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Home » Josh Taylor vs Teofimo Lopez undercard takes shape for New York

Josh Taylor vs Teofimo Lopez undercard takes shape for New York

Junior middleweight phenom Xander Zayas is set to shine on the eve of Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City.

Zayas will return in a 10-round re-scheduled battle against Ronald “Diablo” Cruz Saturday, June 10 at The Theater at Madison Square Garden. Zayas-Cruz will serve as the co-feature to the junior welterweight showdown between WBO and Ring Magazine champion Josh Taylor and former unified and lineal lightweight king Teofimo Lopez.

Taylor-Lopez and Zayas-Cruz will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

Promoted by Top Rank, tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com.

Zayas (15-0, 10 KOs), from San Juan, Puerto Rico, is on the fast track to super stardom. He signed with Top Rank at 16 and has maintained an unblemished record. He is coming off an impressive 2022 that included eight-round decision wins over Quincy LaVallais and Alexis Salazar, along with a fifth-round TKO against Elias Espadas.

The 20-year-old was originally scheduled to face Cruz in the April 1 co-feature to the Robeisy Ramirez-Isaac Dogboe main event, but a training injury forced him to withdraw. Zayas is ready to settle unfinished business on the eve of the Puerto Rican Day Parade atop an undercard that will feature several of his countrymen.

“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,” Zayas said. “Ronald Cruz is a tough, durable fighter, and I expect the best version of him on June 10.”

Cruz (18-2-1, 12, KOs) is a Los Angeles native who has never been stopped as a pro. After suffering his first loss in 2015, he went 16-0 before drawing against Kevin Ottley in 2021. In his last fight, the eight-year pro went 10 competitive rounds in a unanimous decision loss to Damian Sosa.

“I’m beyond excited to be fighting Xander Zayas,” Cruz said. “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, streaming live and exclusively on ESPN+, features two all-Puerto Rico battles.

Henry “Moncho” Lebron (17-0, 10 KOs) takes on Christian Tapia (15-1, 12 KOs) in a 10-round junior lightweight tilt. Lebron is coming off wide decision wins over Andy Vences and Luis Lebron, while Tapia looks to rebound from a competitive decision defeat to Cleveland standout Thomas Mattice.

Promising prospect Omar Rosario (10-0, 3 KOs) squares off against Jan Carlos Rivera (8-1, 6 KOs) in an eight-round junior welterweight bout. Rivera has won four straight fights since a decision loss inside the MGM Grand Las Vegas Bubble.

The loaded undercard action also features pair of rising stars in eight-rounders, both of whom fought on the Shakur Stevenson-Shuichiro Yoshino bill in Newark, New Jersey. Brooklyn featherweight prodigy Bruce “Shu Shu” Carrington (7-0, 4 KOs), who knocked out Brandon Chambers in the second round, makes his third appearance at The Theater at Madison Square Garden.

Polish heavyweight dynamo Damian Knyba (11-0, 7 KOs), who stopped Curtis Harper in the eighth round, will fight an opponent to be named.