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Xander Zayas Embraces Positivity, Ready To Empower Next Generation In & Out of The Ring
Before Xander Zayas steps into the ring on June 12, he sits down to talk about his in-ring career, bringing mental health awareness to the forefront of boxing and his always-positive attitude.
One quick look at Xander Zayas’ social media is enough to tell you that the unbeaten, 18-year-old prospect is all smiles even in the confines of a harsh and physically-exhausting training camp.
His infectious positivity has been one of his signature traits and almost a stark contrast to his set of skills, one that has propelled him to an 8-0 record so far and among the short list of candidates for “Prospect Of The Year” as we enter the midway point of 2021.
Zayas, who fights Larry Fryers on June 12 on a Top Rank card in Las Vegas, is coming off a first-round victory over Demarcus Layton back in April. That fight took place in front of an electric Puerto Rican crowd in Kissimmee, Florida, which gave its full support to Zayas, viewed by many as one of the country’s brightest future stars.
The energy he felt from the crowd was something that Zayas missed during the past year fighting in front of no fans in both Florida and Las Vegas. Still, the crowd in Kissimmee, Florida was another reason for him to keep smiling wherever he goes. He views the fans’ support of his as a major reason for his upstart personality as a boxer. Zayas said he simply wants to return the favor to those who watch him accomplish his dreams inside a boxing ring.
“That whole environment [in Kissimmee] was amazing. I missed it a lot so I was glad that it gave us the opportunity and the fans the chance to watch us. I can’t wait to do it all again on Saturday. The fans in Vegas are going to be excited and I’m ready to perform and get the win,” Zayas said. “I’m a happy person. I hate being serious. I don’t like being down, so I always try and smile and do what I can to stay positive. When I go to the ring, it’s all business, I’m laser focused. After I step into the ring and before I step into the ring, I’m still going to be the same Xander smiling and showing everyone some love. The fans have helped me get to where I am so I thank them for that.”
His positive outlook towards life isn’t just for show and he tries to spread that joyful energy back to his community. Back in May, Zayas spent time with children in an effort to bring mental health awareness into the forefront and has previously done anti-bullying videos. Despite his career focus being directly related to the ring, he takes his efforts to bettering future generations very seriously.
He wants to be an inspiration for future generations and the message he wants to send is that hard work and dedication can go a long way into fulfilling your dreams.
“I was working with kids and helping with bringing mental health awareness. It was something I wanted to do, helping the community and helping the future, showing them that we’re here for them and we want them to be better. We want them to accomplish whatever they dream of in line. It means a lot to me and it reminded me that once, I was that kid with big dreams and had a big family supporting me. Now I’m accomplishing my dreams and want to bring that same energy to the new generation, show them that with hard work and dedication and support, you can accomplish anything in life,” Zayas said.
The topic of mental health is one that he holds close to his heart, knowing that there is a lot of misconceptions and an overall stigma surrounding mental health in the eyes of many. Fighters are not immune to going through mental health battles, a fact that people sometimes do not realize and Zayas wants to help end the stigma surrounding mental health.
“Sometimes, I think that some people don’t realize that we’re also human. They think that we’re just machines and we just wake up, train and fight. That’s not who we are. We’re humans and we go through stuff mentally, physically that people don’t even get to know about. The struggles in the gym and outside of the gym are things that boxers keep inside them and go through them day by day. I just wish for every athlete and every fighter and every person who is going through something to talk to someone and let them know that they need help. We don’t want to lose anyone else because of mental issues you have inside of you. That’s just my message. I want everyone to know that they are not alone and we’re here to help. Maybe I’m not the specialist on the topic, but there are people who are willing to help. I’m not a specialist, but I want to get that message across.”
Despite the ever-growing pressures that come with being a highly-regarded prospect with the weight of an entire island on his shoulders, Zayas has taken everything in stride. Zayas, who signed with Top Rank at just 16 years old, has been a firm believer of grinding his way to success, never taking the easy way out or resting on his natural talent.
“I do believe that there are no shortcuts in life and you have to work hard for anything you want in life. Top Rank is giving me that opportunity to showcase my talent and that I have the skills and that’s what I’m doing,” Zayas said.
In regards to his in-ring career, his focus is now on his next test, which is Fryers. Sporting an 11-3 record, Fryers is Zayas’ most experienced opponent to date and his aggressive style is something the Puerto Rican prospect is expecting to face when they step into the ring.
However, preparation is not something that Zayas has been lacking in given the number of notable boxers who’ve trained or sparred with him. In the past, Zayas has trained alongside the likes of Daniel Jacobs and Robert Easter Jr. For this fight, Zayas worked with multi-time world champion and current welterweight contender Shawn Porter.
Between impressive outings this year (2-0 with a first-round knockout win in April) and the number of world class fighters he’s been training with and learning from, Zayas believes he is on the path to become “Prospect Of The Year.”
“We know that he is an aggressive fighter and is coming into the fight to win. He’s going to put in work and I know he’s shorter than me and throws a lot of punches. But we worked on everything that we needed to work on during training camp. We had the right sparring partners and come Saturday night, I’m going to show everyone why I’m going to be ‘Prospect Of The Year’ for 2021,” Zayas said.
The full interview can be viewed below. Zayas fights on the June 12 Top Rank on ESPN+ undercard, beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET.