By: Sean Crose
The 26-0 two division world champion Rey Vargas fought the 19-2 O’Shaquie Foster for the WBC super featherweight title Saturday night at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The scheduled 12 round affair was the main event of a Showtime broadcast card. The night opened, however, with the 8-0 Lenier Pero battling 11-0 fellow heavyweight Viktor Faust in a scheduled 10 rounder.
Pero landed well to the body in the first. Faust tossed and landed some heavy leather in the second. Pero continued to work the body in the third, though Faust was the more active of the two fighters. A Faust left caused Pero to stumble in the final seconds of the round. By the fourth it appeared to be clear that Pero was the more skilled fighter, while Faust was the stronger one.
Another hard left rocked Pero in the fifth. Pero was able to throw and land more in the sixth. It still may not have been enough, however, to carry the round. It was obvious in the seventh that Pero was simply fighting in too inert a style to best Faust. The Miami based fighter, by way of Cuba, would have to change things up if he wanted to win the match.
And change things up Pero did, socking Faust so hard to the body in the eighth that the Ukrainian went out on his feet, causing the referee to stop the fight.
Next up was a scheduled ten round welterweight affair between the popular, 26-2, Mario Barrios and the 14-2-1 Joavine Santiago. The first round saw Santiago trying to get inside on his noticeably bigger foe. Barrios, however, went on to apply pressure of his own. The fighters remained rather patient in the second, neither appearing eager to throw with regularity.
The third proved to be an interesting, fast paced affair, with each man having his moments. Things were blistering in the fourth, though Santiago’s effective aggression may have edged the chapter in his favor. Santiago continued trying to get inside in the fifth. Barrios started rocking his man in the sixth. Santiago’s corner threatened to stop the fight in between rounds.
Santiago had guts, but little else in the seventh. A body shot put the game Santiago down in the eighth. He beat the count, but then Santiago’s corner wisely stopped the fight moments later.
It was time for the main event.
Both Vargas and Foster took to flicking off quick jabs in the first. Vargas went down early in the second, but it was ruled a slip. Foster was able to toss off punches quickly throughout the round. The third saw Foster simply being too slick for his man. Vargas also had a cut above his left eye. The fourth was closer than the previous rounds, but Foster still appeared to land the better shots overall.
The fifth round was close, though – again – the slippery style of Foster may have edged it. The sixth essentially told the story of the fight as it was up until that point: Foster could land clean on Vargas, but Foster’s style wouldn’t allow Vargas to land clean on Foster. There wasn’t much difference in the seventh from the previous six rounds. Vargas simply couldn’t land well on his opponent.
Foster had complete mental control of the fight in the eighth. Vargas was clearly on the way to suffering his first defeat if he couldn’t make something happen. Foster’s input appeared to be dropping in the ninth. And indeed, Vargas appeared to be doing better. Was he doing enough, though? Foster went on to land the better shots in the tenth. The Texas native then relentlessly pursued Vargas in the eleventh, though the round was admittedly a back and forth affair.
The twelfth and final round saw more of the same as Foster worked to assert himself while Vargas worked to figure his frustrating foil out. Foster even looked as if he might be trying to finish Vargas off within the distance in the final minute of the fight. Vargas certainly didn’t go down, but the night belonged to Foster, who won the WBC belt by scores of 116-112, 117-111, and 119-109.
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