O’Shaquie Foster vs. Robson Conceicao Breakdown

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On a weekend where the United States celebrates its independence, there’s not much in the way of MMA going on, aside from ONE Championship and the LFA. Largely, Saturday night is going to be dominated by the sweet science of boxing. Bob Arum‘s itinerary is full this weekend, with Top Rank heading to Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.

All told, absent of any late adjustments to the bout order on Saturday, the final version of the ESPN card will feature eight matches inside the squared circle. Live coverage begins with the undercard at 6 pm ET/ 3 pm PT on ESPN+ before going to linear television and ESPN proper at 8:30 pm ET/ 5:30 pm PT after NBA Summer League California Classic basketball.

At the top of the bill are two title fights for WBC gold. Your doubleheader begins with the co-main event of the evening.

WBC Championship Twin-Bill Kicks Off at Junior Lightweight

Current WBC Junior Lightweight (Super Featherweight) Champion O’Shaquie Foster (22-2, 12 KOs) defends his 130-lb. strap for the third time when he takes on challenger and No. 1 WBC contender Robson Conceicao (18-2-1, 1 NC, 9 KOs) in the co-headliner. This contest will be an advertised maximum of 12 rounds at three minutes per round.

The WBC Lightweight Championship fight will immediately follow this co-main attraction. Current 135-lb. champion Shakur Stevenson (21-0, 6 KOs) faces off against No. 7 contender Artem Harutyunyan (12-1, 5 KOs.) More on that fight later on in the week.

Fighter Comparison and Betting Odds

Heading into the co-main event on Saturday night, Robson Conceicao stands as the taller contender at 5-foot-10, compared to the 5-foot-9 frame of O’Shaquie Foster. The champion owns a 1.9-inch reach advantage (72 inches even to 70.1 inches) over the challenger going into this title fight.

Currently, the oddsmakers have O’Shaquie Foster installed as a -250 favorite on the money line, with Robson Conceicao countering as a +200 underdog. If you plan on betting on this or any other fight happening this weekend in combat sports, please wager responsibly.

Foster Teasing Move to Lightweight in Future

Champion O’Shaquie Foster has posted a record of 5-0 in his last five fights as part of an ongoing 12-fight winning streak. Back in February of this year, he made a successful second defense of the junior lightweight strap with a split decision victory over Abraham Nova (23-3, 16 KOs) after 12 rounds inside The Theater at Madison Square Garden.

Although Foster has held the WBC Junior Lightweight Championship since February of 2023, he’s been contemplating a move up to the 135-lb. division in short order, something he told MillCity Boxing about in a recent interview.

“I can still make 130 [lbs.] I can see myself going to [135] around next year or something like that,” the champion began. “I can still make [130] for a couple more fights. The last fight with Nova, I take all the credit for that, being that the fights [were] so close together with [Eduardo] Hernandez and with Nova. I really wasn’t paying attention to my weight like I was supposed to. That was my bad.”

O’Shaquie Foster hasn’t turned 31 years of age yet, with his birthday not until the second half of September. A fight versus Shakur Stevenson would be an appetizing pairing if it eventually comes to pass. Will he successfully defend the junior lightweight title on Saturday night?

Conceicao Makes Another Bid for Junior Lightweight Strap Saturday Night

In the other corner, challenger Robson Conceicao has gone 2-1-1 with one no-contest in his last five fights. This past April, he returned to the win column thanks to a seventh-round knockout victory over Jose Ivan Guardado Ortiz (15-2-1, 5 KOs) in Corpus Christi, TX.

Eight years ago, during the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympic Games, he won the gold medal for his home nation of Brazil and is eager to conquer a feat that none of his countrymen have done before: Taking top Olympic honors in boxing and later following it up with a championship belt, which he talked about with Fights Around the World.

“Being the first Brazilian to achieve both an Olympic medal and a professional world title is a dream that motivates me every day,” Conceicao said. “I want to inspire the next generation of boxers and show that with dedication and perseverance, great achievements in the sport are possible.”

He’s already won once on the world stage. Can he become the new champion this weekend?

Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction

It’s a strength vs. strength contest on Saturday night in the co-main event. Both champion and challenger have orthodox stances.

Foster Can Go Late Into the Fight

Sometimes in combat sports, the quick finish isn’t always assured. In order to get the win, a fighter may have to go deep, like Foster did in his October fight versus Eduardo Hernandez.

During the 12th and final round, after nearly stopping Hernandez a round earlier, the champion scored a knockdown before piecing Hernandez up with a barrage of head shots to sit him down again.

While Hernandez stayed in the fight, it was clear that Foster was in full control down the stretch, landing another flurry of shots, with the official finally intervening with 22 seconds left on the clock. Foster surely lived up to his nickname of “Ice Cold” that night.

If he can leave Robson Conceicao wobbling on Saturday night, he’ll live up to that nickname again.

Conceicao Has to Outpace Foster

In the other corner, Robson Conceicao needs to turn up the volume. That’s how he won gold in Rio in 2016. During the first round of a scheduled three, he came out swinging after the bell, throwing and landing combinations while peppering Sofiane Oumiha with a counter right later on in the round.

Moreover, Conceicao used his head movement advantageously, keeping Oumiha guessing. This continued throughout much of the gold medal match that night.

Robson Conceicao’s key to victory on Saturday night: Keep his foot on the gas pedal.

Final Thoughts

This junior lightweight championship is sure to be a dramatic affair. Pop the corn ahead of time, because you might not be able to once the fight starts.

Prediction: Robson Conceicao by Unanimous Decision. 

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Drew Zuhosky has been writing about combat sports since May of 2018, coming to MMASucka after stints at Overtime Heroics and Armchair All-Americans. A graduate of Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, Drew is a charter member of the Youngstown Press Club. Prior to beginning his professional career, Drew was a sportswriter for YSU's student-run newspaper, The Jambar, where he supplied Press Box Perspective columns every week.