“I can’t put it into words.” Orange’s O’Shaquie “Shock” Foster celebrates WBC junior lightweight title

Published 12:18 am Tuesday, February 14, 2023

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O’Shaquie “Shock” Foster lived up to his nickname by winning a surprisingly easy unanimous decision victory over Rey Vargas of Mexico to claim the vacant WBC junior lightweight title at the Alamodome in San Antonio Saturday night.

Foster (20-2, 11 KOs) handed Vargas his first defeat and put the City of Orange on the boxing map.

A two-division world titleholder, Vargas (36-1, 22 KOs) entered the fight a slight favorite.

“I can’t put it into words,” a jubilant Foster said in the post-fight interview on Showtime. “I know my mom, my uncle, my grandpa, they are all looking down on me.”

Foster accurately predicted before the fight that sticking to the basics, not overthinking it and just being himself was the simple but winning formula he needed to foil Vargas’ style alongside his significant advantage in size and experience.

Foster’s trainer Bobby Benton’s pre-fight prognosis also proved prophetic.

“He’s going to be the smarter fighter,” Benton said. “No matter what Rey brings, he’s going to be able to stop it.”

Both boxers deployed similar tactics against each other. Throughout the bout they took turns being the aggressor and the counter puncher. Both fighters favored the cross-armed, shoulder-roll posture and each fired off identical punch combinations.

In addition, both boxers made themselves frustratingly elusive targets by feinting and jitterbugging all night.

Foster ultimately proved a tad more proficient in every respect. In their fistic game of cat-and-mouse, Foster, 29, emerged the savvier athlete regardless of which role he assumed as he outmaneuvered Vargas from close and long range.

Standing two inches shorter than his 5-feet-10 1/2 opponent, Foster nullified Vargas’ height-and-reach advantage with deft timing and footwork. When they traded punches in toe-to-toe exchanges, it was Foster who got the better of the skirmishes.

Most significantly, Foster jolted Vargas every time he landed a clean shot while absorbing Vargas’ best punches with nary a wince.

Foster put an exclamation mark on his victory by dominating the 12th and final round. Cranking up the tempo, he forced Vargas into retreat and punished him with pinpoint punches to the head and torso. Vargas, though, was seasoned and wily enough to survive until the final bell.

“We knew it was a wipeout but we really didn’t want to leave it in the judges’ hands and didn’t want to make it close,” Foster said. “I definitely wanted to stop him and close the show like (my coaches) were asking for.”

The verdict was unanimous, and lopsided with scores of 116-112, 117-111 and 119-109, all for Foster who remained his own worst critic despite the comprehensive victory.

“I’m definitely not satisfied with my performance,” he said. “I feel like I can do better and I’m going to show it in my next fights.”

Vargas disputed the decision but swallowed his first loss with dignity.

“It was a close fight but we have to respect the judges’ decision,” he said.

The support from Foster’s hometown was abundant and audible at Alamodome.

“It was Orange, Texas, in the house tonight, man,” Foster said. “It was lit to see the whole city come out.”

Beyond the immediate victory celebrations, Foster, an alum of West Orange-Stark, intends to use his newfound celebrity to create a positive impact and generate hope at the grassroots level within the community from which he hails.

“We definitely made history for my city,” Foster said. “I’m the first world champion to come through, so it’s going to give inspiration to the youth and to the next generation coming up. Man, it’s going to be great to bring that kind of atmosphere to the city.”

— Written by Peter Lim