Pro boxer from Orange can bring it from both sides

Craig Stilley, O’Shaquie Foster and Aaron Navarro

O’Shaquie Foster is no longer just the funny-looking name of a 22-year-old pro boxer from Orange. In fact, it’s already become a household name. He is now one of the top up-and-comers in the world of professional boxing.

Foster, who holds an undefeated pro record of 8-0 with 5 knockouts, will next fight on Friday, Nov. 6, against Samuel Teah (6-1) inside the D Hotel & Casino on Freemont Street in downtown Las Vegas, and the fight will be televised nationally on ShoBox, part of the Showtime network.

Foster recently signed an exclusive promotion deal with GH3 Promotions of New Jersey. GH3 rosters some of the best fighters in the world, including undefeated middleweight Antoine Douglas, super-middleweight Jerry Odom, and undefeated super-bantamweight Adam Lopez, as well as Boxcino 2015 junior-middleweight champion John Thompson Jr.

Foster’s amateur record speaks for itself. He won nearly 200 fights, and a few of his accomplishments include being a two-time National Jr. Golden Gloves champion, five-time Ringside national champion, National PAL champion and 2011 Houston Golden Gloves champion. He also made it to the finals of the Olympic trials before losing to eventual Olympian Joseph Diaz.

After turning pro and winning his first six fights, Foster hit a lull. That’s when fellow Orange native Craig Stilley came in nine months ago.

Stilley, who has been involved with boxing for more than 20 years, trained with the late Dick Menchaca. Menchaca was a two-time Golden Gloves champion and became the first Texan to win a National Golden Gloves title in 1940. He was selected for the U.S. Olympic boxing team in 1940, but later postponed due to World War II.

Stilley trained fighters in Vidor alongside former famed pro boxer James Pipps then went on to open his own gym inside the National Guard Armory in Orange and train more than 100 fighters, both at the amateur and pro levels.

“We sat down and talked and I told him if this is what he wanted to do, then I will give you 100 percent of my attention,” said Stilley. “He wanted to aggressively take it to the next level, and we just bonded from the start.” 

Considering what Foster has done, “aggressively” is putting it kind of mildly.

Under the direction of Stilley, “Ice Water” Foster has won his last two fights in a combined 2:29, defeating Frank Jordan via KO in early August and doing the same to Darius Jackson in September, but in just 63 seconds.

Stilley said in their first fight together, which was Aug. 8 in Washington D.C., he saw something impressive in Foster, and it wasn’t just the physical tools.

“He dropped his opponent in 40 seconds,” said Stilley. “What usually happens next is the fighter will then run across the ring and start swinging wildly trying to finish the fight. O’Shaquie didn’t do that. He slowly set him up, switched stances, from southpaw to orthodox, and that in itself is what impressed me the most about him. It’s remarkable how mentally strong he is.”

With so much talent and at a young age, some might wonder why he wouldn’t take his talents to a bigger city and set up camp somewhere else.

“He trained in Houston previously, but he is very confident in my training,” said Stilley. “Just because Houston is much bigger and has more fighters doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting the best training.”

Foster quickly agreed.

“I am not a fancy type of guy,” said Foster. “I like training in a gym by myself, so I can get in a lot of hard work. Plus, I love the relationship I have with my coach. He is a great man. He looks out for me and knows everything about me, and that’s what I love about him. He is like a second father.”

Stilley and Foster’s father went to school together and said that he and O’Shaquie just bonded from the start. 

“He knows I am watching out for him, and he is my best interest, and that’s one of the reasons why he wanted me to be his manager as well,” added Stilley. “I look at him as my best friend, son and brother. We are very tight. I don’t do anything without brining it to O’Shaquie first.”

Foster’s current training regimen for his first pro televised fight consists of working out in Orange three days a week then sparring in Houston twice a week before returning to Orange on Saturday and doing explosive cardio drills.

“This fight is going to be huge for my career,” said Foster. “I just have to stay focused on the fight itself. In training, I am dedicating myself to run an extra mile and do more minutes on the punching bag. It’s a big television fight, so I am going to rely a lot on my brain.”

Stilley said he has never seen a boxer who can think in the ring like Foster. 

“He can get into the ring and figure people out quickly,” said Stilley. “He switches from southpaw to orthodox without a hitch. He has great vision, power and reflexes. He really is the total package.”

“If you watch Floyd Mayweather’s eighth pro fight and watch O’Shaquie’s, you would see two totally different fighters; he is nowhere near his peak right now,” added Stilley.

To be so talented, Foster is a very quiet young man.

“I know the Lord can take it away just as fast as he will give it to you,” Foster said. “It’s all about staying humble, but I am a very confident guy.”

Stilley also compliments Aaron Navarro, his assistant coach and cornerman as well as several sponsors such as Stilley Enterprises, Nolan Leblanc Law Firm, Ritter Lumber, Liz Hogan of FitLife, and Rebel and Russ Railey for allowing him and Foster to use their gym.

“His true peak will come in about four or five years,” said Stilley. “If he is this good now, it’s going to be scary how good he is then. I truly believe in my heart he will be world champ.”

O’Shaquie, with a grin, replied, “Yep.”