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O’Shaquie Foster: ‘I’ve matured now, mentally and physically’

Which O’Shaquie Foster are we going to see against Abraham Nova on Friday in New York City?

Foster gave a virtuoso performance when he easily outpointed previously unbeaten Rey Vargas to win a 130-pound title in February of last year. Then, in his first defense in October, he had to dig deep to stop Eduardo Hernandez in the final round of a fight he was losing.

We’ll see what we get. However, Foster (21-2, 12 KOs) insists that each fight – the easy ones, the hard ones – have made him a better fighter.

“The journey has been everything,” he said. “The ups and downs. Growing as a person. I’ve matured now, mentally and physically. Words can’t explain how I feel, but I’m ready.”

Foster turned in the performance of his career against Vargas, using his superior skills to win a one-sided decision and finally become a world champion after more than a decade as a professional.

Then came near disaster.

Foster got off to a solid start against Hernandez but the capable, busy Mexican outworked him the rest of the way, leaving the 30-year-old Texan behind on two of the three official cards as the fighters entered the championship rounds.

Two judges had Hernandez leading (80-72 and 79-73) and the third had it even (76-76) after eight rounds, essentially meaning the champion needed a knockout to hold onto his newly acquired belt.

And, indeed, a fighter known best for his technical ability showed his gritty side to deliver one. He hurt Hernandez in Round 11 and then finished the job in Round 12, during which he put the challenger down and later pounded him against the ropes until the fight was stopped.

Only 22 seconds remained.

“It was crazy [against Hernandez],” said Foster, who has now won 11 consecutive fights. “We shocked the world. And I’m here to do it again. Everybody calls me Shock, and we’re going to keep doing it.”

Nova, a one-time amateur star, has been on Foster’s radar for some time.

The 30-year-old native of Puerto Rico bounced back from a fifth-round knockout loss to two-time Olympic champion Robeisy Ramirez in 2022 – his only setback — by defeating Adam Lopez (UD) and Jonathan Romero (KO 3).

Nova (23-1, 16 KOs) will be fighting for a major title for the first time.

“We’ve been calling out Nova for years,” Foster said. “He knows it. His excuse was that my name wasn’t big enough. Funny how the tables turn. I’m ready, and I’m familiar with his style.”
 
“I did everything in the gym. We are prepared. Come Friday night, we will dominate and put on a show.”

Story originally appeared on Boxing Junkie