O’Shaquie Foster (20-2, 11 KOs) was on another level tonight, putting on a masterclass performance with a near-shutout 12-round unanimous decision over talented former two-division world champion Rey Vargas (36-1, 22 KOs) to claim the vacant WBC super featherweight title on Saturday night in front of a large crowd at the beautiful Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
The 5’8 1/2″ dealt with the height of the 5’10” Vargas, using his hand & foot speed advantage to land at will with scoring punches to dominate virtually every round.
Vargas fought hard, but he was coming up short with his punches and paying a heavy price for his attempts to land shots. The counter-punching from Foster gave Vargas fits and his normal style of trying to box failed to pay off tonight.
In the championship rounds, Vargas came on a little, but Foster finished strong in the 11th & 12th to get the win. The scores were 116-112, 117-111, and 119-109.
Vargas looked too slow & sluggish at 130, and he doesn’t look at all comfortable in the weight class after moving up from the featherweight division.
With the win, the 29-year-old Foster captures his first world title in his 11-year professional career. It’ll be interesting to see if his promoter can set up a unification fight with any other champions at 130.
An ideal unification fight would be Foster against the newly crowned WBO super featherweight champion Emanuel Navarrete, who is coming off a win over Liam Wilson last week. However, with Navarrete promoted by Top Rank, it’s highly unlikely Foster will get the opportunity to fight him.
As for the 32-year-old Vargas, it would be a good idea for him to return to the 126 to see if he can capture another world title in that division. It’s too late for him to continue defending his WBC featherweight title because he already gave up the belt.
Mario Barrios stops Jovanie Santiago
In the chief support bout, former WBA 140-lb champion Mario “El Azteca” Barrios (27-2, 18 KOs) stopped Jovanie Santiago (14-3-1, 10 KOs) by an eighth round knockout in a bout in the welterweight division.
Barrios, 27, took his time, softening up the ring-rusty Santiago through the first seven rounds before going for the finish in the eighth round. Mario dropped Santiago with a nice left to the body in the eighth round.
When the action resumed, Barrios landed a series of unanswered shots that caused the corner or Santiago to throw in the towel. The time of the stoppage was 1:42.
Barrios will now be looking to put himself in a position to challenge for one of the belts at 147. With Errol Spence Jr potentially giving up his IBF, WBA & WBC titles in moving up to 154, Barrios could go after one of the straps.
Lenier Pero stops Viktor Faust
Undefeated former Cuban heavyweight amateur standout Lenier Pero (9-0, 6 KOs) had too much for Viktor Faust (11-1, 7 KOs), stopping him in the eighth round.
Pero, 29, landed a devasting body shot in the eighth round that hurt Faust bad enough to where he turned his back on the Cuban. The fight was then stopped. The time of the stoppage was at 2:28 of the eighth.