O'Shaquie Foster drops, outpoints Yaqubov in WBC title eliminator

O’Shaquie Foster inches closer to his first career title fight.

The streaking contender from Houston picked up the biggest win of his career, soundly outpointing Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov over twelve rounds. Judges Michael Tate (118-109), Gary Kitanoski (117-110) and David John Irving (117-110) all scored in favor of Foster in a WBC-sanctioned junior lightweight title eliminator Friday at Duty Free Tennis Stadium in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Ring rust was evident in the early rounds for Foster, who hadn’t fought since a ninth-round knockout of Miguel Roman in November 2020. The entirety of the past year was spent embroiled in a lawsuit with estranged promoter DiBella Entertainment before the case was settled last November, at which time Foster signed with Probellum.

The first fight back saw Foster use every inch of the ring for the first several rounds, with Yaqubov—a Tajiskani southpaw based out of Russia—constantly coming forward. Yaqubov struggled to pin down the fleetfooted American before getting his timing down in round three.

Foster continued to stick and move, adhering to the advice of head trainer Bobby Benton who saw the streaking contender grow increasingly comfortable with each passing round.

Yaqubov fended off an early blitz from Foster at the start of round five, serving as the aggressor and connecting with a right hook later in the round.

Foster took a more aggressive approach in the second half the fight, initiating the action against a willing Yaqubov. Both fighters enjoyed big moments in an action packed round eight. Foster was first to the punch during a number of exchanges, though forced to prove his mettle after Yaqubov connected with an overhand left.

Yaqubov took the lead in a round nine that saw Foster coast, perhaps with the intention of preserving his energy for the later rounds. The Tajikistani southpaw took advantage, landing a right hook which Foster took well but for which he did not have an immediate response.

Foster boxed from the outside in round ten, attempting to get Yaqubov to overcommit with left hands and counter with a left of his own. Yaqubov wouldn’t take the bait, stepping back and connecting with clean shots upstairs.

Foster worked his jab in round eleven, with Yaqubov unable to defend against the weapon other than to respond with offense of his own. Foster took Yaqubov’s best shots, sensing his foe was running low on energy as he put more behind his combinations. Yaqubov took a counter right hook clean to the chin, though managing to snap back Foster’s head with a right hook of his own.

However close the fight was heading into the final round, Foster did his part to make sure the win wasn’t stolen from him.

A last-ditch effort by an exhausted Yaqubov provided an opportunity for a fight-sealing knockdown. Foster waded through a wild combination from Yaqubov to freeze him in place with a jab and left hand over the top, producing the bout’s lone knockdown. Foster finished the round and fight on a high note, hoisted by Benton at fight’s end.

Foster advances to 19-2 (11KOs) with the win, his ninth in a row and now moving within one fight from challenging for at least one major title.

Yaqubov suffers his first career defeat, falling to 18-1 (10KOs).

Foster’s win comes on the heels of former title challenger Robson Conceicao winning a title eliminator in a lopsided points win over previously unbeaten Xavier Martinez. Both wait in line for WBC junior lightweight titlist Oscar Valdez (30-0, 23KOs), who faces WBO titlist Shakur Stevenson (17-0, 9KOs) in a title unification bout on April 30 in Las Vegas.

Foster-Yaqubov came in supporting capacity to the first-ever female title fight main event in the Middle East. France’s 2016 Olympic Gold medalist and current IBO lightweight titlist Estelle Mossely (9-0, 1KO) defends her crown versus Argentina’s Yanina del Carmen Lescano (10-1, 2KOs) atop Friday’s show, which aired live on Fubo Sports Network.

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