O’Shaquie Foster is as aware of what’s in his future as he was in the ring to win his first major title.

Back-to-back mandatory title defenses await the 29-year-old Orange, Texas native following his twelve-round, unanimous decision victory over two-division titlist Rey Vargas. Judges Alejandro Rochin (119-109), Tim Cheatham (117-111) and David Sutherland (116-112) all scored for Foster, who claimed the vacant WBC junior lightweight title Saturday evening at Alamodome in San Antonio.

As is the case with any title fight, the post-fight conversation immediately shifted to thoughts of further unifying the division. Foster (20-2, 11KOs) will have a long way to go to travel that route. Even an active 2023 campaign would still include no fewer than one fight versus a WBC-appointed mandatory challenger.

“I think I have two mandatories,” Foster acknowledged to Showtime’s Brian Campbell during his in-ring post-fight interview.

Foster-Vargas was ordered by the WBC during its annual convention last November in Acapulco, Mexico. The fight became necessary when Shakur Stevenson (19-0, 9KOs) was forced to give up his WBC and WBO 130-pound titles after missing weight ahead of a twelve-round decision win over Brazil’s Robson Conceicao last September 23 in Newark, New Jersey.

With the ordered title fight came instructions for the winner to expect two mandated title defenses, per sanctioning body rules covering vacant title fights. Next up will be Mexico City’s Eduardo ‘Rocky’ Hernandez (33-1, 30KOs), who has won five straight—all by knockout—since a stunning first-round stoppage loss to Roger Gutierrez in July 2019. The defeat aged well, as Gutierrez went on to claim the WBA ‘Regular’ junior lightweight title before surrendering the belt to Hector Garcia last August 20.

Hernandez has scored knockouts in each of his last 27 wins after going the distance in three of his first six bouts. All 30 career knockouts have come inside of five rounds, including a sensational stoppage win at 1:15 into the fifth round over unbeaten Jorge Mata Cuellar (15-0-2) last September 3 in Hermosillo, Sinaloa, Mexico.

There remains work to be done for the second mandatory. Among the many fights assigned by the WBC convention was a title eliminator between Conceicao and Tajikistan’s Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov, which has yet to make its way to a fight schedule and also stands a good chance of never seeing the light of day.

Conceicao (17-2, 8KOs) has suffered both career defeats in title fights. One year prior to the loss to Stevenson, the three-time Olympian and 2016 Olympic Gold medalist dropped a twelve-round decision to then-unbeaten WBC 130-pound titlist Oscar Valdez (29-0 at the time; now 30-1 with 22KOs), who will likely next challenge three-division and recently crowned WBO junior lightweight titleholder Emanuel Navarrete (37-1, 31KOs).

Yaqubov (19-1, 10KOs) was soundly outpointed by Foster in their WBC title eliminator last March 18 in Dubai. Foster floored the unbeaten Tajik southpaw in the twelfth and final round to emerge victorious by similarly wide margins as was the case in his title-winning effort over Vargas (36-1, 22KOs) on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Yaqubov has since rebounded with an eight-round shutout of Carlos Cordoba last September 11 in Chelyabinsk, Russia.

Foster could always file for an exception in lieu of two consecutive mandatory defenses, though it would be a one-shot deal. At the very least, he will likely have to next face Hernandez whose team has yet to indicate that he’s not interested in pursuing his first career title fight.

The division's other titleholders are Garcia (16-1, 10KOs; 3NC), who holds the WBA belt; and IBF titlist Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov (17-0-1, 14KOs). 

Both are saddled with mandatories of their own. Rakhimov will next face number-one contender and former IBF 130-pound beltholder Joe Cordina (15-0, 9KOs) on April 22 on the road in Cardiff, Wales. Garcia was granted a one-fight exception to challenge WBA 'Regular' lightweight titlist Gervonta Davis (28-0, 26KOs), where he suffered a ninth-round stoppage defeat. An ordered title fight with number-one contender Lamont Roach likely awaits his return to the 130-pound division. 

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox