Xander Zayas impressively handled an opponent Friday night who had only lost once before he encountered the highly touted prospect.
Jose Luiz Sanchez occasionally exploited Zayas’ defensive flaws, but the hard-hitting, unbeaten Puerto Rican fighter mostly had his way with him. The 19-year-old Zayas won all six rounds according to judges Chris Flores (60-53), Steve Sandoval (60-54) and Roger Woods (60-53) – each of whom scored Zayas an easy winner on the Oscar Valdez-Robson Conceicao undercard at Casino Del Sol’s AVA Amphitheater in Tucson, Arizona.
Zayas, of Davie, Florida, improved to 10-0 and went the distance for the third time since he made his pro debut in October 2019. The 28-year-old Sanchez, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, slipped to 11-2-1 (4 KOs).
Back-to-back right hands up top by Zayas knocked Sanchez off balance barely a minute into the sixth and final round, when Zayas went for the knockout. Sanchez bled from his nose as Zayas continued to batter him later in the sixth round.
Zayas blasted him with a left hook when there was just under a minute to go in their fight.
Zayas’ jarring jab backed up Sanchez about 50 seconds into the fifth round. Just after the midway mark of the fifth round, Zayas unloaded a right-left combination to Sanchez’s body.
Sanchez nailed Zayas with a straight right hand with about 55 seconds to go in the fourth round. Zayas wasn’t as active or accurate in the fourth round as he had been in each of the prior three rounds, particularly the third round.
Zayas viciously assaulted Sanchez during the first two minutes of the third round, though Sanchez occasionally caught him with counter shots. Zayas dropped Sanchez with a quick, counter left hook, but Burke called it a slip with just under 30 seconds to go in the third round because he didn’t see Zayas’ punch land.
Zayas’ right hand wobbled Sanchez 1:25 into the second round. Sanchez connected with a right cross with just over 30 seconds to go in the second round, but Zayas caused swelling around his left eye early in that round.
Zayas let his hands go at an impressive rate throughout the first round and landed the harder punches with more regularity. Sanchez landed a right hand about 1:20 into their bout, but Zayas kept coming forward.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.