As a lot promise as Xander Zayas has proven whereas profitable his previous few fights, the 20-year-old junior middleweight prospect has tried to stay as affected person as doable.

Zayas realizes that essentially the most skilled matchmaking and promotional group in boxing is guiding his profession at an acceptable tempo, ready to see exactly what they’re on the lookout for to step him as much as the extent he feels he’ll attain in 2023. The Dawn, Florida native’s approaching project is to show he can neutralize Alexis Salazar’s motion in an eight-round encounter ESPN will televise as a part of the Teofimo Lopez-Sandor Martin undercard Saturday night time from Madison Sq. Backyard in New York (9 p.m. ET; 6 p.m. PT).

“He’s a veteran of 28 fights,” Zayas informed concerning Salazar. “He’s very tall and lengthy in attain. He has an important nook behind him in Freddie Roach. And he is aware of how you can use the ring. I really feel like that is very, superb for my improvement course of, only for the motion, to see how I can minimize the ring, how I can, you already know, elevate my recreation and be capable to determine issues out in eight rounds.”

The Mexican-born, Southern California-based Salazar (24-4, 9 KOs) has misplaced solely to WBC interim middleweight champion Carlos Adames (22-1, 17 KOs) prior to now 7½ years. Adames grew to become the one opponent to knock out Salazar in his nine-year professional profession when the Dominican boxer stopped Salazar within the third spherical of their June 2021 bout at State Farm Area in Atlanta.

Zayas (14-0, 10 KOs) needs to carry out impressively Saturday night time in order that the proud Puerto Rican’s handlers consider he’s prepared for the kind of upcoming yr he needs.

“I have already got my objectives arrange for 2023,” Zayas stated, “however I wanna focus first on December tenth, get previous this man after which, you already know, begin preparing for 2023. However one thing that I may say is that I needs to be within the prime three by the tip of subsequent yr and at first of 2024 simply get that world title.”

Fourteen fights into his skilled profession, Zayas is ranked ninth by the WBA and tenth by the WBO within the 154-pound division.

In his final battle, Zayas grew to become the primary fighter to knock out Mexican veteran Elias Espadas. Zayas dropped Espadas (22-5, 15 KOs, 1 NC) within the first spherical and stopped him within the fifth spherical of a battle ESPN broadcast August 13 as a part of the Lopez-Pedro Campa undercard from Resorts World Las Vegas.

“My final battle, I sort of went fireplace for fireplace,” Zayas stated. “I simply needed to alternate as a result of I felt snug within the there. However, you already know, after [the fight] we realized I may’ve made my night time rather a lot simpler. So, this battle we’ve been engaged on being extra affected person, extra slick with my protection and having the ability to throw, defend and counter. I really feel like that’s gonna the important thing on this battle, and clearly with this fighter, having the ability to minimize the ring.”

Keith Idec is a senior author/columnist for He could be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.

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