LAS VEGAS – Xander Zayas made a splash in his Bubble debut.
The Puerto Rico-bred, Florida-based prospect impressed in a six-round unanimous decision over James Martin in their ESPN+ televised preliminary Saturday evening at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Judges Tim Cheatham, Cory Santos and Steve Weisfeld all scored the bout 60-54 for Zayas, one of the few Top Rank fighters to enioy an active 2020 campaign without actually fighting in the MGM bubble.
“It was an amazing experience to get those six rounds in,” Zayas told BoxingScene.com. “Overall, it was a good performance. I listened to my corner and did everything asked of me.”
The 18-year old prospect managed four fights on the year, two before the pandemic and two more in his home state of Florida later in the year. Saturday’s bout with Philadelphia’s Martin (marked his first in Vegas since Nov. 2019.
The return to boxing’s fight capital saw a vastly improved version of Zayas, to be expected with five more fights under his belt. It was also the product of working extensively with former champs Adrien Broner and Robert Easter Jr. through the duration of their respective training camps at Zayas’ gym in Davie, Florida.
Zayas worked Martin’s body, connecting with punishing left hooks downstairs and following up with right hands. Martin was effective when doubling up with the jab, though often pawing with the stick at times and unable to set up any sustained offensive attack. Zayas remembered to play defense on the occasions Martin let his hands go, easily slipping combinations and responding with jabs and right hands both upstairs and to the body.
Martin attempted to pick up the pace in the later rounds, sensing that Zayas was slowing down. It merely opened up for a counter attack from Zayas, who landed in combination near the end of the round five. Martin found his groove in the 6th and final round, landing with right hands and occasional left hooks, while Zayas scored with uppercuts on the inside.
The bout marked just the second time Zayas has been extended the distance as a pro, as he improves to 7-0 (5KOs). Martin falls to 6-2 (1KO), snapping a two-fight win streak.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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