Florida's Xander Zayas celebrated Puerto Rican Day Parade weekend with a victory in an eight-round fight Saturday night on the undercard of Taylor vs. Lopez at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. Zayas, age 20, got the eight-round unanimous decision against a rugged and willing Ronald Cruz. The scores were 80-71 times three.
Zayas, now 16-0, scored a knockdown in the first. Fans wondered if it would be a quick outing for the young Top Rank prospect. Cruz collected himself quickly. In round two, Zayas loaded up with the right, he was seeking a stop.
In the third round, Zayas came out aggressively. The jab pumped. Then Cruz found a home for his right. He’d been patient, too patient, letting Zayas dictate terms. Like the underneath work.
Then Cruz (18-3-1) slung a left hook that told the crowd he was not there just to catch.
In round four, Zayas stayed busy. And Cruz, too picked his spots. In the fifth, Cruz grinned, and got busier. He’d been saving energy, I think. No doubt, Cruz started throwing more, end edging Zayas back.
Zayas Picks Up The Pace
In the sixth, Zayas got busier; his corner might have noted that Cruz was perkier. The crowd was in a lull. Zayas took back the pace in that one.
In the seventh, Zayas landed two clean shots that got the crowd buzzed. Referee Steve Willis looked hard at Cruz, who got hit cleaner in that round than any prior. In the eighth round, Zayas worked hard to close the show, he didn't cruise to the UD. Cruz stayed tough to the end.