O’Shaquie Foster has acknowledged that Rey Vargas is the most accomplished opponent of his 10-year professional career and undoubtedly a formidable foe.
Vargas, an undefeated two-weight world champion, figures Foster is more concerned about their fight Saturday night than the seemingly calm contender is letting on. According to Vargas, Foster’s body language and behavior have suggested to him that Foster is “nervous and anxious” about boxing him in a main event Showtime will televise from Alamodome.
“He knows I’m not just anybody,” Vargas said through a translator Thursday during their press conference at The Westin San Antonio North. “And I’m sure that he has lost plenty of sleep being nervous and anxious about having to face me. So, you know, he better be ready and also be ready to use that southpaw stance that he likes to use. I’m well aware that he likes to use both orthodox and southpaw, but I also have a strategy in place to counter anything that he might have in mind.”
The 29-year-old Foster (19-2, 11 KOs), of Orange, Texas, has won nine fights in a row and is ranked number one among the WBC’s super featherweight contenders. The 32-year-old Vargas is 36-0, including 22 knockouts, but most handicappers have listed the Otumba, Mexico native as just a slight favorite to defeat Foster in their 12-round, 130-pound championship match.
“Indeed, O’Shaquie is a quality fighter, someone with an Olympic style,” Vargas said. “I have fought against many opponents that have presented many different challenges. But what I have seen from O’Shaquie is that he has kind of veered from his path, doing some things differently ahead of this fight. I might say that he’s pressing a bit ahead of the challenge that’s coming up on Saturday.”
Foster, who fights effectively from left-handed and orthodox stances, will end a 10½-month layoff when he squares off against Vargas. In his most recent action, Foster beat Tajikistan’s Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (19-1, 10 KOs) by unanimous decision in a 12-round WBC super featherweight elimination match March 18 in Dubai.
Vargas has moved up four pounds, from the featherweight limit of 126 pounds to the 130-pound division, to fight Foster for a WBC belt Shakur Stevenson surrendered at the scale September 22, the day before his 12-round, unanimous-decision defeat of Brazil’s Robson Conceicao on September 23 at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
The tall, rangy Vargas edged the Philippines’ Mark Magsayo (24-1, 16 KOs) by split decision in his last fight, which Vargas won on two scorecards (115-112, 115-112, 113-114). Vargas won the WBC featherweight title from Magsayo in that July 9 bout at Alamodome.
Before Vargas faces Foster, Showtime will air a 10-round, 147-pound co-feature in which San Antonio’s Mario Barrios (26-2, 17 KOs) will box Puerto Rico’s Jovanie Santiago (14-2-1, 10 KOs). In the opener of a Showtime telecast scheduled to start at 9 p.m. ET, Cuban southpaw Lenier Pero (8-0, 5 KOs) and Ukraine’s Viktor Faust (11-0, 7 KOs) will go at it in a 10-round heavyweight bout.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.