Foster controls late rounds, retains title vs. Nova

Boxing

O’Shaquie Foster retained his WBC junior lightweight title with a split-decision victory over Abraham Nova on Friday at New York’s Theater at Madison Square Garden.

One judge scored it 114-113 for Nova but was overruled by scores of 115-112 and 116-111 for Foster. The champion scored a 12th-round knockdown to seal the victory, connecting with a counter left hand with less than 25 seconds remaining in the fight.

“I’m a 12-round fighter and I know how to make adjustments through the fight,” said Foster, ESPN’s No. 2 boxer at 130 pounds. “He came on strong in the beginning, but I found my rhythm and I found his timing and then I started picking it up.

“I had a bad weight cut. … My rhythm was just off. … I’m going to be back stronger than ever.”

Nova (23-2, 16 KOs), a major underdog competing in his first 12-round bout, won two of the first four rounds on all three scorecards. But he seemed to tire down the stretch — no surprise, considering he was in his first title fight.

The 30-year-old Puerto Rican’s lone previous bout against a current or former champion came in 2022, when he was knocked out in the fifth round by Robeisy Ramirez at 126 pounds.

Nova had his moments in the bout, particularly in the fourth round with a nice mix of punching to the body and head. But it didn’t sustain. The 12th-round knockdown ensured Nova would lose the fight. If Nova won the final round, the fight would have been ruled a draw.

“He did hit me, but I did slip [in Round 12],” Nova said. “I lost my balance. I wasn’t hurt. The fight would have been a draw if that hadn’t happened. This is boxing. I know they probably think I wasn’t that good. But you guys see I’m a great fighter.”

Foster (22-2, 12 KOs) took control over the final four rounds as Nova tired. He was able to time Nova coming in, and for the second consecutive fight, Foster closed strong. The 30-year-old, who fights out of Houston, was making the second defense of his title.

Foster won the 130-pound title last February when he defeated Rey Vargas, and then successfully defended it in October with a 12th-round TKO victory over Rocky Hernandez. Foster was down wide on two of the three scorecards when he scored the come-from-behind KO to retain his title.

Now, Foster is looking to unify the junior lightweight division. He mentioned fellow titleholder Lamont Roach and the winner of the March 29 fight between Oscar Valdez and Liam Wilson as possibilities for his third defense.

‘Shu Shu’ delivers highlight-reel KO

On the undercard, Bruce “Shu Shu” Carrington remained undefeated with a highlight-reel fourth-round KO victory over Bernard Torres in a featherweight bout.

Carrington, ESPN’s 2023 Prospect of the Year, connected with a sharp right hand in the closing seconds of Round 4 as Torres crashed face first to the mat. The referee immediately halted the bout without a count with one second remaining in the frame.

Carrington (11-0, 7 KOs), a 26-year-old from Brooklyn, appears ready to contend for a world title. He is ESPN’s No. 10 boxer at 126 pounds.

Torres (18-2, 8 KOs), a 27-year-old native of the Philippines, lost for the second time in four fights.

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