O’Shaquie Foster meets Alberto Mercado tonight on UFC Fight Pass
O’Shaquie Foster wants to be mentioned among the best fighters at 130 pounds in 2020. A convincing victory to close out 2019 could put him closer to challenging for a major title.
Foster will square off against Alberto Mercado tonight at Terminal 5 in New York City. The 10-round bout will headline a four-bout stream on UFC Fight Pass (8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT).
At Wednesday’s weigh-in, Foster (16-2, 10 knockouts) weighed in at 129.9 pounds. Mercado (16-3-1, 3 KOs) weighed 129.4 pounds.
Foster most recently fought on July 17 in San Jose, Costa Rica, scoring a highlight-reel knockout victory over Peru’s Jesus Bravo. Foster’s most impressive win to date occurred on September 21 of last year on a “ShoBox” telecast, when he defeated previously unbeaten prospect Jon Fernandez of Spain by unanimous decision.
Against Mercado, the 26-year-old faces a fighter who has lost two of his last three bouts, with those losses coming at the hands of Lamont Roach last December 15 and Chris Colbert on June 23. Despite Mercado’s recent struggles, Foster is not overlooking the Puerto Rican.
“He’s a durable guy,” Foster told The Ring on Wednesday afternoon. “He is a veteran, tough opponent who comes to fight.”
Foster has won his last six bouts since losing by split decision to Ronaldo Chinea in July of 2016. He has fought with more aggression and has sat down more on his punches in recent fights, stopping his last two opponents.
His recent success has earned him a No. 8 ranking by the WBC but Foster believes he has all the tools to be a great all-around fighter, including being more aggressive and throwing multiple combinations.
“I’m definitely sitting down on my punches a lot more,” said Foster, who is promoted by Lou DiBella. “I’ve always been strong but I was more of a boxer (who) didn’t really sit down and put that twist on my punches. That’s something we’ve worked on in recent camps.”
Foster may not yet have the name recognition or a world title at 130 pounds but he believes he has yet to hit his ceiling as a fighter. He also believes he has to outdo himself with each fight, including the impressive victory over Bravo.
He does envision facing the best in the division, including WBC titleholder Miguel Berchelt, WBA titlist Leo Santa Cruz, IBF beltholder Tevin Farmer and WBO titllist Jamel Herring.
“I envision myself winning a world title sometime in 2020. If not a world title, at least a title eliminator, which will put me in the mandatory position.
“I don’t believe I have to make a statement. It’s more of, I want to make another statement. I feel like I’m the more underrated and avoided fighter in the game and I just want to keep proving that I belong at the top.”
Foster has beat modest and above-average opposition in recent months. If he can defeat the best fighters at 130 pounds remains to be seen but an impressive showing against Mercado could go a long way to gtetting him the opportunity.
He also hopes a victory would set him up for bigger paydays and fighting on more prominent cards. Then again, the soft-spoken Foster may have a little narcissism in him.
“To be honest, I feel like I’m the best all-around junior lightweight out there. I just haven’t got the chance to show my full potential.”
Also in action:
– Argentina’s Ana Laura Esteche (14-5-3, 2 KOs), of Argentina, will square off against Mary McGee (25-3, 13 KOs) of Gary, Indiana, in a 10-round bout for the vacant IBF female junior welterweight title.
– Junior welterweight Mikkel LesPierre (21-1-1, 10 KOs) will square off against Quebec, Canada’s Roody Pierre Paul (16-5-2, 6 KOs) in an eight-round bout. LesPierre, originally from Trinidad and Tobago and now residing in Brooklyn, New York, most recently fought on March 9, losing to then-WBO junior welterweight titleholder Maurice Hooker.
– Heavyweight prospect Stephan Shaw (12-0, 9 KOs) of Saint Louis, Missouri, will face Dallas’ Gregory Corbin (15-2, 9 KOs) in a 10-round bout.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper, BoxingScene.com and FightNights.com. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @FSalazarBoxing.
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