READY TO PACK A PUNCH — O’Shaquie “Shock” Foster eyes junior lightweight title
Published 12:36 am Saturday, February 11, 2023
O’Shaquie “Shock” Foster is fighting for the vacant WBC junior lightweight title against Rey Vargas of Mexico at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
The bout will broadcast on Showtime, starting at 8 p.m. today (Feb. 11).
Capturing a world title would merely represent the tip of the iceberg in Foster’s long-term vision “to become unified and to become a multi-division world champion and be able to get into the Hall of Fame.”
“I want to make history for my city and my family,” he said.
Foster, 29, relocated to Houston to train under the guidance of Bobby Benton and Aaron Navaro at the Main Boxing Gym five years ago. But he still considers Southeast Texas home and returns every chance he has to spend time with his grandmother, siblings, nieces and nephews.
“Orange, Texas. I was born and raised out there,” Foster said. “I’ve got a lot of support from all my family, all my people there.”
In Vargas, 31, Foster faces a tall, rangy boxer who has never tasted defeat in a professional career spanning 13 years, 36 fights and world-title reigns in two weight divisions.
Foster, on the other hand, has won 19 fights, lost two and has never fought for a world title. Vargas stands at 5-feet 10 1/2, two inches taller than Foster. But fights are not fought on paper and in the actual ring, substance matters more than stats.
“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.”
Cunning and calculating, Foster typically deploys a modus operandi of a matador, sidestepping his opponents’ charges and striking with precision at opportune moments.
His most distinct attribute is his ambidexterity that allows him to box comfortably from both a right-handed and southpaw stance. It is a skillset, he said, custom-suited to out-maneuver a fighter with Vargas’ style.
“I think the key (to victory) is just me being myself,” Foster said. “If I go in there and do what I know I can do, it’ll be a fine night for me.”
Without revealing too much about their battle plan, Benton said Foster’s superior boxing IQ and caginess will ultimately trump Vargas’ advantage in size and experience.
“He’s going to be the smarter fighter,” Benton said. “No matter what Rey brings, Shock’s going to be able to stop it.”
Navarro has been in Foster’s corner since he was an amateur at age 12 and has seen the highs and lows in his career including a slump in 2015-16 during which Foster lost two fights by decision.
Foster attributes the downturn to a “lack of focus” and “too many things going on in my life.”
But in 2018, Foster rekindled a stagnating career with an upset win over highly-touted and undefeated prospect Jon Fernandez of Spain. The victory marked a positive milestone not only in the trajectory of his career, Navarro said, but also in his outlook and attitude.
“Shock winning that fight 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,’” Navarro said.
While Vargas will be vying for a 130-pound title after previously winning titles in the 122- and 126-pound divisions, Foster, too, intends to bulk op to conquer the 135- and 140-pound divisions in the near and distant futures.
He has had to abstain from his beloved bacon burgers, pepperoni pizzas, boudins and hot pockets in lieu of leaner, healthier sources of protein like poultry and fish for the better part of the last decade to keep his chiseled physique within the weight limit.
“I cut out red meat six years ago,” Foster said. “If I still ate beef and pork I wouldn’t be able to make 130.”
Besides spending time with his immediate and extended family, Foster, a father of a 2-year-old son, indulges in basketball and bowling during his down time.
— Written by Peter Lim