O’Shaquie Foster ready to defend his belt in Mexico against Rocky Hernandez
O’Shaquie Foster has faced every obstacle, in and out of the ring, and has come out triumphant.
Some fighters may balk at defending their world title belt on foreign soil. Foster welcomes that and any and all types of challenges.
Foster will defend his WBC junior lightweight title against Eduardo ‘Rocky’ Hernandez Saturday night at the Poliforum Benito Juarez in Cancun, Mexico. The 12-round bout will headline a Matchroom Boxing card that will stream live on DAZN (8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT).
The 30-year-old Foster (20-2, 11 knockouts), who resides in Orange, Texas, is usually mild-mannered outside of the ring, but has been very animated throughout fight week, exchanging chatter with Hernandez at a photo shoot at the local beach on Wednesday and at the press conference on Thursday. Both fighters had to be separated by their handlers on both days.
In his last bout on February 11, Foster won the vacant WBC world title belt, defeating Rey Vargas of Mexico City by unanimous decision. The win over Vargas marked Foster’s 10th victory since a split-decision loss to Rolando Chinea by split decision in July 2016. Foster’s other defeat as a pro was to Samuel Teah in November 2015.
Foster is currently ranked No. 5 by The Ring at 130 pounds.
Reflecting on the moment he won the WBC world title belt, Foster believes he finally made it to the big time after a long journey.
“It felt great,” Foster told The Ring Tuesday morning. “(Winning the world title) felt like I belonged, that I was destined to do that. There’s a lot more for me to do. I’m not done yet, there’s more to accomplish.”
Both Foster and Hernandez have come off of setbacks early in their careers. Hernandez (34-1, 31 KOs), who resides in Mexico City, suffered his only loss at the hands of Roger Gutierrez in July 2019. The 25-year-old has won his last six fights since the loss to Gutierrez.
Foster gives Hernandez credit for rebounding from the loss to Gutierrez, but believes he had the more difficult road to the top, which will favor him Saturday night.
“We both had setbacks early on in our career,” said Foster, who is managed by Keith Mills and is trained by Bobby Benton. “I believe I had the harder and more difficult road. I’ve been the B-side and the underdog to get to this point. He had the easier road. I’m the champ and I don’t mind going to his country to defend my belt.”
Back in August 2017, Foster was incarcerated for attempted murder. He was released after four months after the murder charge was downgraded to aggravated assault.
The time of Foster’s incarceration was around the same time he suffered his two defeats at the hands of Chinea and Teah. Foster admitted the incarceration was a wake-up call.
Now that he is a world titleholder, Foster is compelled to maintain the same mentality of being an underdog going into a world title fight. He also hopes to do good and serve the community and help those who have been written off, including him years ago.
“Going through some of the things in my life changed my life and thinking,” said Foster. “I know all I got is me. I stay focused and I do what people are not willing to do. The road is difficult. I won the world title, received lots of praise. There were lots of changes. I still get energy and positive vibes looking at the past me. That keeps me motivated.
“The biggest thing now is turning this energy and it in the community. I may not have been successful in the early part of my career. I feel like I give hope to other young boxers in the area where I live. I learn from these situations and I try to be a role model. I just try and do my best.”
Foster hopes to unify the junior lightweight division after defeating Hernandez, who is the mandatory challenger for Foster’s world title.
There are options for Foster, including WBO world titleholder and No. 1-ranked Emanuel Navarrete. Foster is dialed in on another fighter at 130 pounds, one who is promoted by Eddie Hearn, who is promoting Saturday’s card.
Regardless of who he faces, Foster believes he is the best fighter at 130 pounds.
“I’m the best in the world,” he says. “I would like to face (IBF titleholder) Joe Cordina within the next year. (WBA titleholder) Hector Garcia is another fighter I would like to face next year.
“I would hope to fight in the next six to eight months. I’m not looking past ‘Rocky.’ I have business to take care of first on Saturday night.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]