Xander Zayas will face his first former titlist and enjoy his current steady rate of activity.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that the rising junior middleweight will next face former WBO titleholder Patrick Teixeira. The bout will land on a February 16 Top Rank on ESPN card at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York City, which Zayas himself pointed to in expressing his wish list immediately after his latest win.
“February 16 back at home,” Zayas told ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna minutes after his fifth round knockout of Jorge Fortea. “MSG… Patrick Teixeira, you’re next.”
The fight will serve as part of a show topped by the Top Rank debut of O’Shaquie Foster (21-2, 12KOs), who will defend his WBC junior lightweight title versus Abraham Nova (23-1, 16KOs).
Zayas (18-0, 12KOs) enjoyed his first fight in his adopted home region with his win over Spain’s Fortea (24-4-1, 9KOs). The bout took place at Charles F. Dodge City Center in Pembroke Pines, mere minutes from his adopted hometown of Sunrise, Florida. The 21-year-old Boricua has lived in South Florida for more than half his life when he moved with his family from San Juan, Puerto Rico.
However, his true boxing base has been in New York City, where he will now make his fifth pro appearance. His most recent fight in the Boricua-friendly location came this past June, when he earned an eight-round shutout over Ronald Cruz on June 10 at Hulu Theater, on the eve of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade.
Missing from his record thus far are crossroad fights versus former titlists and title challengers.
That now changes, all as he enjoys a two-month ring turnaround and his fourth fight in just eight months.
Brazil’s Teixeira (33-4, 24KOs) has won his last two starts after a rough three-year stretch that saw inactivity due to visa delays, and three straight defeats.
The pinnacle of Teixiera’s career came in a twelve-round, unanimous decision over then-unbeaten Carlos Adames in their November 2019 interim WBO junior middleweight title fight. A seventh-round knockdown was the difference between a majority draw and a well-earned points win for Teixeira, who was upgraded to full titlist just five days later when Jaime Munguia vacated to campaign at middleweight.
His reign lasted fifteen months but without a successful defense. The first wave of the Covid pandemic wiped out his planned April 2020 title defense versus Brian Castano, a fight which was subsequently met with multiple delays before their February 2021 meeting. Castano won by unanimous decision to claim the belt.
Teixeira went another fourteen months without a fight before an intended confidence restorer versus Paul Valenzuela last April 9 In San Antonio, Texas. Teixeira instead suffered a questionable disqualification loss when Valenzuela quit after being struck with a rabbit punch. A ten-round defeat to Magomed Kurbanov last July in Russia was followed by two straight wins and his desire to face anyone at 154- or 160-pounds.
Adames has since emerged as an interim WBC middleweight title holder and will likely receive an upgrade to full title status before his next fight. Teixeira called out Adames among others but was most keen on being the next to test one of the sport’s most promising young talents.
“I want a fight outside Brazil; I have a lot of opponents I would like to face 154,” Teixeira previously told Boxing Scene after his August 27 second-round knockout win over Carlos Rivero in Santo Amaro, Brazil. “The one I most want to face would be Xander Zayas.”
Both fighters now get their wish for a fight that should provide a clear direction for both.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. X (formerly Twitter): @JakeNDaBox