The currently available WBC junior lightweight title won’t remain vacant for long.
BoxingScene.com has learned that the teams representing Rey Vargas and O’Shaquie Foster have reached a deal for their ordered vacant title fight, thus avoiding a purse bid hearing. The two sides were given 30 days to negotiate terms for their matchup, managing to find common ground well before the November 8 deadline.
Neither a date nor location was firmly established as this goes to publish. BoxingScene.com has learned, however, that the fight is expected to take place in the first quarter of 2023 on a Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) event.
Mexico’s Vargas fights under the PBC banner. Houston’s Foster is with Probellum, co-founded by Richard Schaefer who has always enjoyed a strong relationship with PBC creator Al Haymon.
The WBC and WBO belts became available when Shakur Stevenson (19-0, 9KOs) was stripped after failing to make weight ahead of a September 23 unanimous decision win over Robson Conceicao.
Vargas (36-0, 22KOs)—an unbeaten two-division and reigning WBC featherweight titlist—submitted a request which was unanimously approved by The WBC Board of Governors to challenge for the vacant WBC junior lightweight title. It meant having to enter talks with Foster (19-2, 11KOs), who has resurrected his career and is presently among the top 130-pound contenders in the world.
The development came in lieu of a rumored WBC/WBA featherweight title unification bout with four-division and reigning WBA ‘Super’ 126-pound titlist Leo Santa Cruz that was eyed for this fall. The bout was presented to the WBA as a done deal, as means for Santa Cruz and WBA ‘World’ featherweight titleholder Leigh Wood to avoid a title consolidation clash.
Those plans backfired when Wood suffered an injury which canceled his planned fight with Mauricio ‘Bronco’ Lara, while Santa Cruz-Vargas never made its way to the schedule.
With the fallout, Vargas moved on to unexpected plans of becoming a three-division titlist. The 31-year-old from Otumba, Mexico previously held the WBC junior featherweight title from February 2017 through August 2020, when he was downgraded to Champion in Recess after a broken leg kept him out of the ring for all of 2020.
Vargas officially moved up to featherweight beginning with a ten-round win over countryman Leonardo Baez last November 5 in Las Vegas, then going on to outpoint unbeaten Mark Magsayo to win the WBC featherweight title in his most recent fight on July 9 in San Antonio.
Foster (19-2, 11KOs) is currently riding a nine-fight win streak dating back to 2017. The 29-year-old Houston native has advanced to the number-one position in the WBC junior lightweight rankings following a knockout win over Miguel Roman in November 2019 and a lopsided points victory over then-unbeaten Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov on March 18 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The winner of the forthcoming title fight will be required to make two mandatory title defenses per WBC by-laws covering vacant title fights.
The status of Vargas' WBC featherweight title is expected to be addressed during the sanctioning body's upcoming annual convention from November 6-11 in Acapulco, Mexico.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox