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Xander Zayas fired up for headlining debut against Patrick Teixeira

Junior middleweight sensation Xander Zayas (18-0, 12 KOs) is gearing up to kick off Puerto Rican Day Parade weekend by making his headlining debut.

Zayas takes on Brazilian former world champion Patrick Teixeira (34-4, 25 KOs) in the 10-round main event this Saturday, June 8, at The Theater at Madison Square Garden.

In the 10-round featherweight co-feature, Bruce ‘Shu Shu’ Carrington (11-0, 7 KOs) will face Panamanian power puncher Brayan ‘La Roca’ De Gracia (29-3-1, 25 KOs), a last-minute replacement for Jose Enrique Vivas, who withdrew from the fight due to visa issues.

Zayas-Teixeira and Carrington-De Gracia will be broadcast LIVE on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, and ESPN+ at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT. Sky Sports will broadcast the event in the U.K. and Ireland.

The ESPN+-streamed undercard (7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT) will feature the eight-round returns of U.S. Olympian Tiger Johnson (12-0, 6 KOs) and Jahi Tucker (10-1-1, 5 KOs). Johnson will see action in a junior welterweight tilt against Tarik Zaina (13-1-1, 8 KOs), while Tucker squares off against Quincy LaVallais (17-4-1, 12 KOs) at middleweight.

Additionally, Nisa Rodriguez (1-0), a Golden Gloves champion and NYPD officer, makes her second pro appearance in a four-round middleweight clash versus Jordanne Garcia (4-3-3).

Promoted by Top Rank, tickets are on sale via Ticketmaster.com.

This is what the fighters had to say at Thursday’s press conference..

Xander Zayas:

“This is something we’ve worked towards doing. I want to give thanks to Top Rank, ESPN, and MSG for giving me this opportunity. Man, I’m 21 years old, and I’m headlining at MSG. It’s something I always dreamed of. I worked hard for it. And now it’s happening.

“On paper, this is the biggest test of my career. I have to pass it with flying colors. I know that. The team knows that. We’re focused on winning Saturday night and then focusing on everything else.

“Somebody is going to have to back down in this fight. And I don’t believe that will be me. I’m ready to go 10 rounds if necessary. I’m willing to go through everything I have to go through to get the victory.”

Patrick Teixeira:

“A win in this fight can get me back to where I want to be, headlining in big fights.

“Obviously, every fight is different. I know that. So, I prepared differently and used different strategies. I just hope to come out with the win.

“In reality, I adapt myself to my opponent. I like to apply pressure and come forward, but it all depends on what my opponent does.”

Bruce Carrington:

“Of course, we go back to the drawing board with film study and things like that. It’s just the consistency of staying sharp and sharpening the tools. I feel like with my style, I can adapt to anybody in a short period of time.

“I do want to give a shout-out and give thanks to Brayan for taking the fight to make the show still happen. Too bad that he’s going to be on the bad end of that show.

“It’s Shu York City and Puerto Rico coming together. It’s ShuYorico!

“I plan on putting on a great performance. I plan on doing something special for the Puerto Rican fans. They’ve shown me a lot of love.”

Brayan De Gracia:

“I’m always in the gym, regardless of whether I have a fight or not.

“The opportunity came. I just have to adapt to Shu Shu’s style and adjust the sparring partners, too”

Tiger Johnson:

“Last fight, I didn’t get a chance to showcase what we’ve been working on. I had a good training camp in Los Angeles. We worked on a lot, and ya’ll going to see Saturday night.

“It’s really special {to fight alongside my friends}. We’re the best coming up. Ya’ll get a chance to see us and showcase our talent. We’re going to be world champions one day.

“Expect a knockout. A stoppage. I’m getting him out of there.”

Jahi Tucker:

“I’m super excited. I grew up in Brooklyn. Shu Shu was a big part of our neighborhood. It’s crazy that now we’re at The Garden. We’re about to show out.

I’m remaining focused and understanding that the goal remains the same. It’s domination regardless {of the opponent}. We just got to go in there and get rid of him.”

Nisa Rodriguez:

“My son kind of bullied me into turning pro. He was like, ‘You’re not going pro?!’ First, I’m an NYPD officer, but I get my workouts in. And I’m fortunate that my job is supportive so I can do this.

“I feel like I’m at home here. I’m comfortable. I have a lot of support. I’m blessed with my family, friends, my job and the people on this card that I know. It’s encouraging for me.”

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