Boxing: Sanchez loses, draws praise

Furthering the ring career of Xander Zayas wasn’t what Jose Luis Sanchez had in mind, but the Albuquerque boxer certainly accomplished that much.

In Tucson, Arizona, Zayas, a 19-year-old boxing prodigy from Plantation, Florida by way of Puerto Rico, defeated Sanchez by lopsided unanimous decision Friday on a Top Rank, Inc. pro boxing card.

Zayas improved his record to 10-0 with seven knockouts. Sanchez is 11-2-1 with four KOs. The six-round bout was contested at 152 pounds, 2 pounds below the junior-middleweight limit.

The official scorecards read 60-54, 60-53 and 60-53, an accurate representation of the bout round by round. Yet, within the rounds, Sanchez, while out-punched and out-landed by a wide margin, threw and landed enough punches of his own to make the fight worth watching — and providing valuable experience for Zayas on his way to bigger and better things.

This was the second time Zayas had been taken six rounds. But in the first, against James Martin on Feb. 22 of this year, Martin stayed on defense for most of the bout. That wasn’t the case with Sanchez, who never stopped firing back —landing some thudding right hands along the way.

Sanchez appeared to be in trouble in the third and sixth rounds, but each time weathered Zayas’ assault and stayed on his feet.

The scorecards weren’t immediately available, but two of them reflected a two-point round. It’s not clear which round it might have been, but it appeared round three was Zayas’ most dominant.

The third was also the round during which Sanchez went to the canvas after swinging wildly and missing. Referee Rocky Burke, who is from Las Cruces, did not rule it a knockdown.

Later, the espn+ broadcast crew noted that a Zayas punch had landed just before Sanchez tumbled to the canvas.

Several times during the streaming, that espn+ crew had kind words for Sanchez’s toughness and skills.

“That right hand (from Sanchez) is gonna find a home,” former world champion Andre Ward said early in the fifth round. “Xander better be careful…. Sanchez is dangerous until this fight is over.”

FIGHTIN’ WORDS: Early in the streaming of the bout, one member of the broadcast crew explained that Sanchez’s nickname, “Guero,” was Spanish for “war.”

Well, no. “Guerra” is the Spanish word for war, “Guero” (which should have two dots called a dieresis over the “u”) means “light-skinned person.”

On the other hand, the Spanish spoken by referee Burke during the pre-fight instructions seemed impeccable. Burke, his brother Louie (a former boxer and a well-known trainer) and their sister Shelly are Hispanic on their mother’s side.

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