By Peter Lim
Junior lightweight prospect O’Shaquie Foster (14-2, 8 KOs) takes on Fatiou Fassinou (28-11-3, 15 KOs) on Feb. 23 at the Beaumont Civic Center in Beaumont, TX. It will be Foster’s first fight since reigniting a stagnated career with a minor upset by outpointing previously undefeated Jon Fernandez (17-1, 15 KOs) on ShoBox: The Next Generation in September.
“It was big,” Foster said of the Fernandez fight. “I moved into number 10 in the world in the WBC rankings. It got me back to where I’m supposed to be as one of the top fighters in the world.
“Definitely after this fight we’re going to step it up and take on some of the top 10 names that are ranked ahead of me, maybe Miguel Berchelt or Jason Sosa.”
It will be a homecoming of sorts for Foster, 25, since Beaumont lies between his hometown of Orange and his current residence of Houston.
“I’ve had so much pressure under me just performing in other people’s backyards that when it comes to fighting at home it’s more relaxing to me,” Foster said. “I know Saturday I’m going to come in to do what I have to do, shine and put on a performance.”
In Fassinou, a southpaw out of the African nation of Benin, Foster faces a seasoned veteran of 42 pro fights who has recently fallen into a role of early gatekeeper in the 126- and 130-pound divisions. In his last five fights, all losses, Fassinou, 32, went the distance against five prospects with a combined record of 46-1, including Brendan Figueroa, younger brother of former world 135-pound titleholder Omar Figueroa.
“I’m ready for it to go 10 rounds but I would like to be the first to stop him out of the bunch,” Foster said. “The key is constant pressure and smart pressure, working the body and breaking him down from there because I see that he likes to move around a lot and he’s got an unconventional style.”
An alternate for the 2012 US Olympic team, Foster won his first seven fights as a pro before faltering in his eighth and 11th fights against fellow prospects Samuel Teah and Rolando Chinea respectively. Foster found himself in a rut after those two losses which he attributed to a lack of focus compounded by legal and logistical problems.
Foster’s gym in his hometown of Orange closed, leaving Foster to be gym-less and self-trained for a period in his career. In 2017, he was incarcerated for over four months for an assault charge.
“I was involved in a little altercation and it ended up turning into a little shooting incident and I was the main suspect,” Foster said.
Foster’s time behind bars coincided with Hurricane Harvey that ravaged the Texas Gulf Coast causing Foster and his fellow inmates to endure stretches of up to four days without electricity while locked up. But he also got to watch Terrence Crawford’s fight with Julius Indongo while in jail. His incarceration forced him to take stock of his life and realize what he could be accomplishing as a free man.
“It wasn’t a good experience,” Foster said. “I’m just trying to stay focused and don’t let nobody get me off my game and what I’m trying to do in life. It just made me realize what I had to lose and what I had to gain.”
A switch-hitter, Foster said his ultimate goal in the sport is not just capture a world title or two but to leave behind a legacy as one of the greatest fighters to ever lace on gloves. The 130- and 135-pound divisions are a good place to start since they are home to the likes of Vasyl Lomachenko, Mikey Garcia and Gervonta Davis.
“I’m going to stay at 130 for a while until I capture a couple of the belts and unify and then move up to 135,” Foster said. “It’s loaded with talent up and down. But I feel like I’m the most talented boxer that’s in the sport right now and that will be in history. I’ve just got to prove it. I’ve been overlooked but I’m used to it.”
Asked when he would be ready to step up against the 130 and 135 elites, Foster responded: “Shit, if it were up to me, I’ll be ready for them now.”