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Xander Zayas faces Ronald Cruz on June 10 as Taylor-Lopez co-feature

Xander Zayas victory (Photo by Patrick Corley)
Fighters Network

Junior middleweight prospect Xander Zayas will face Ronald Cruz on June 10, Top Rank announced Wednesday. 

The 10-round bout will take place inside The Hulu Theatre at Madison Square Garden and will precede the main event bout between Ring Magazine junior welterweight champion Josh Taylor and Teofimo Lopez. 

Both fights will air live on ESPN (10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT).

The fight between Zayas and Cruz was scheduled to take place on April 1 on a Top Rank card in Tulsa, Oklahoma, headlined by the WBO world featherweight title fight between Robeisy Ramirez and Isaac Dogboe. The Zayas-Cruz fight was postponed due to Zayas suffering an injury during training camp that forced him to withdraw from the fight. 

The Top Rank card on June 10 is on the eve of the Puerto Rican Day parade, which takes place annually in New York City.

“I cannot wait to fight at Madison Square Garden in front of my people on the eve of the Puerto Rican Day parade. This is a dream come true,” said Zayas. “Ronald Cruz is a tough, durable fighter, and I expect the best of him on June 10.”

Zayas (15-0, 10 knockouts), who is originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico and now resides in Sunrise, Florida, defeated Alexis Salazar by unanimous decision. Less than four months before the win over Salazar, Zayas stopped Elias Espadas in the fifth round.

The 20-year-old was an amateur standout who signed a promotional deal with Top Rank at the age of 16. Zayas would make his pro debut less than a year later at the age of 17. He is managed by Peter Kahn. 

Cruz (18-2-1, 12 KOs), who resides in Los Angeles, has not fought since losing by unanimous decision to Damian Sosa on August 26. In his previous fight in November 2021, Cruz fought to a majority decision draw against Kevin Ottley.

The 31-year-old does have a knockout win over Ravshan Hudaynazarov, who entered the fight unbeaten, in February 2018 and a unanimous decision win over once-beaten Javier Flores-Benejan. Cruz is confident he can pull off the upset win over Zayas.

“I’m beyond excited to be fighting Xander Zayas,” said Cruz. “My whole life I’ve been waiting for this opportunity to test myself against top opposition on the biggest of stages. I look forward to starting a new rivalry, El Salvador against Puerto Rico. June 10, you will have two hungry lions battling it out. I can’t wait.”

The undercard will feature two fights between fighters from Puerto Rico that will stream live on ESPN+.

Henry Lebron (17-0, 10 KOs) will square off against Christian Tapia (15-1, 12 KOs) in a 10-round junior lightweight bout.

Junior welterweight Omar Rosario (10-0, 3 KOs) will face Jan Carlos Rivera (8-1, 6 KOs) in an eight-round bout.

Featherweight prospect Bruce Carrington (7-0, 4 KOs) of nearby Brooklyn and Polish heavyweight Damian Knyba (11-7, KOs), both of whom just fought on Saturday, will fight in separate bouts. 

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]