Xander Zayas: "I'm Determined
To Position Myself As A Top Contender!"
(November 30th) Puerto Rican junior middleweight contender Xander Zayas hopes to close the year on an emphatic note.
Zayas will take on Spain's Jorge Fortea in a 10-round battle on Saturday, Dec. 9 at Charles F. Dodge City Center in Pembroke Pines, Florida. Zayas-Fortea will serve as the co-feature to the WBO featherweight world title showdown between reigning champ Robeisy “El Tren” Ramirez and unbeaten Mexican contender Rafael “El Divino” Espinoza.
Ramirez-Espinoza and Zayas-Fortea will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Zanfer Promotions, tickets are on sale now via Ticketmaster.com.
Venue: Charles F. Dodge City Center, Pembroke Pines, Florida, USA
Promoter: Bob Arum - Top Rank
Matchmaker: Brad Goodman
Media: ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN+
Zayas (17-0, 11 KOs) signed with Top Rank at 16 and has been on the path to superstardom ever since his pro debut in October 2019. In his fifth year as a pro, he is already inching closer to a title shot in the competitive 154-pound division. He notched an eight-round unanimous decision over Ronald Cruz during Puerto Rican Day Parade weekend in June and a fifth-round TKO against the hard-hitting Roberto Valenzuela Jr. in September. Fortea (24-3-1, 9 KOs), a 13-year pro from Spain, is riding a three-bout winning streak.
Following a recent training session, this is what Zayas had to say:
"We are counting down the days to fight night! I can't wait for the bell to ring on December 9 in South Florida. I dedicate this fight all my Boricuas from the 'Island of Enchantment' and the 'Puerto Rican Diaspora' who I know will tune in to my fight that night on ESPN."
"I am determined to close the year with a bang and to continue positioning myself as one of the main contenders at junior middleweight. In the new year, I'm aiming to continuing my climb up the ranks step by step. That is why I push myself to give my all every day in the gym. You will see a better version of me every time I fight."
"I am grateful for the support of the fans. I am also very happy to share the card with a great friend whom I respect a lot like "El Tren" from Cuba, Robeisy Ramírez. We are already close to a sold out venue, and we are ready to bring joy to our people. We're coming to put on a great Latin party between Cubans and Puerto Ricans."
"Rafael Espinoza Has My Full Attention!"
(November 21st) Cuban WBO featherweight king Robeisy “El Tren” Ramirez is ready to end the year with his second world title defense.
Ramirez will put his belt on the line against unbeaten Mexican contender Rafael “El Divino” Espinoza on Saturday, Dec. 9 at Charles F. Dodge City Center in Pembroke Pines, Florida.
Ramirez (13-1, 8 KOs), a two-time Olympic gold medalist, is enjoying his most impressive year to date. The fighting pride of Cienfuegos, Cuba, soundly defeated former world champion Isaac Dogboe by unanimous decision to capture the WBO featherweight title in April. He defended his crown on enemy turf in July with a fifth-round TKO against Japanese contender Satoshi Shimizu. Espinoza (21-0, 18 KOs) is a 10-year pro who is coming off stoppage wins over compatriot Rafael Rosas Ramirez in March and Tanzania’s Ally Mwerangi in July.
Following a recent training session, this is what Ramirez had to say:
"December 9 is almost here, and it's almost time to defend my world title against a tough opponent, Rafael 'El Divino' Espinoza. Everyone knows that Mexicans are warriors who always come to fight. That's why Espinoza has my full attention, and the Mexican people have my full respect."
"I can't wait to fight in front of my people in South Florida. After being crowned world champion, this has been one of my most cherished dreams, and it motivates me knowing that the event is close to being sold out. So, don't wait much longer to get your tickets, bring your Cuban flag, and join me in what I promise will be a great night for our community."
"This has been a strong training camp with many challenges, as it usually is at this level. I am motivated to close the year strong and pursue other goals in 2024, such as being crowned unified featherweight champion."
December 9: Heavyweight Prospect Richard Torrez Jr.
To Fight Curtis Harper At Charles F. Dodge City Center
In Pembroke Pines, Florida - Torrez-Harper
Will Stream Live & Exclusively On ESPN+!
(November 14th) The heavyweight division’s fastest-rising prospect looks to close out 2023 in crushing fashion. Richard Torrez Jr., the Olympic silver medalist from Tulare, California, will test himself against the cagey Curtis Harper on Saturday, Dec. 9 at Charles F. Dodge City Center in Pembroke Pines, Florida.
This will be the first scheduled eight-rounder for Torrez, who has ended all seven of his professional outings in three rounds or less.
Torrez-Harper will stream LIVE & exclusively in the U.S. on ESPN+ before the ESPN-televised doubleheader (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT) featuring Robeisy Ramirez’s WBO featherweight world title defense against Rafael “El Divino” Espinoza and undefeated junior middleweight sensation Xander Zayas versus Spain’s Jorge Fortea.
“Curtis Harper is a tough, experienced heavyweight, and I look forward to the challenge,” Torrez said. “He has been in with some of the division’s best fighters, and we felt the time was right to step up and take on someone of his caliber.”
Torrez (7-0, 7 KOs) shined at the Tokyo Olympics in the summer of 2021 and turned pro the following March with a second-round stoppage over Allen Melson in Fresno, California. He went 4-0 in 2022 and opened his second professional year with a second-round knockout over James Bryant in February. An injury kept Torrez out of the ring for six months, but he returned with a first-round stoppage over Willie Jake Jr. in August and a second-round blitzing of Tyrrell Anthony Herndon in October. Harper (14-10, 9 KOs) is a durable veteran who has gone the distance with numerous top prospects and contenders, including Chris Arreola, Brandon Moore, and Guido Vianello.
