Abraham Nova knows what he should say about Robeisy Ramirez and the former featherweight champion’s surprising defeat to Rafael Espinoza two months ago.

Nova suffered his lone loss to Ramirez in June 2022. The two-time Olympic gold medalist viciously knocked out Nova with a left hand in the fifth round of their 126-pound championship elimination match in The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Nevertheless, Nova wasn’t surprised when he watched an unknown underdog upset Ramirez to win the WBO featherweight title from him December 9.

“I should say he’s this amazing fighter because he knocked me out,” Nova told BoxingScene.com in advance of his first world title shot Friday night, a 12-round fight with WBC super featherweight champ O’Shaquie Foster. “I should be saying that, right? But I have to be real and I can’t lie. I just don’t think he’s that good. He is a good fighter, but he’s not with the elites. So, when he lost to Espinoza, I wasn’t surprised, to be honest.”

The 6-foot-1 Espinoza, unusually tall for a featherweight, got up from a knockdown late in the fifth round, persistently pressed the action, threw a lot of punches, eventually made Ramirez take a knee late in the 12th round and won a majority decision in a main event ESPN televised from Charles S. Dodge City Center in Pembroke Pines, Florida. Judges Benoit Roussel (114-112) and Steve Weisfeld (115-111) scored their fight for Espinoza, whereas judge Efrain Lebron scored it a draw (113-113).

Ramirez, a southpaw from Cuba, entered the ring as a 16-1 favorite to win a fight that was voted “Upset of the Year” by BoxingScene.com for 2023.

“I don’t like taking nothing away from fighters, and there’s a reason why I took the Ramirez fight,” Nova said. “I firmly believed that I could beat him and I was better than him, and I still do to this day. A lot of things happened the night I fought Ramirez, dehydration, my belief with God, you know, the ego, a whole bunch of stuff went wrong. At the end of the day, he still knocked me out, he still was the better man. But I still feel that I am the better fighter. So, I don’t have this high [opinion] of Robeisy, where people are like, ‘Oh, he won two gold medals.’ Those are amateur things. That don’t impress me. I see how he fights and I see a lotta flaws in him. And I see he has one way of fighting.

“So, when I was watching the fight and I saw the will of Espinoza – and I didn’t see no adjustments from Robeisy – I said, ‘Oh, he got him.’ Robeisy didn’t make no adjustments. He kept doing the same thing over and over and over. [Espinoza] didn’t do nothing spectacular. He just imposed his will on him and fought his way to become a world champion. … Espinoza did the same thing from round one to round 12, nothing different. He put pressure on him and Robeisy kept doing the same thing over and over, like it was gonna work. And that shows you what type of fighter he is. A great fighter adjusts on the fly. If something’s not working, try something else. And you didn’t see that from Robeisy.”

Nova (23-1, 16 KOs), of Albany, New York, will attempt to win a 130-pound championship from Foster (21-2, 12 KOs) at the same venue where Ramirez beat him. ESPN will air their 12-rounder as the main event of a three-bout broadcast scheduled to start at 9 p.m. ET.

Las Vegas’ Andres Cortes (20-0, 11 KOs) will oppose Puerto Rico’s Bryan Chevalier (20-1-1, 16 KOs) in ESPN’s co-feature, a 10-round junior lightweight fight. The telecast will begin with a 10-round featherweight bout between Brooklyn’s Bruce “Shu Shu” Carrington (10-0, 6 KOs) and Filipino southpaw Bernard Torres (18-1, 8 KOs).

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.