Thursday, February 15, 2024

Foster-Nova Preview

The weekend of February 17, 2024 was to be centrally focused on the unification bout between undefeated Heavyweight world champions Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk for the Undisputed Heavyweight championship of the world, which was to have taken place in Saudi Arabia. As most know, the fight will not be taking place due to a severe gash suffered by Fury over the WBC champion’s right eye, which has for the moment halted what could still happen at some point later this year, despite the numerous conspiracy theories that are being shared throughout the sport.

For those looking for a theory or a would be “Hot Take” from this observer, you have unfortunately come to the wrong place, or should I say, chosen to read the wrong column penned by yours truly. Rather than spending what would amount to a waste of time and energy discussing theories, which may or may not have basis depending on your own perspective as a valued reader, I would much rather spend time talking about a world championship fight that at least as of this writing is still on the schedule. A fight that will not be taking place in Saudi Arabia, but rather a more familiar setting to many Boxing fans, The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY, where on Friday, February 16th, WBC Jr. Lightweight world champion O'Shaquie Foster will make the second defense of his world championship against current WBC number twelve rated Jr. Lightweight contender Abraham Nova. A twelve round world championship bout that can be seen here in the United States on digital subscription sports streaming network ESPN+.

Foster, who won the WBC Jr. Lightweight world championship in February of last year with a twelve round unanimous decision over Rey Vargas, now prepares to make his second defense shortly after the one year anniversary of his becoming a world champion. In his last bout, Foster successfully defended his title with a twelfth round stoppage of Eduardo Hernandez in October of last year.

The current landscape of the 130lb. Jr. Lightweight division is one that is wide open with five current world champions atop the division. When such a scenario occurs in the sport, there is usually a question of which of the current world champions can emerge as the division’s central figure, which in turn could at least in theory, pave the way to potential unification bouts with the assumed goal of establishing one world champion. Foster now prepares to make a case for himself as potentially that central figure against Abraham Nova.

Nova, a veteran of twenty-four professional fights, has only lost one bout in his career, which came in June 2022 when he was knocked out in five rounds at the hands of Robeisy Ramirez, coincidentally in the same venue where this fight will take place. Since that setback, Nova has won back to back fights via decision. Although he is rated just outside of the top ten in the World Boxing Council’s (WBC) Jr. Lightweight ratings, he does have punching power in having scored sixteen knockouts in his twenty-three career wins, in registering a near 70% career knockout percentage. From a statistical standpoint, this gives him at least on paper a slight edge compared to the champion, who will come into the fight with a record of 21-2, with 12 Knockouts, which gives Foster a career knockout percentage of just over 57%.

While sometimes statistics turn out to be little more than information on a piece of paper or a screen on a given device, what those numbers should indicate is both champion and challenger do have the ability to get an opponent out of there should the opportunity present itself. As for whether or not that opportunity will emerge in this fight, only time will tell.

At his best, O'Shaquie Foster is a very well-balanced boxer that is very compact in how he throws his punches, has good lateral movement, and is a world-class counter puncher. There have been times however, where he has been clipped by punches in the midst of exchanges. While those instances have not manifested in the form of getting knocked out, it is something the champion needs to keep in mind when going against a fighter that has power as Nova has.

On the flip side of the equation, the challenge for Abraham Nova is going to be whether he can limit Foster’s ability to move and cut the ring off where the terms of the combat and how it is fought may be more in his favor. It may be a task that is easier said than done given Foster's hand speed and his ability to be accurate with his punches. Nova must be tactical and avoid being overly aggressive due to the aforementioned attributes in Foster’s skillset if he wants to be successful in this fight.

While this fight does not have a sub-plot, at least going into it, of it possibly leading to a potential unification bout later this year for the winner, what it does have is a story of a world champion looking to establish himself as the best in his division going against a fighter that has the biggest opportunity in his career before him. Sometimes there is not much needed other than what looks to be a competitive fight on paper, with a world championship on the line, and it taking place in the historic Madison Square Garden. It is up to Foster and Nova to determine how this story will conclude.

“And That's The Boxing Truth.”

Foster vs. Nova takes place on Friday, February 16th at The Theater in Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY. The fight as well as it's full undercard can be seen in the United States on digital subscription sports streaming network ESPN+ beginning at 5:15PM ET/2:15PM PT.  

ESPN+ is available through the ESPN app on mobile, tablet, and connected streaming devices/Smart TVs. For more information about ESPN+ including schedules, list of compatible streaming devices, platforms, Smart TVs, and to subscribe please visit:

(*Card and Start Time Subject to Change.*)

(*Check your local listings internationally.*)

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