In the main event, Cuban WBO featherweight king Robeisy “El Tren” Ramirez puts his belt on the line against unbeaten Mexican contender Rafael “El Divino” Espinoza.
In the 10-round junior middleweight co-feature, Puerto Rican sensation Xander Zayas squares off against Spain’s Jorge Fortea.
“We are thrilled to be back in South Florida with a loaded card featuring some incredibly talented fighters,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “Ramirez has his hands full against an undefeated challenger who will not be deterred by the moment, and I know Xander Zayas wants to make a huge statement in front of his humongous South Florida fan base.”
Ramirez (13-1, 8 KOs), a two-time Olympic gold medalist, has been on a dominant trajectory after joining forces with trainer Ismael Salas. The 29-year-old southpaw had a tremendous 2022 in which he stopped Irish veteran Eric Donovan, then-unbeaten Puerto Rican Abraham Nova and Argentine contender Jose Matias Romero. This year has been even better for the fighting pride of Cienfuegos, Cuba, as he soundly defeated former world champion Isaac Dogboe by unanimous decision to capture the WBO featherweight title in April and defended his crown on enemy turf with a fifth-round TKO against Japanese contender Satoshi Shimizu in July.
Ramirez said, “Miami is for many of us Cubans an important meeting point, where Spanish is spoken, our heritage is celebrated, and we remember our homeland daily through the city’s vibrant culture. Ever since I turned professional, I have wanted to fight near my people of Miami, where I also live. That cherished moment has finally arrived. On December 9, at the Charles F. Dodge City Center in Pembroke Pines, I hope to have the support of the Cuban community of Miami and to see our flag waving everywhere.”
Espinoza (21-0, 18 KOs) has dedicated more than a decade to his career in the paid ranks, all leading up to his first opportunity at a world title. He debuted in 2013 and has fought mostly in his native Mexico, save for two early-career bouts in the U.S. A giant in his division at 6’1”, Espinoza will boast a seven-inch height advantage and is coming off a five-fight knockout streak. He tallied stoppage wins over compatriot Rafael Rosas Ramirez in March and Tanzania’s Ally Mwerangi in July.
Espinoza said, "I am happy and grateful for what is happening. The time has come, the opportunity of my life, and I will not waste it. Robeisy is a great champion, and I am glad to face someone like him. I know we will have a great fight, and it will go down in boxing history. I am sure of it.”
Zayas (17-0, 11 KOs) signed with Top Rank at 16 and has been on the path to super stardom ever since his pro debut in October 2019. In 2022, he scored eight-round decision wins over Quincy LaVallais and Alexis Salazar, along with a fifth-round TKO against Elias Espadas. In 2023, he notched a 10-round unanimous decision win over Ronald Cruz during Puerto Rican Day Parade weekend in June and a fifth-round TKO against hard-hitting Roberto Valenzuela Jr. in September. Zayas aims to cement his candidacy for a title shot with his third victory of the year. Fortea (24-3-1, 9 KOs) is a 13-year pro from Spain who coming off a decision win over the previously unbeaten Ismael Flores in April. He is riding a three-bout winning streak and is a former WBC Latino 154-pound belt-holder.
Zayas said, “I am super motivated to close the year with one more fight in which I will be able to continue demonstrating the progress of my skills and maturity as a fighter, which I have achieved thanks to the dedication and all the hard work in the gym. The goal on December 9 is to continue showing that I am prepared for the next step.”
The ESPN+ undercard will showcase some of Top Rank’s best and brightest up-and-coming talents, including: Rising featherweight Bruce “Shu Shu” Carrington (9-0, 5 KOs), the fighting pride of Brownsville, Brooklyn, will take on former world title challenger Jason Sanchez (16-4, 9 KOs). Carrington will attempt to go 5-0 this year in his first scheduled 10-rounder. Sanchez lost a unanimous decision to then-WBO featherweight world champion Oscar Valdez in June 2019.
Junior middleweight, Jahi Tucker (10-1, 5 KOs) looks to bounce back from his first defeat in an eight-rounder against unbeaten Argentinian Francisco Daniel Veron (13-0, 10 KOs). Tucker overcame a tough Nikoloz Sekhniashvili in April, but dropped a decision to Nicklaus Flaz in July.
Dominican Olympian Rohan Polanco (10-0, 6 KOs) will lock horns against Keith Hunter (15-1, 9 KOs) in an eight-round junior welterweight tilt. Polanco returns following his most impressive win to date, a fifth-round destruction of Panamanian contender Cesar Francis in July.
U.S. Olympian Tiger Johnson (10-0, 5 KOs) makes his fourth appearance of 2023 in an eight-round junior welterweight fight against Mexico’s Jimmer Espinosa (15-1, 14 KOs). Johnson is coming off a hard-earned majority decision over Ricardo Quiroz in September.
Undefeated heavyweight prospect Damian “Polish Hussar” Knyba (12-0, 7 KOs), a 6-foot-7 behemoth with an 86-inch reach, takes on Scott Alexander (17-6-2, 9 KOs) in an eight-rounder.
About Charles F. Dodge Center
The Charles F. Dodge City Center has over 45,000 square feet of flexible indoor and outdoor event space and boasts a modern, contemporary design that's as intelligent as it is visually striking. The sleek lines and unique layout of the building will catch your eye, but the real gem is our Great Hall. Spanning over 23,000 square feet, it can accommodate more than 3,200 guests theater-style, 2,100 for concerts, 1,300 classroom-style, 1,120 for banquets, and over 100 exhibits for trade shows. Get ready for unforgettable experiences at the Charles F. Dodge City Center – where state-of-the-art meets community pride!
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