Showtime/PBC Announce Rey Vargas-O’Shaquie Foster Undercard
Monday afternoon saw Showtime Boxing and Premier Boxing champions fill out the pay per view undercard for the Rey Vargas-O’Shaquie Foster WBC vacant junior lightweight battle for February 11th in San Antonio’s Alamodome. And, that undercard will have a familiar named fighter in the co-feature and battle of up and coming heavyweights in a third fight.
From the Showtime release of the support bouts for the Vargs-Foster battle for the vacant WBC 130 lb. title,
The Showtime Championship Boxing telecast begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and also features former champion and all-action San Antonio-native Mario “El Azteca” Barrios, now trained by top trainer Bob Santos, returning to the ring in a 10-round welterweight duel against Jovanie Santiago that serves as the co-main event. Kicking off the action, hard-hitting unbeaten heavyweights go toe-to-toe as Cuba’s Lenier Pero takes on Ukraine’s Viktor Faust in a 10-round attraction…
San Antonio native Barrios is back
The 27-year-old Barrios (26-2, 17 KOs) returns to the ring after challenging former unified welterweight champion Keith Thurman in February 2022, dropping a decision in a hard-fought clash. The San Antonio-product, who now trains with Santos, a top coach, in Las Vegas, became a 140-pound world champion in September 2019, using his aggressive style to edge out Batyr Akhmedov and earn a unanimous decision. Barrios lost the super lightweight title in another action packed, highly competitive bout, as he was defeated by three-division and five-time world champion Gervonta Davis in June 2021.
“Everyone knows I come with everything I got when I step into the ring, and I’m excited to be back for this big opportunity on SHOWTIME,” said Barrios. “I’m even more motivated knowing that I get to fight back at home in San Antonio and give my people a great fight. Everyone is going to see pure boxing entertainment as I’ll be putting my skills on display with bad intentions. I’ve proven that I’m a warrior every time I get into the ring and I’m bringing that same energy for Santiago.”
Born in Bayamon, Puerto Rico and now residing in Dorado, Santiago (14-2-1, 10 KOs) impressed in his U.S. debut in February 2021 despite losing a competitive decision against four-division champion Adrien Broner on SHOWTIME. The 31-year-old followed that up in May challenging top 140-pound contender Gary Antuanne Russell in a bout he lost by sixth-round stoppage. Prior to those fights, Santiago had won four of five contests by knockout, a streak that followed a 10-round decision triumph over DeMarcus Corley in 2017. Santiago’s only blemish before the Broner fight was a majority draw in just his third pro contest.
“This is going to be a very exciting fight,” said Santiago. “I’m ready to go in there and throw a lot of punches Barrios and I are both looking to bounce back from losses and show that we’re elite fighters. That’s going to make this an action-packed fight and I know that I have everything it takes to leave with my hand raised. The fans in San Antonio can expect us to give it our all from start to finish.”
International heavyweight prospects battle to start the show
A 2016 Olympian from Camaguey, Cuba, Pero (8-0, 5 KOs) had an extensive and highly successful amateur career that spanned over 100 fights, including multiple victories over countryman Frank Sanchez and efforts against heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, heavyweight prospect Filip Hrgovic and Olympic Gold Medalist Bakhodir Jalolov. The 30-year-old now fights out of Miami, Fla., and made a successful U.S. debut on New Year’s Day 2022, defeating then-unbeaten Geovany Bruzon. He’s added two more victories since then, most recently knocking out Joel Caudle in a bout streamed via the SHOWTIME Sports YouTube channel and SHOWTIME Boxing Facebook page in August.
“I’m really looking forward to making my SHOWTIME debut on February 11,” said Pero. “Ever since I started boxing, I’ve been working toward my goal of becoming the first Cuban heavyweight world champion. Faust is a good opponent, and this is by far the biggest fight of my career. A victory will skyrocket my career and put me in a great position. I’m going to seize this moment and bring home a victory for my people in Cuba.”
Faust (11-0, 7 KOs) returns to fight in the U.S. after his last stateside outing saw him engage in one of 2022’s most unpredictable and fast-paced slugfests. The 30-year-old squared off with Iago Kiladze in January 2022 with both men hitting the canvas an astonishing five times combined in less than five minutes of action before the Ukrainian closed out the action in round two to earn a TKO. Faust has followed that up with decision wins over veteran title challenger Kevin Johnson in August and Franklin Lawrence in December before he returns to fight in the U.S. for the third time.
“This is a great opportunity for me to show off my talents in the U.S.,” said Faust. “I’m especially happy to be back against a great opponent like Pero. He was a good amateur, and I know we’ll both be very confident heading into this fight. I’m going to win and show everyone that I’m ready to do everything possible to reach my goal and become world champion.”
Meanwhile, the undefeated two-division world champion Vargas will battle top 130-pound contenderFoster for the vacant WBC junior lightweight crown in a showdown that headlines action live on Showtime Saturday, February 11 from the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, topping a Premier Boxing Champions event.