O’Shaquie Foster flatters to deceive, but bigger fights may unlock his best

 | February 19 | 

3 mins read

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O’Shaquie Foster had to go the long way round to retain his WBC super featherweight championship against Abraham Nova. I tipped the late stoppage in this fight, considering Nova’s lack of credentials at the top level and the fact Robeisy Ramirez stopped him with little trouble back in 2022. But the underdog nearly had his day, landing some heavy leather in the first half of the fight before Foster pared back his lead.

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A knockdown in the last round widened the scorecards a little more, with a clipped hook putting Nova down late. On the balance of the action you would say Foster was a worthy winner, though. Not every split decision is controversial and there would have been arguably more protests if Nova’s hand was raised.

The tide turned on a forced change in Foster’s strategy. A Nova hook clubbed Foster’s right arm, deadening it. While he recovered, ‘Ice Water’ showed the requisite cool under pressure and switched from southpaw to orthodox. Suddenly, a pumping left jab proved just the key to unlock Nova’s defences. Foster pressed his challenger back to the ropes with it and began to land shots. When the feeling returned, the champion was able to chase that jab with a series of stiff right hands.

Foster pulled a result out of the fire against an opponent expected to be well below his level. In isolation, that is what champions do. But it is worrying that you could apply that same sentence to his last two outings. Eduardo Hernandez was another opponent expected to be a showcase for Foster’s talents. But he was behind on two cards by the time he found a miracle knockout in the 12th round to keep his title.

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The Texan has talked about big fights and unifications. IBF champion Joe Cordina has been mentioned. But you’d imagine the Welshman would have no trouble with the Foster we’ve seen recently. Cordina is far too sharp to let him off the hook like Nova and Hernandez did. Emmanuel Navarrete is ranked number one by The Ring, meaning a fight with second-placed Foster would be for the magazine’s famous title. But the WBO king looks streets ahead of Foster’s current level, despite a draw last time out with Robson Conceicao.

Nottingham’s Leigh Wood is a fighter worthy of such a fight. ‘Leigh-thal’ is at a loose end as his on-off rematch with Josh Warrington looks to have lost its tentative City Ground venue. Wood knocked Warrington out in seven rounds last year and the rematch is unnecessary for anything beyond financial reasons. Boxing has an epidemic of needless rematches and this would be top of such a list. 

Why not let Wood loose against a talented but ailing world champion in Foster? Likewise, for ‘Ice Water’ it would give him a big occasion against a former champion that might light a fire under him. Like Teofimo Lopez, Foster strikes me as a fighter who struggles to motivate himself for lesser fights. But a clash with Wood could fire the synapses. The Brit is a warrior who is in exciting fights, win or lose. No coasting allowed.

There are plenty of good fights out there at 130 pounds for Foster. It might sound counterintuitive to recommend he undertakes tougher challenges than those he has struggled with. But Foster has the ability to rise to the challenge. Perhaps it is the absence of challenge that has led to his lacklustre performances as of late.

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