Monday, February 19, 2024

Foster-Nova Thoughts

With an unexpected detour of the plans of many Boxing fans for the weekend of February 17th, instead of the focus being on an encounter to determine the Undisputed Heavyweight championship of the world in Saudi Arabia, the Boxing world’s focus instead shifted to the friendly confines of The Theater in Madison Square Garden on February 16th where the spotlight focused on the 130lb. Jr. Lightweight division. In previewing WBC Jr. Lightweight world champion O'Shaquie Foster’s title defense against WBC number twelve rated contender Abraham Nova, this observer noted how the current landscape of the 130lb. Jr. Lightweight division is wide open with five current world champions, representing the five major world sanctioning organizations, currently sitting atop the division.

As such, there is no current central figure in the division, which means that it will be up to one of the current five champions to make a strong enough argument for himself as being the top fighter in the division. What yours truly did not mention was that there are times where such arguments are not likely to be made in one fight, but would/will perhaps take a few fights in order for the fighter through performances in the ring, to drum up public support in their favor as well as to potentially bring about the unification process, which would at least in theory move progress towards determining one world champion, and thus end any would be debates in the court of public opinion. Nearing the one year anniversary of his becoming a world champion by defeating Rey Vargas, now going into his second title defense, it was Foster's chance to continue to make the argument for himself. 

Under such a scenario, one might expect that a champion in Foster’s position might try to be aggressive and in the process look to make a statement. If that were the fight plan for Foster going into this encounter, it did not come to fruition. What occurred inside the ring was the very definition of a tactical Boxing chess match where neither fighter was willing to give much room for their opposition.

The first six rounds of this twelve round world championship bout was largely a contest of jabs and fighting for position. Abraham was very consistent in that any time he threw his jab, it was usually two or three at a time as he came forward. As consistent as it was, the champion Foster seemed prepared for it as he seemed to just evade those jabs from Nova by stepping slightly out of range and trying to give angles. When Foster threw his jab, they were thrown singularly and the challenger seemed to mimic his opponent by stepping out of range.

A true conundrum for anyone attempting to score a fight that is fought in such a way, often who wins a round will be determined by moments in a round that tends to sway opinion one way or the other. Nevertheless, when two fighters are essentially matching each other both offensively as well as defensively, determining such moments can be extremely difficult for any would-be judge. As the fight progressed, Nova seemed to be getting a slight edge as he was able to close the distance in spots and started landing short combinations to the body and head of the champion.

Just as it seemed there was some separation between the two fighters developing, even by the slightest of margins, Foster would respond in the following round where the ebb and flow was essentially at a standstill. After six rounds, I felt the fight was even.

It would be over the second half of the fight however,  where there would be a separation between the two fighters. Despite the bout remaining competitive,  Foster's sharper combination punching, ability to bait Nova into being countered, most notably with left hooks, and finally, being able to score a knockdown in the closing seconds of the twelfth and final round,  ultimately resulted in Foster's retaining his world championship via twelve round split decision. 

Although this was likely not the ideal scenario in which O'Shaquie Foster wanted to retain his title on a big stage in Madison Square Garden, he got the job done against a determined opponent, who to his credit, was able to make things difficult, particularly when the fight was fought on the inside. While we may be no closer to determining who is the top Jr. Lightweight in the world currently,  O'Shaquie Foster did succeed in establishing that he is firmly in the discussion and the focus will likely remain on him moving forward to see if he can continue to make his case. 

“And That's The Boxing Truth."

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