Rey Vargas envisions an aggressive O’Shaquie Foster coming to take him out Saturday night.
Foster is a diverse offensive fighter who can employ different styles, but Vargas gets the sense Foster won’t want to box in their “Showtime Championship Boxing” main event. Mexico’s Vargas is a two-division world champion, but he’ll make his debut in the 130-pound division, in which Foster has fought for almost five years.
“I’m ready for anything,” Vargas said through a translator recently during a virtual press conference. “I have fought against tacticians. I’ve fought against brawlers. So, nothing really surprises me at this point. I have a hunch that O’Shaquie’s gonna try to come forward and really be aggressive against me, but if he decides to be technical or be a counterpuncher, I’ll be set for that as well. But like I said, my hunch is that he’s gonna try to come after me. And I welcome that. Let’s do it.”
However Foster fights Saturday night at Alamodome in San Antonio, he’ll give Vargas (36-0, 22 KOs) more to think about than his last opponent, Mark Magsayo. The hard-hitting Magsayo (24-1, 16 KOs) dropped Vargas in the ninth round of their fight for the then-vacant WBC featherweight title, but Vargas overcame the shot that sent him to the canvas and won a split decision July 9 at Alamodome.
Vargas opted to move up to the 130-pound division for at least one bout, but he still owns the WBC featherweight title. He hasn’t decided, win or lose, whether he’ll return to the 126-pound division for his following fight.
Despite the challenges Foster figures to present, the 32-year-old Vargas viewed the opportunity to become a world champion in a third weight class as a chance he couldn’t pass up.
“Magsayo and O’Shaquie couldn’t be more different,” Vargas said. “So, as far as the preparation went, it differed a lot [from] how I prepared against Magsayo. Like I said before, it’s all about preparing for the strategy that we think that he’s gonna employ, the aggressiveness that he’s gonna have, going in there like a little tank, trying to steamroll me. But we also know that he’s elusive and he can be a little tough to catch, a little dodgy, so we are preparing for all those efforts and more. Trust me, I’ll be ready.”
Handicappers have made Vargas a slight favorite to defeat Foster (19-2, 11 KOs), who has won nine fights in a row. Foster, of Orange, Texas, definitively defeated Tajikistan’s Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (19-1, 10 KOs) by unanimous decision in his last bout, a 12-round WBC super featherweight elimination match last March 18 in Dubai.
“I’m well aware of Foster’s capabilities,” Vargas said. “I know that he can be a southpaw, as well orthodox. But if he thinks that’s gonna complicate [things for me], he’s got another thing coming. I have no problem whatsoever with it. And my goal is for this to not be a boring fight. I wanna thrill the fans, so come at me with your right hand, come at me with your left hand, but let’s thrill the crowd.”
Vargas-Foster will headline a three-bout broadcast, which will begin at 9 p.m. ET.
In the 10-round, 147-pound co-feature, San Antonio’s Mario Barrios (26-2, 17 KOs) is scheduled to box Puerto Rico’s Jovanie Santiago (14-2-1, 10 KOs). Before Barrios and Santiago square off, Cuban heavyweight Lenier Pero (8-0, 5 KOs) and Ukraine’s Viktor Vykhryst (11-0, 7 KOs) will meet in Showtime’s 10-round opener.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.