Ring Ratings Update: O’Shaquie Foster climbs to No. 3 in junior lightweight rankings
O’Shaquie Foster diligently worked his way from fringe-contender status to the lower top-10 of The Ring’s 130-pound rankings over the past four or five years, but the talented 29-year-old Texan proved he belongs among the elite junior lightweights with an impressive performance against Rey Vargas, who he outpointed via unanimous decision on Saturday in San Antonio.
Foster (20-2, 11 KOs), who picked up the WBC title via scores of 119-109, 117-111 and 116-112, handed Vargas the first loss of the Mexican veteran’s pro career. Vargas (36-1, 22 KOs), who entered the bout as The Ring’s No. 2-rated featherweight, had a busy 2½-year title reign at 122 pounds before he won the WBC 126-pound belt with a unanimous decision over Mark Magsayo last July.
Some members of the Ring Ratings Panel believe Foster, who entered Saturday’s bout as The Ring’s No. 6-rated junior lightweight, looked sharp enough outboxing Vargas to be considered the best 130-pounder in the game, but agreed a jump to No. 3 was appropriate for now.
“Foster used his speed and skills to dominate Rey Vargas,” said Anson Wainwright. “I liked Foster to win but he was very impressive. Looking at our rankings, none of the guys above him have their positions locked down like Shakur Stevenson previously did. I could see Foster as high as No. 1 but that’s too much of a jump from No. 6, especially as he wasn’t fighting a ranked (130-pound) fighter albeit Vargas is a two-weight world champion. So, I’ll go with No. 3, which is still a really good position. After the dust has settled with Valdez-Navarrete, Rakhimov-Cordina, and Foster has next fought, hopefully the division will have a consensus No. 1.”
Added Abraham Gonzalez: “O’Shaquie Foster showed why no one was running towards a fight against him. His speed, footwork and boxing skills won him the title and should bump him up to No. 3.”
Added Tom Gray: “I like Foster up to No. 3 although I think he’s potentially the best fighter in the division. Excellent performance on Saturday.”
Adam Abramowitz, Tris Dixon, Diego Morilla and Daisuke Sugiura agreed with ranking Foster at No. 3.
Vargas still holds his 126-pound world title and will continue to be rated at featherweight for the time being. He wasn’t the only two-division beltholder from Mexico looking to win a third world title at junior lightweight. Emanuel Navarrete, who was The Ring’s No. 1-rated featherweight, survived a fourth-round knockdown and some rough moments against Liam Wilson to wear down the unheralded Australian in nine thrilling rounds. The victory earned Navarrete (37-1, 31 KOs) the vacant WBO 130-pound belt and just enough support from the Panel to crack the junior lightweight rankings at No. 10. But once the former 122-pound beltholder announced that he would vacate his WBO 126-pound title he was removed from the featherweight rankings.
Wainwright suggested bringing Brandon Figueroa in at No. 10, but his fellow panelists had another suggestion.
“Brandon Figueroa doesn’t have the body of work at 126 yet, just the win over (Carlos) Castro,” said Abramowitz. “Isaac Dogboe has been on a decent run of form since moving up. I’d bring him in at No. 10.”
Dixon, Morilla, Sugiura and Gonzalez agreed with Dogboe (24-2, 15 KOs), a former 122-pound beltholder who has won four in row at featherweight, entering the rankings at No 10.
RING RATINGS UPDATE (as of February 11) –
Super middleweight – Erik Bazinyan advances to No. 6 following a unanimous decision over unrated but respected Alantez Fox.
“Bazinyan edged past the stylistically difficult Fox over 10 rounds,” commented Wainwright. “He had trouble early but forced the action late and got the deserved win.”
Junior welterweight – Arnold Barboza Jr. advances to No. 5 following a unanimous decision over two-division titleholder Jose Pedraza.
“Barboza Jr. has continued to win these ‘prove it’ fights and should get his long awaited shot this year,” said Gonzalez.
Junior lightweight – Foster advances to No. 3. Navarrete enters at No. 10.
Featherweight – Navarrete exits the rankings. Vargas remains at No. 2, but advances to No. 1 with Navarrete’s departure. Dogboe enters at No. 10.
Flyweight – Seigi Yuri Akui remains at No. 10 following a 10-round shutout decision over Jayson Vayson.
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