For the second week in a row, a fighter who has already won fights at Jr. featherweight and featherweight will shoot for a major title in a third weight class.
Will we see a fighter pull off the feat for the second week in a row?
That’s going to be determined once the bell rings in this interesting Showtime main event (Saturday, 9 PM EST). On paper, Rey Vargas-O’Shaquie Foster looks more competitive going in than Emanuel Navarrete-Liam Wilson did. Looks were deceiving and we got a fight of the year candidate.
Can boxing fans see another Jr. lightweight battle exceed expectations?
Let’s get into it.
Stats and Stakes
Current Title: WBC Featherweight (2022-Present, 0 Defenses)
Previous Titles: WBC Super Bantamweight (2017-20, 5 Defenses)
Height: 5’10 ½
Weight: 129 ½ lbs.
Hails from: Mexico City, Mexico
Record: 36-0, 22 KO
Press Rankings: At 126 - #1 (BoxRec), #2 (Ring, ESPN), #3 (TBRB)
Record in Major Title Fights: 7-0
Last Five Opponents: 113-12 (.904)
Notable Outcomes, TBRB and/or Ring Rated Foes: Oscar Negrete UD12; Tomoki Kameda UD12; Mark Magsayo SD12
Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: Alexander Munoz TKO5
Current Title/Previous Titles: None
Height: 5’8 ½
Weight: 129 ½ lbs.
Hails from: Houston, Texas
Record: 19-2, 11 KO
Press Rankings: #4 (BoxRec), #5 (TBRB), #6 (Ring), #10 (ESPN),
Record in Major Title Fights: 1st Title Opportunity
Last Five Opponents: 143-28-5 (.828)
Notable Outcomes, TBRB and/or Ring Rated Foes: Miguel Roman KO9
Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: None
The Pick: Vargas holds a lot of advantages in this fight in terms of height and experience. The difference in speed may ultimately be minimal. The initial thought was Foster appeared a little quicker but watching back some of Vargas-Magsayo again displays how quick Vargas can be as well. If there is an offset to Foster’s edge, it would be that while shorter Foster has slightly longer arms and could win exchanges when both are getting off in close succession to each other.
Foster’s biggest asset in this fight could be his feet. Foster moves in and out of range more nimbly than a Vargas who creates awkward leverage with his wiry frame but who works best when his feet are planted. Vargas is the smart pick in this fight given he is the more proven commodity but it doesn’t feel like the right pick. The thinking here is Foster beats Vargas to the punch, and escapes, with enough routine to gather rounds though there will be spots where we see firefights break out. The pick is Foster by decision.
Rold Picks 2023: 4-0
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at email@example.com