O’Shaquie Foster knew what he had to do during the championship rounds October 28 in Cancun.

Open scoring afforded Foster knowledge that the WBC super featherweight champion otherwise wouldn’t have had during his first title defense against Mexican challenger Eduardo “Rocky” Hernandez. Judge Nicolas Hidalgo had Foster down by the rather ridiculous score of 100-90, a shutout for Hernandez, after the 10th round and judge Ed Pearson had Hernandez ahead by a slimmer margin, 97-93.

Foster led 96-93 on the card of judge Jorge Gorini, but the Orange, Texas native knew he needed a knockout to win. If Foster hadn’t taken Hernandez out, the challenger would’ve left the ring with the WBC belt Foster had overcome so much, including a four-month incarceration in 2017, to win when he outpointed Rey Vargas in his previous fight.

 A determined Foster rocked Hernandez early in the 11th round, withstood Hernandez’s hard shots later in that round and dropped the courageous challenger twice during the 12th round. He later hammered Hernandez with hard shots until referee Hector Afu stepped between them to stop the action with only 22 seconds to go in the final round.

“That was one of the craziest fights of my life,” Foster told BoxingScene.com. “I mean, I just look at it now like it ain’t too many fighters doing that. First title defense, they ain’t taking it to Mexico, the heart of it. I feel like nothing can stop me now. I already knew who I was, but I showed the world who I was. And I proved to myself, ‘Like, all right, you got it. You can do it.’ Even when I’m training now, I think about that and what they tried to do to me. It just makes me go harder and know I’m in this position for a reason.”

The 30-year-old Foster (21-2, 12 KOs) will make his second defense of the WBC 130-pound crown Friday night against Abraham Nova (23-1, 16 KOs), of Albany, New York. ESPN will televise their 12-rounder as the main event of a three-bout broadcast from The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York (9 p.m. ET; 6 p.m. PT).

While fully focused on Nova, Foster remains thankful that there was open scoring during his fan-friendly fight with Hernandez. Foster would’ve thought he was ahead if the judges’ scores weren’t revealed to each corner after the fourth and eighth rounds.

“It definitely helped me because we knew we was down,” Foster said. “We knew we needed a knockout. I mean, and [having open scoring] was fair because I was in his territory. I was all the way out of my comfort zone, so the open scoring was kinda fair to me.”

Foster fought accordingly during the 11th round. Though he hurt Hernandez almost 45 seconds into it, Hernandez hit Foster with a right hand that made Foster retreat just before the midway mark of the 11th round.

With his back against the ropes, Foster traded punishing punches with the hard-hitting Hernandez in what was one of the most fan-friendly rounds of the year.

The gritty Foster ferociously ensured during the 12th round that there wouldn’t be any controversy regarding who won by taking out the battered, bloodied Hernandez (34-2, 31 KOs).

“It seemed like when I was getting to the corner,” Foster recalled, “the coaches were telling me like, ‘Yo, they got you down.’ And it was like every round was slowed down from that point. Every round I went back [to the corner], it was like, ‘You’re down. You’re down.’ When I got to the eighth, they was like, ‘We probably need a knockout or we ain’t going home with the belt.’

“It was a frustrating thing because I felt like I was winning the fight. You know, I felt like I wasn’t having any problems, but the plan was to get him later in the fight, take him out later in the fight. I didn’t plan on 12 rounds, but it was the plan because he had never been past seven rounds. In 30-something fights, you know, that’s a problem.”

Foster’s dramatic comeback against Hernandez enabled him to sign a multi-fight contract with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc. He’ll make his Top Rank debut versus Nova, whom DraftKings sportsbooks lists Foster as a 9-1 favorite to beat.

“I took that experience that I went through in life,” Foster said, “all of the knockdowns, the setbacks, the stuff that I went through, and then to go and do that, that’s just another thing I can put in to tell me I can’t be stopped. As long as I keep my head straight, keep training and stay focused, that I can’t be stopped. You know, so it showed me a lot. And I appreciate it because I was able to get with Top Rank and now I’m able to fight on ESPN because of what they tried to do and what I showed I’m able to do. So, I definitely wouldn’t change anything about it.”

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