O’Shaquie Foster gears for battle against Rey Vargas TONIGHT on Showtime

By Peter Lim - 02/10/2023 - Comments

On Saturday, Feb. 11, O’Shaquie “Shock” Foster (19-2, 11 KOs) of Houston and Rey Vargas (36-0, 22 KOs) of Mexico will clash for the vacant WBC junior lightweight title at the Alamodome in San Antonio. The fight will be aired on Showtime.

The title was vacated by Shakur Stevenson after he could no longer melt down to the 130-pound limit.

O'Shaquie Foster gears for battle against Rey Vargas TONIGHT on Showtime

On paper at least, Vargas appears to be the clear favorite. Undefeated in 13 years as a pro, he will be seeking his third title in as many divisions having previously held the WBC version of super bantamweight and featherweight titles. In addition, he has more knockout victories on his record than Foster has fights. Foster, on the other hand, has never been in a fight of this magnitude before.

“I never feel like I’m the underdog,” Foster said. “I feel like I’m one of the best fighters in the world. It’s just got to be proven.”

“This is the best camp I’ve ever had,” Foster added. “I’ve been super locked in, I’m happy for the opportunity so I don’t want to let it go to my head.”

Tall and lanky at 5-feet-101/2, Vargas will be moving up in weight while Foster has competed in the division his entire 11-year pro career.

“I feel like he’s an interesting fighter because at 122 and 126 he was always the taller guy, the bigger guy but coming up to 130, I’m naturally the bigger guy,” Foster said. “I think the key is just me being myself. If I go in there and do what I know I can do, it’ll be a fine night for me.”


  • Date: Saturday, February 11
  • Main card: 9 p.m. ET / 2 a.m. GMT
  • Main event ringwalks (approx): 12 a.m. ET / 5 a.m. GMT
  • Showtime will broadcast the fight in the U.S.
  • The fight will take place at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
  • The main card is set to get underway at 9 p.m. ET / 2 a.m. GMT with the main event ringwalks scheduled for 12 a.m. ET / 5 a.m. GMT.

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A cerebral and fundamentally-sound boxer-puncher, Foster typically feeds off his opponents’ style by capitalizing on their mistakes and setting traps. He relies on precision rather than volume punching and is multi-faceted both in offense and defense. Most significantly, though, he does it effectively from both stances being among the rare breed of boxers who can fluidly alternate between southpaw and orthodox without compromising his balance, speed or power.

“I started switching when I was like 12 years old,” Foster said. “I started off orthodox but I was always ambidextrous, being able to use both hands so my coach wanted to try me out at southpaw. He was a big Marvin Hagler fan.”

First lacing on gloves at age 8, Foster had an extensive amateur career culminating in a spot as an alternate on the 2012 US Olympic team. He has been co-trained by Bobby Benton and Aaron Navarro since his pro debut.

Benton was understandably tight-lipped about the game plan he and Navarro had devised against Vargas except to say that Foster’s IQ and adaptability will ultimately trump Vargas’ experience and ranginess. That Foster is in the best shape of his career, physically and mentally, doesn’t hurt either, Benton added.

“Rey is a great fighter,” Benton said. “He’s a two-time world champion. He’s in and out, not your traditional Mexican fighter. He’s got more of a boxer’s style. But Shock’s going to be the smarter fighter. No matter what Rey brings, he’s going to be able to stop it.”

Among the sparring partners, ranging from junior featherweights to welterweights, Benton enlisted to prepare Foster for the fight were Eduardo Hernandez (33-1, 30 KOs), Quinton Randall (11-0, 2 KOs, and Michael Angeletti (7-0, 6 KOs).

Headlining a Showtime card at the Alamodome evokes a sense of nostalgia for both Foster and Navarro since it was the very venue Foster won the National PAL tournament in 2011 and punched his ticket to the 2012 Olympic Trials.

“I had a great time there. Great memory,” Foster said. “I qualified for the Olympic Trials there, now I’m fighting for the world title there so it feels like it definitely manifested itself and came back around.”

“We’ve made a full circle here,” Navarro said. “Twelve years later he’s fighting for the WBC title in San Antonio in the same building.”

Having trained Foster since he was 12, Navarro has witnessed all the ups and downs of his career. In 2015 and 2016, Foster lost decisions to Samuel Teah and Rolando Chinea respectively, both on ShowBox: The Next Generation. Foster attributes those losses to a “lack of focus” due to difficult circumstances he was facing at the time. He was all but written off as wasted talent after those defeats.

“We turned him pro, got him off to a good start but had a couple of bumps in there as a lot of young guys do,” Navarro said. “He’s always had the ability, there’s never been a doubt about that. He had some growing up to do.”

But those two L’s that clouded Foster’s record turned out to be a silver lining, Navarro said, since it gave the illusion that he was a very beatable fighter. In 2018, Foster was brought in as an opponent for streaking and then-undefeated prospect Jon Fernandez of Spain to make his US debut, again on ShoBox. Foster refused to follow the script and soundly outpointed Fernandez for an upset.

“If he hadn’t had those two decision losses when he was having those hard times in his life we would never have been considered for the Fernandez fight,” Navarro said. “But we got in there and we pretty one-sidedly beat Fernandez who was one of the top prospects the boxing writers touted that year.”

“Shock winning that was a big turning point in his pro career where you could see him really switch and realize, ‘hey, now I know what I’m supposed to do.’”

Like Vargas, Foster envisions conquests beyond his current division. At 5-feet-81/2, he said he has the frame for heavier divisions and has had to make major lifestyle sacrifices to compete as a junior lightweight. “I cut out red meat six years ago,” he said. “If I still ate beef and pork I wouldn’t be able to make 130.”

Asked what he ultimately hoped to accomplish in the sport, Foster replied: “To become unified and become a multi-division world champion and try and be able to get into the hall of fame. I want to make history for my city and my family.”

O'Shaquie Foster gears for battle against Rey Vargas TONIGHT on Showtime