Enjoy seeing Xander Zayas slotted into the co-feature while you can.
Such booking may not last long.
With each and every outing, it’s becoming glaringly more obvious that we’re witnessing the takeoff of a star prospect who’s revving up to reside in superstar orbit.
The 19-year-old rising sensation clashes with Mexican veteran Elias Espadas in the co-main event to Teofimo Lopez vs. Pedro Campa at the Resorts World Las Vegas on Saturday night. The card marks the return of Lopez, the former unified world lightweight champion, who’s making his debut at junior welterweight.
Listen, there’s no doubt that Lopez deserves this headlining spot. After all, he’s the former three-title holder, who earned his crown by defeating Vasiliy Lomachenko, who some believed to be the pound-for-pound best, rather soundly.
That said, the eye test on Zayas’s skills keeps snowballing, as he continues to pick up momentum with each fight until he’s at such a rolling boil that a world championship opportunity must be next.
Last bout, Zayas was slugged in as the co-main eventer against Quincy Lavallais to headliner Edgar Berlanga at Madison Square Garden in New York City this past March. It was only an eight-round fight, but one that Zayas flashed all of his skills, showing excellent punch placement and high efficiency, not to mention power, in getting his hand raised via a dominant unanimous decision.
That followed a scintillating first-round knockout of Alessio Mastronunzio that he produced just three months prior in December — also at Madison Square Garden, which could very well become the Puerto Rican fighter’s home in the near future.
All this being said, Xander Zayas is only 13-0 (9 knockouts) as a professional. He must up his profile in and out of the ring to gain the notoriety needed to main event.
But the Puerto Rican product, who turns 20 next month, has all the skills to not only headline a card soon but also perhaps threaten WBC super flyweight champion Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez’s status as the youngest active world titleholder in the sport of boxing.
Like Rodriguez, 22, does in his division, Zayas has shown the early ability at junior middleweight to place punches exactly where he wants them to land with booming force each and every time. Zayas also already has a penchant for creating multiple-punch combinations that wreak havoc due to their speed and power.
When I interviewed Zayas back in March, he told me that his goal for this year is to have four fights, steadily improve his opposition and wind up fighting 10-rounders to finish at least within the Top 15 at 154-pounds.
If he manages to accomplish that, while generating highlight reel victories along the way, Zayas sees no reason that he can’t contend for a world title shot at junior middleweight by mid or late 2023. The division touts Jermell Charlo as its undisputed ruler and if boxing politics are set aside, perhaps Zayas could get the look he needs to get that opportunity.
And if that does happen fourth quarter next year as Zayas predicted, the rising star will be just 21-years-old and ready to punch his youngest world champion in boxing status into existence.
Until then, sit back — no, more like on the edge of your seats — and watch Zayas develop fight after fight.
This weekend’s fight, like his last bout, has Zayas in the co-feature spot.
But with such skills, Zayas’s days to main event aren’t far behind.