Xander Zayas will no longer appear on a boxing event that was near and dear to his heart.
A viral infection—not related to Covid-19—leaves the unbeaten Puerto Rican junior middleweight unable to proceed with a scheduled June 11 clash with Uzbekistan's Ravshan Hudaynazarov (19-5, 14KOs). The bout was to serve as the ESPN-televised co-feature from Madison Square Garden's Hulu Theater in New York City on the eve of the annual Puerto Rican Day parade, with the rest of the show to go on without the 19-year-old prospect.
“I am sorry to announce that I was forced to pull out of my fight on June 11," Zayas noted in a statement provided by Top Rank. "I have done my best to get well, however, my condition got worse over the past few days.
As much as I love this sport and wanted to put on a show at Madison Square Garden for the fans, my health comes first."
The rest of the card proceeds as planned, with fellow islander Henry 'Moncho' Lebron (15-0, 10KOs) elevated to the co-feature slot. The 24-year-old lightweight from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico will face Luis 'Popeye' Lebron (18-3-1, 11KOs)—no relation—in an eight-round, all-Boricua regional title fight scheduled for eight rounds.
Headlining the card, unbeaten super middleweight and local box office attraction Edgar Berlanga (19-0, 16KOs) faces former title challenger Alexis Angulo (27-2, 23KOs) in a scheduled 10-round main event.
Zayas (13-0, 9KOs) was especially looking forward to appearing on this card, which would have marked his first on a weekend dedicated to Puerto Rican culture. The annual Puerto Rican Day Parade is normally held in New York City on the second Tuesday of every June but was shut down in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic and lingering state-mandated social distancing measures.
The last P.R. Day parade took place in June 2019. Zayas just signed with Top Rank at 16 years of age at the time and made his pro debut later that October, though always with aspirations of appearing on such a show whose boxing tradition dates back to Miguel Cotto's June 2005 appearance in the main room at MSG.
Zayas—born and raised in San Juan but who now lives in South Florida—has since emerged as one the sport's hottest young prospects. He had the pleasure of making his MSG debut last December, scoring a first-round knockout of Alessio Mastronunzio to cap a 6-0 campaign on the year.
Three months later, Zayas returned to MSG grounds where he soundly outpointed Quincy LaVallais in the ESPN-televised co-feature to Berlanga's points win over Steve Rolls this past March at Hulu Theater. Plans were immediately for the dynamic duo to appear in a similar capacity next weekend, though it will have to come another day.
"My team and I had to make the difficult decision to postpone this fight," admitted Zayas. "I want to thank everyone for all the support and love. I will be back soon.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox