Mexico’s Rey Vargas bids to become a three-weight world champion when he takes on O’Shaquie Foster for the WBC super-featherweight title at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas on February 11.
The 12-round bout, plus undercard action, will be broadcast by Showtime in the U.S.
Vargas (36-0, 22 KOs) won the WBC super-bantamweight title in February 2016 and made five successful defences. Injuries and the COVID-19 pandemic affected the Mexico City native’s momentum, but he prepared diligently for his return and was rewarded. In July 2022, Vargas posted a career-best triumph, outpointing the previously unbeaten Mark Magsayo to capture the WBC featherweight crown.
Just seven months on, Vargas is moving up again and will vie for another world championship.
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Over the past 25 years, how many fighters have captured more than two WBC world titles in different weight classes? Off the top of my head, Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Erik Morales, and Claressa Shields. Apologies if I missed anyone, but it’s still a select group. While I’m not suggesting that one governing body is better than another – hell Pacquiao and Amanda Serrano have won seven and eight divisional titles, respectively – more should be made of what Vargas is attempting to accomplish here.
The 32-year-old was frustrated when an all-Mexican clash with multi-weight world champion Leo Santa Cruz failed to materialize. However, Vargas has refused to take the easy route and is chasing history.
“The Leo Santa Cruz fight is definitely something that we have been meaning to do for years now,” Vargas told The Sweet Science. “But as the process got more complicated and other stuff just kept getting in our way, this door opened for us where it was definitely an interesting challenge, something that can be as good as the Leo Santa Cruz fight.”
“(I’m) in a new division, the super featherweight division, where I can test myself. Yes, it’s not my division per se, but I’m always up to new and exciting challenges, and this is definitely one of them. So, even though this isn’t the Leo Santa Cruz fight, it can definitely live up to the hype just as that one would.”
One would certainly hope that this is the case.
🚨 IT’S #VARGASFOSTER FIGHT WEEK 🚨
On Saturday 2/11, @reyvargasbox looks to become a three-division world champion when he battles @OshaquieFoster for the vacant WBC Super Featherweight World Title, live on @ShowtimeBoxing.
Fight Night Details: https://t.co/rr3JPJyHPe pic.twitter.com/GtMOH51J5r
— Premier Boxing Champions (@premierboxing) February 6, 2023
When the Mexican triumvirate of Morales, Marco Antonio Barrera, and Juan Manuel Marquez were all shooting for world titles in different weight classes, those fighters were the talk of the boxing world.
By contrast, Vargas vs. Foster has gone slightly under the radar.
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There may be reasons for this inequity. While Vargas is capable of mixing it up, his purist fighting style belies what is expected from a Mexican world champion. He’s more boxer than bomber; more disarmer than destroyer; more technician than terror. However, boxing is about hitting and not being hit, a skill that Vargas has mastered.
While it’s a vacant title that’s at stake, Foster (19-2, 11 KOs) is a quality operator in his own right. As was the case with Vargas, the Texas-based southpaw’s career was interrupted by COVID-19, but he’s unbeaten over the past six-and-a-half years and on good form. In March, Foster outpointed the previously unbeaten Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov (UD 12) in Dubai, rubberstamping that victory by flooring the Tajikistan fighter in the final round.
The home fighter’s motivation is sky-high ahead of his first world title fight.
“It’s something that I’ve been working for since I was eight years old,” Foster told TSS. “I never had a dream to be an Olympian, it was always to be a world champion, so I’m feeling great and I’m ready to put on a show for the world.
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“I feel like everything is happening at the right time and it’s my time to take over. I would love to unify once I get the title and then go undisputed if I can. I’ve got big, big, big aspirations coming up. We’re going to make it happen.”
Whether it’s Vargas becoming a three-weight world champion or Foster fulfilling his dream of winning a first, let’s hope the winner is given ample credit for their achievement.