The underdog didn’t even let it get close. 

Using deft upper body movement, quick feet, and offensive timing, O’Shaquie Foster ended the undefeated run of veteran Rey Vargas, preventing Vargas from winning a belt in his third weight class and sending Vargas back to featherweight. 

Each man ended the night a titlist. Only one left with his hand up Saturday and Foster earned it from early on. Vargas tried all night to find openings but whether it was by a little or a lot, and there were plenty of both, Vargas missed far too often to ever really get anything going.

One judge gave Vargas only a single round while the others gave him three and four for the night. It was the sort of fight where all three scores were plausible. From this vantage point, nine rounds to three in Foster’s favor looked right. 

It wasn’t a fight high on big exchanges or even consistently exciting action. It was a fight where three of the four judging elements the late Harold Lederman used to remind viewers of (defense, ring generalship, effective aggression) arguably mattered more than clean punching. There was enough of that for Foster but his control in the other three areas was more impressive.

There were no visible nerves, no trepidation. Foster stuck to the game plan. Vargas was aggressive, increasingly so in the second half. Following a bit of a rally in the sixth and seventh, Vargas almost fought desperately sometimes. 

It was boxing 101 and Foster entered a new phase of his career.

Futures: The new phase for Foster is part of a bigger new phase for the Jr. lightweight division. The expectation here is to see the division stay fractured for at least a couple fights all around. As Jake Donovan reported in the aftermath of the fight, Foster is staring at potentially two WBC mandatories: Eduardo Hernandez and another still to be determined. 

Boxing has been in the midst of unification fever on the men’s and women’s side. Jr. lightweight may look more like the status quo for the foreseeable future with multiple beltholders not really converging to the same path.

In this case, that won’t necessarily be a bad thing. 130 pounds is a weight class without a clear identity right now. Shakur Stevenson sort of gave it one when he partially unified last year but everyone knew it was a stop over before other things.

The cast in place isn’t high on star power but it does feature several fan friendly battlers, a good mix of styles, and the chance for someone to emerge to create interest in unification down the road. After winning on Showtime Saturday, Foster may have the best line to a second title in the form of WBA titlist Hector Garcia but both men winning a couple more would do much to make the risk worth their while.

Throw in a very interesting fight between Joe Cordina and Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov coming up and the possibility of Emanuel Navarrete-Oscar Valdez and it’s a start. Jr. lightweight added a new player Saturday night. Now it’s about all of the players creating new interest in their game.

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