Xander Zayas outclassed 28-year-old Quincy LaVallais (12-3-1, 7 KOs), of Metairie, Louisiana 80-71 and 80-72 (X2) on Saturday night at the Madison Square Garden Theater in Manhattan, and that main point is what we on the outside should be paying attention to.
Nothing in boxing is guaranteed. Nothing. Still, Zayas passes the eye test for a prospect.
At only 19 years old, the junior middleweight delivered in the co-feature to Edgar Berlanga vs Steve Rolls live from Hulu Theater on a Top Rank card which screened on ESPN's platforms.
“I need this type of experience,” Zayas said after. “Eight rounds against a tough opponent will only help me as I move forward in my career. The plan is to come back June 11 at The Garden on Puerto Rican Parade Weekend. That’s a special weekend for Puerto Ricans, and I am proud to represent my people.”
When it comes to prospects, it doesn’t get more prime than Zayas. At 16-years-old, he was the youngest fighter to ever sign a contract with the promotional company. Bob Arum and Top Rank Promotions gambled on the young Floridian transplant, and we’re seeing exactly why.
After fighting six times in less than 10 months last year, he’s planning to use 2022 as a springboard platform to land a world title shot in 2023.
“In the not-so-distant future, MSG will be my second home, just like it was for Miguel Cotto and Felix Trinidad,” the young man said. “I want to fill MSG up and bring a lot of glory to my people from Puerto Rico and New York. I want to give my fans a great show.”
Inside of one of boxing's most historic venues, Zayas landed 216 power shots of 386 thrown in eight rounds of work. Round after round, he was tactical, placing punches in anticipation of where LaVallais might be headed.
In boxing it’s grossly underrated for a fighter to come back to his stool, get instructions, and make adjustments in the trenches. As far as adjustments are concerned, Zayas had to make a few major ones. He was without the benefit of his lead trainer Javiel Centeno who was forced to spend time in the hospital Friday into Saturday due to a painful episode with sciatica in his back. Centeno did make it to the apron in a wheelchair for the duration of the fight.
Zayas acknowledged his coach’s resiliency. “I want to dedicate this fight to my trainer, Javiel Centeno. He showed his love and commitment after what he went through yesterday.”
The native of Puerto Rico is an old soul. He speaks with maturity, like a man who has been in the business for at least a decade. At this early stage of his career, he seems to be astutely aware of who he is and where things need to progress.
Gone are his signature zig-zag cornrows. Zayas walked into the ring sporting a new fade, cutting his hair off in tribute to a family friend battle cancer. The win put Zayas at (13-0, 9 KOs) on even firmer footing regarding his pro career. And yes, one can't help but notice the difference in the chatter among fight fans who saw how fellow possible special prospect Edgar Berlanga, age 24, performed in the main event, and how the not close to being able to buy beer Zayas performed.