THE RESULT: Xander Zayas delivered a shut-out win against former 154lbs world champion Patrick Teixeira at the Madison Square Garden Theatre in New York. A Puerto Rican carnival atmosphere played its part in ensuring Zayas’s dream of headlining the venue was a memorable one. And the 21-year-old’s dominance in the fight was reflected on the three scorecards (100-90 twice, 99-91).


KEY MOMENTS: The undefeated super-welterweight landed a thudding uppercut in the opening round to signal his intentions. In the fifth, Zayas proved he’s committed to hitting whatever is open to him by thumping the shoulders of his Brazilian opponent in a bid to break him down. Cheered on by partisan support on the eve of the Puerto Rican day parade, Zayas chipped away and, in the eighth, threw a bombardment of shots that Texieira did well to survive for the final six minutes.


RECORDS: Zayas extended his unbeaten record to 19-0 (12 KOs), while Teixeira’s fifth defeat takes him to 34-5 (25 KOs).


TALKING POINTS: The wonderful Puerto Rican fanbase has been crying out for another national hero to join their rich boxing history. It’s still early days for Zayas, but if he can navigate through a deep 154lb division and emerge as a world champion, then he could lead from the front with Subriel Matias and maybe even Edgar Berlanga alongside him.


QUOTABLE: Afterwards, Zayas paid tribute to his opponent who recently suffered a family bereavement. “A couple weeks ago we learned that Patrick’s mother passed away and like a warrior he was here and put on a show so I want to give a round of applause to Patrick Teixeira.”

“He was tough. Being a veteran he knew how to survive in there,” Zayas said. “I feel like it was a tough test but I passed it with flying colours.

“It’s like everybody at Top Rank tells me, ‘Before you go 12 you gotta go 10.’ I did it today and I graduated against a former world champion. That was the rounds that I needed.”


WHAT’S NEXT: Zayas will likely retain his top-five ranking with the WBO and perhaps move up a spot. Speaking to ESPN, he called for fights against fellow top-five WBO contenders Erickson Lubin (4) and Josh Kelly (3) as well as his new stablemate and friend Vito Mielnicki Jr. A step up in class could be next for the Florida-based Puerto Rican, who is slowly but surely making his way into the deep end of the super-welterweight division.