As Top Rank aims to return to “The Bubble” in Las Vegas later this month, a trio of Boricua prospects under its banner will find ring action in a location closer to home.
Unbeaten rising blue-chip talents Henry Lebron, Orlando Gonzalez and Xander Zayas will all appear on separate editions of Boxeo Telemundo, Top Rank revealed on Tuesday which confirmed a previous tweet from Saturday Night Boxing's Adam Abramowitz. Lebron will fight August 21, followed one week later by Gonzalez on August 28 and then—as previously reported by BoxingScene.com—Zayas performing on the September 4 summer season finale.
All three shows—along with the August 14 summer season premiere—will air live from a crowdless Osceola Heritage Park (OHP) in Kissimmee, Florida.
For Lebron and Gonzalez, it will be a different environment from the rabid crowds in front of which they have grown accustomed to fighting. Both appeared on the February 28 edition of Boxeo Telemundo in this very venue in front of a sold-out crowd in the heavily Puerto Rican-populated region of Central Florida.
“Ideally, we’d have all three of them fighting in front of crowds and helping continue to grow their fan base down here,” Felix ‘Tutico’ Zabala Jr., the series’ primary content provider through his All Star Boxing Inc. company told BoxingScene.com. “That said, we are thrilled to continue our strong relationship with Top Rank in assisting with these young prospects develop into future champions.”
Lebron (12-0, 9KOs) and Zayas (4-0, 3KOs) have both been out of the ring since late February.
Lebron’s last appearance came at OHP on the aforementioned February 28 Telemundo card, scoring an eight-round unanimous decision win over Recky Dulay. The junior lightweight southpaw from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico—who turns 23 in September—has fought in Boricua-friendly areas for the entirety of his pro career. All but one bout has taken place either in Central Florida or his native P.R.—the lone exception coming in his second pro bout in May 2017, which took place at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Zayas’s undercard appearance on the September 4 show will mark his first bout since a 3rd round knockout of Marklin Bailey this past February. The event took place in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico, less than 30 minutes from San Juan where he was born and lived until he was 11 years old until relocating to South Florida.
The forthcoming appearance in Kissimmee—against an opponent to be named—represents Zayas’ debut in his adopted home state, coming mere hours before his 18th birthday.
Gonzalez (15-0, 10KOs)—who also hails from Aguadilla—has been by far the most active of the three, with his August 28 undercard appearance marking his third fight in a pandemic-stricken 2020. The rising featherweight southpaw—who turns 25 on August 20—began the year with his placement on the February 28 card in this venue, followed by an eight-round decision win over Luis Porozo this past June, live on ESPN from MGM Grand Conference Center (“The Bubble”) in Las Vegas.
The win by Gonzalez—who scored two knockdowns in the bout—paid off for an enthusiastic gambler. A wager of $192,001.30 was placed at BetMGM Luxor in Las Vegas on the young prospect, producing a profited return of $14,763.33.
It also marked the Vegas debut for Gonzalez, who like Lebron has largely rotated between P.R. and Central Florida throughout his four-year pro career. The August 28 date will mark Gonzalez’s fourth in Kissimmee (along with his second pro bout taking place on a Telemundo undercard in Tampa). Lebron makes his sixth career regional appearance.
Zayas fights for the first time in the region and on the circuit, though likely with several more to come for all three as they rise through the ranks.
“Henry, Orlando & Xander are just further examples of young Boricua prospects who we all believe will get to their next respective levels because of their work ethic, their teams, and their willingness to sacrifice now for the bigger goal,” Carl Moretti, VP of operations for Top Rank told BoxingScene.com. “Fighting on our long-time friend & partner Felix ‘Tutico’ Zabala’s shows, even in these difficult times, only enhances those goals.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox