Rey Vargas will look to add a world title in a third weight class on Feb. 11, when he faces O’Shaquie Foster for the vacant WBC title at junior lightweight in a Showtime main event from San Antonio, Tex.
Vargas, 32, held the WBC title at 122 lbs from 2017-19, never losing it, and then took the WBC featherweight title from Mark Magsayo last July. The move up to 130 follows discussions to have him face Leo Santa Cruz at 126, and he says he does still hope to face Santa Cruz.
“The Leo Santa Cruz fight is definitely something we’ve had our eyes on for years,” he said on Wednesday. “There were some obstacles coming up, and that’s when this opportunity came up. I’m always up for new and exciting challenges and this was definitely one of them. I think this will be just as good of a fight as the Santa Cruz fight will be.”
Vargas (36-0, 22 KO) stresses that his focus is on Foster, though, and that he respects what his opponent brings to the table in this matchup.
“Foster is very different from my last opponent. We’ve done a lot of different things in this training camp. We’re getting ready for the strategy that we think he’s going to employ. He’s elusive and he can be tough to catch.
“At the end of the day it’s about two guys in the ring trying to get the best out of each other. I’ve been in friendly and hostile environments in the ring. So I’m not worried about anything other than Foster.”
Foster (19-2, 11 KO) has won nine straight since a 2-2 stretch in 2015-16, and in his last fight, looked better than ever in a win over Muhammad Yaqubov in Dubai.
“Everything happens for a reason. I had a couple setbacks and had to get focused and weed out the bad energy in my life. Now I’m ready,” the 29-year-old Foster said.
“It didn’t matter who I was facing. I was ready for anybody. It just makes it better that he’s an undefeated two-time champion. He’s a current champion, so I should get all my props after the fight.”
The two also played some mind games regarding how the fight might look.
“I’ve fought all kinds of styles, so nothing really surprises me. I have a hunch that Foster is going to come forward and be aggressive,” Vargas offered. “If he fights me tactically, then I’ll be ready for that too. This is definitely an interesting challenge.”
“I don’t know why he thinks I’m going to come out aggressively at him,” Foster shot back. “I come out with different styles every time I fight. If he tries to box me or walk me down, good luck. He needs to worry about what he’s going to do.”
Vargas added that he’s not sure what weight he’ll fight at following this bout — he still holds the WBC’s featherweight title, which if it goes vacant, looks as though it will be contested between Mark Magsayo and Brandon Figueroa on March 4 — and will have options whether he wins or loses. But if he wins, a desired Santa Cruz fight likely would be at 130, as Leo vacated his WBA featherweight title just recently and hasn’t fought at that weight since 2019.
Foster doesn’t seem to have anything on his mind other than this bout, which is his first crack at a world title.