Garden Saturday evening. The task was to defeat Patrick Teixeira, the 38-year old veteran from Brazil and move up the totem pole in a competitive division of (154) super welterweight.

All week in New York City he prepared, though this was making an impression. He would main event the first time on the annual Top Rank Boxing ESPN annual event, an evening before the National Puerto Rican Day Parade.

The San Juan, Puerto Rico native, now residing in Miami, did not disappoint over 5,500 fans, many from Puerto Rico and New York. He was dominant, in control from the beginning, and took care of business with a 10-round unanimous decision. He retained the NABF and NABO Junior Middleweight championships, though more importantly took that extra step.

And for the 21-year old, who will be among the celebrities on Sunday marching along the parade route, that one step is eventually fighting for a championship. When and where remains to be determined but he is close to also being that next boxing superstar from Puerto Rico.

It’s an honor for me, it’s something I never try to put out there, I let the fans do that,” he said about being considered by fans to be the face of Puerto Rican boxing. “They’ll do that but for me I just gotta keep fighting and stay focused.”

He was focused despite saying this was not his best effort. Someone in the small media scrum asked Zayas after the fight how he would rate his performance? B-plus was his answer, no doubt referring to the fact that he wants to do better. Zayas, though, went the 10-round distance for the first time and dominated going 204 of 704, 29 percent in total punches while Teixeria was only able to land 63 of 446.

Bob Arum the longtime Hall of Fame promoter of Top Rank Boxing has always thrived on milking a young and upcoming superstar to the championship ladder. He also has a company that has been successful over the years in promoting Latino fighters to stardom.

Need I mention the names, all inductees to the Boxing Hall of Fame up in Canastota New York, the site again this weekend of the 2024 class that includes two-time champion Ivan Calderon (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico). Known as the “Iron Boy,” Calderon hardly got the accolades because he fought in the miniscule flyweight division.

Arum milked Miguel Cotto, the first and only four-division champion from Puerto Rico who sold out Madison Square Garden in New York City numerous times. Cotto was a mainstay and headline fighter who defended his championships during the annual eve of the Puerto Rican National Parade.

And not to forget Arum and his time with Felix Trinidad (Fajardo, Puerto Rico) the exciting puncher who held multiple world championships in three weight classes, considered one of the greatest Puerto Rican fighters of all-time.

If there was no Bob Arum, then Oscar De La Hoya, Hall of Famer and promoter of Golden Boy Promotions, would not have climbed the totem pole and won 11 world titles in six weight classes. But Zayas does not want to be compared to those legends, many he grew up admiring when putting the boxing gloves on for the first time at the age of five.

Arum tried to develop the next De La Hoya, Trinidad, or Cotto with the rising young star Felix Verdejo, but bad influences and other demons stopped a great career. Verdejo, who is implicated for a murder in Puerto Rico and is no longer associated with Top Rank, is not a name to be remembered in the sport.

Zayas, (19-0, 12 KOs) was in familiar territory, also with an amateur career of more than 130 bouts, winning eleven national championship tournaments including the 2018 U.S. Youth National Championships. He had fought at the Garden four previous times including last June, then also prior to the Sunday afternoon parade.

Arum is milking his young and rising superstar. It has taken time and not a bad thing in boxing to develop the skills. Meeting quality opponents, Teixeira was that added step to go forward and Zayas easily passed the test. Perhaps, as soon as a year from now, Zayas will headline as the main event but in the Garden main arena, a place that Trinidad and Cotto called home.

Zayas wants that and soon his fans will get that opportunity. But for now, it’s marching in the parade and going home for needed rest and looking at that next opponent.

Zayas is in that category, being milked and to be reckoned with in a 154-pound division The division with a Latino contingent in the top ten including Brain Mendoza, Jesus Ramos Jr., Erickson Lubin, undefeated Vergil Ortiz Jr., and champion Sebastian Fundora who dethroned the previously undefeated Tim Tszyu for the titles in late March.

Teixera was known to punch with the power and reach with a 73/53 percent knockout ratio, however, Zayas with that knockout ability also won his last three contests via the TKO or KO route.

He was tough, he knew how to survive in there,” Zayas commented about his opponent. “It was sometimes difficult to find the body, but with the experience, he had it. I tried to land the hook, and he was ducking underneath. I felt like it was a tough test, but I passed it with flying colors.”

This is what Bob Arum envisioned when he signed Zayas at the age of 16, a prospect and inevitable champion in the category of Trinidad and Cotto, two boxing icons who remain heroic figures in Puerto Rico and world wide.

The quest continued Saturday for this young superstar.

Rich Mancuso: X (Formerly Twitter) @Ring786 Facebool.com/Rich Mancuso

Tune in with the latest boxing, MMA, and pro wrestling news as Rich hosts” Keep It in The Ring” live on YouTube with Keep It In The Ring. Subscribe to his channel.

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