SANTA YNEZ, California – Call it a coincidence or serendipitous, but as boxing is having improved success at aligning its stars, pay mind to what is happening this weekend.

On back-to-back nights, on opposite coasts, two of the most promising 154-pounders in the world are hosting main events to build anticipation toward a possible collision course down the road at Madison Square Garden.

Ireland’s Callum Walsh, 23, did his part to heighten the drama Friday night at Chumash Casino Resort, knocking out veteran knockout puncher Carlos Ortiz at 1 minute, 50 seconds into the second round to improve his spotless record to 11-0 with nine KOs.

And Saturday night on ESPN, Puerto Rico’s Xander Zayas (18-0, 12 KOs) will meet former 154-pound titleholder Patrick Teixeira (34-4, 25 KOs) at the MSG Theater in New York.

“Ireland versus Puerto Rico is always a great combination for MSG fights,” Walsh promoter Tom Loeffler told BoxingScene.

By producing what his famed trainer Freddie Roach described as “his best performance ever,” Walsh clinched the prize of an early fall homecoming fight in Ireland.

Dealing with a desperate, 39-year-old Ortiz, who was initially knocked down in the first round by a short right hook, Walsh confronted his opponent man to man in the second and dropped him twice more with lefts, the final one leaving Ortiz crashing down as referee Jack Reiss quickly waved the fight over.

“When they land, no man can take them. … I know it was short, but I got the job done,” Walsh told BoxingScene in the ring afterward. “The best thing about tonight was that I was fighting a guy with a 100 percent knockout ratio. He was going to be dangerous – everyone thought – and I went in there and I proved I don’t care. I knocked out the knockout artist.”

Walsh was returning from headlining two straight main events at the MSG Theater, confronting a dangerous, experienced foe.

But Ortiz was no match in this firefight, and Walsh’s backer, UFC President Dana White, told BoxingScene he was highly impressed.

“He looks good,” White said. “I love the kid. So excited to see how far he can go.”

Added Roach: “His focus, his IQ. He just saw everything [Ortiz] did, and he caught him with some really, really good shots. A lot of people were telling me, ‘Watch out for this guy, he’s dangerous.’ I told [Walsh], ‘Go out there and box.’ And that’s what he did. Good win, I’m happy.”  

While Top Rank Chairman Bob Arum cautioned that “we’ve got to take our time” because his fighter Zayas is “just 21,” he maintained enthusiasm about the idea of Walsh and Zayas being on a collision course, knowing the tenacity of Loeffler and the talent of Roach.

Top Rank Vice President of Boxing Operations Carl Moretti is bullish on the notion.

“While there’ve been no direct discussions, you could certainly see the two of them fighting each other one day at The Garden,” Moretti said.

The parties involved are fully aware that engaging in this type of futuristic matchmaking is a perilous venture.

As the 2010s launched, there was a cross-promoted scheme to build the careers of Oscar De La Hoya’s East L.A. find Frankie Gomez and Top Rank’s sure-fire prospect Jose Benavidez Jr.

Gomez actually retired unbeaten at 21-0 with 13 KOs, but not before struggling to make weight and failing to veer clear of the trappings of his hometown allegiances. He didn’t fight again after a May 2016 bout on the night Saul “Canelo” Alvarez opened boxing at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Three months later, Benavidez Jr. was shot in the leg on his hometown Phoenix streets and his career has never been the same, while younger brother, David, has proceeded to a world title and unbeaten acclaim heading into his June 15 bout in Las Vegas against former light heavyweight world titleholder Oleksandr Gvozdyk, of Ukraine.

That was then.

This is now.

Asked about Zayas in victory, Walsh said, “I’ll knock him out, too. I promise I can knock him out.

“I’m getting better every time. This is the best I’ve ever felt. I needed that one to get that hunger back, dominating a fella like that. Untouched, un-injured, ready to go again as soon as possible.”

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