Zayas tortures Fortea to the body, calls out former champion Teixeira

PEMBROKE PINES, FLORIDA: Xander Zayas breezed past Jorge Fortea in the co-main event of Top Rank's show Saturday at the Charles F. Dodge City Center venue just north of Miami.

A former Prospect of the Year, Zayas is on the cusp of a world title shot, or even a big bout against fellow youngster Callum Walsh that could one day headline the big room at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

But despite a promising future, Zayas remained focused throughout the week on Fortea — an opponent with 28 fights to his name heading into the ring — but one who appeared overmatched from the off.

Zayas was simply too good, too skilled, and too powerful.

A fundamentally very-sound performer, Zayas had Fortea writhing on the floor in agony by the end of the very first round because of a grueling left hand that landed flush on the gut.

Zayas fights in a manner that belies his 21 years and possesses numerous signature shots, including a left hook he'd laser onto Fortea's skull with such precision that it thumped the excess sweat off his opponent's brow.

Every big hit he'd land, Zayas would rouse the partisan crowd who couldn't help but scream everything Zayas did, even when simply walking to the ring with the Puerto Rican flag waving behind him.

"Let's go Rico!" The crowd chanted over and over, so confident that their hero would continue to ragdoll Fortea around the squared circle.

Zayas would force Fortea back with jabs to the body — back on that gut that had tortured the Spaniard early in the fight, throw three shots in quick succession as he tried to close the gap when attacking Fortea, and head hunt with right hands over the top, straights to the chin, and three-shot flurries.

Fortea would barely throw back, perhaps perturbed at what had already been thrown his way. Something only fortified in the fifth, as Zayas had him down once again with a bodyshot — and, this time, he refused to get up. It was all over. Zayas had won, sparking jubilation in the crowd that only increased in sound as the star-in-the-making flexed his muscles at each side of the ring.

"I want to thank all the Puerto Rico fans, all the America fans who came out," said Zayas after his win. "It was just a matter of time after we got him down in the first round."

Zayas then confirmed his next fight is against the Brazilian former world champion, Patrick Teixeira, who last held the WBO light middleweight title in 2021, lands in the new year.

“February 16," said Zayas. "Back at home. MSG. Patrick Teixeira. You’re next.”