When Rey Vargas and O'Shaquie Foster square off Saturday night on SHOWTIME, they continue a series of legendary battles that took place at the Alamodome and in the city of San Antonio.
San Antonio might be best known nationwide as the home of historic The Alamo and the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, the latter of which is the only major league professional sports franchise in town.
Perhaps less known is that professional boxing also has thrived in Texas’ second largest city, particularly at the 60,000-plus-seat Alamodome.
That tradition will continue on this Saturday, February 11, when undefeated two-division titleholder Rey Vargas faces top contender O’Shaquie Foster for the vacant WBC World Super Featherweight Championship at the Alamodome, live on SHOWTIME (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
The list of memorable fights that led to Vargas-Foster is a long one. However, to give you an idea of San Antonio’s strong history in boxing, here are five fights that won’t be forgotten.
DANNY LOPEZ VS. MIKE AYALA
Date: June 17, 1979
Venue: Convention Center Arena
Records: Lopez 40-3 (37 KOs), Ayala 21-1 (11 KOs)
Division: Featherweight (126 pounds)
At stake: Lopez’s WBC title
Result: Lopez KO 15
Background: You had to see Hall of Famer “Little Red” Lopez to appreciate him. The native of Utah was one of the most-exciting knockout artists in history, which earned him a considerable following – particularly in his adopted hometown of Los Angeles – in the 1970s. He held the WBC 126-pound title from 1976 to 1980, including eight successful defenses. His penultimate fight on that list came against the talented young Ayala in the challenger’s hometown. And it turned out to be The Ring 1979 Fight of the Year and an all-time classic. Ayala, an excellent technician from a fighting family, tried to box early but was drawn into an all-out 14-plus-round war that had two endings. Yes, you read that correctly. Ayala was counted out in Round 11 but was allowed to continue after officials determined he had beaten the count. Finally, about a minute into the 15th and final round, Lopez hurt Ayala with a left hook and finished him off with a big right. It was a dramatic ending to a dramatic battle.
PERNELL WHITAKER VS. JULIO CESAR CHAVEZ
Date: Sept. 10, 1993
Records: Whitaker 32-1 (15 KOs), Chavez 87-0 (72 KOs)
Division: Welterweight (145-pound catch weight)
At stake: Whitaker’s WBC title
Result: Draw (115-113 Whitaker, 115-115, 115-115)
Background: Whitaker vs. Chavez was one of the most compelling matchups of the generation, the Nos. 1 (Chavez) and 2 (Whitaker) fighters in the world pound for pound and future Hall of Famers waging war in front of an estimated 65,000 spectators. The result was one of the most infamous robberies in boxing history. Whitaker took a few rounds to find his bearings and then took firm control of the fight with his superior speed and boxing ability. The 1984 Olympic gold medalist fought behind his wonderful jab, setting up sharp, accurate power shots and using perfect footwork to maintain distance advantageous to him. And even when Chavez managed to work his way inside, Whitaker held his own. The unbeaten Mexican star never stopped battling but the bottom line was that he’d met his match. Or so it seemed. One judge had Whitaker winning but the other two somehow scored it a draw, which was the final result. Chavez was spared his first lost at Whitaker’s expense.
Quote: “I’m glad we’ve got TV and millions of viewers watching this on
CANELO ALVAREZ VS. AUSTIN TROUT
Date: April 30, 2013
Records: Alvarez 41-0-1 (30 KOs), Trout 26-0 (14 KOs)
Division: Super Welterweight (154 pounds)
At stake: Alvarez’s WBC and Trout’s WBA titles
Result: Alvarez UD (118-109, 116-111 and 115-112)
Background: The gifted Alvarez, only 22 at the time, had already recorded some important victories by the time he met Trout. That included a unanimous decision over a somewhat diminished Shane Mosley two fights earlier. This fight was different, though. Alvarez’s handlers reportedly had reservations about their young, rising champion facing an opponent as good as the unbeaten Trout, a seasoned, durable all-around fighter who had yet to face defeat. Alvarez insisted. And the gamble paid off, as he lifted his already-formidable game to a new level to put Trout down in Round 7 and defeat him by a clear decision to unify two titles and take a significant step in his career. Of course, the redhead found himself in over his head in his very next fight – against Floyd Mayweather – but there is no shame in losing to an all-time great, especially given the loser’s age. Alvarez was well on his way to greatness.
Quote: "Austin Trout is a difficult fighter, but I was smart," Alvarez said. "Little by little I figured out how to fight him. I was able to connect with my right and my jab. My jab was key."
AZUMAH NELSON VS. JESSE JAMES LEIJA I
Date: Sept. 10, 1993
Records: Nelson (36-2-1, 25 KOs), Leija 26-0-1 (12 KOs)
Division: Super Featherweight (130 pounds)
At stake: Nelson’s WBC title
Result: Draw (118-112 Nelson, 115-113 Leija, 115-115)
Background: The great Nelson and Leija engaged in an epic four-fight series that kicked off in the fall of 1993 at the Alamodome, which happened to be in Leija’s hometown. Nelson, a 35-year-old from Ghana, was already a legend by this time. He burst upon the scene when he gave Salvdador Sanchez all he could handle in 1982 and went on to win three titles in two divisions in a Hall of Fame career. Leija, 27, was a rising star taking part in his first title fight. The battle was competitive but Nelson was awarded a split-decision victory. Initially. In a bizarre turn of events, officials realized that the scoring on the third card listed above was added up incorrectly and ruled the fight a draw. The fighters had three more chances to sort things out. Leija outpointed Nelson to win the WBC belt in 1994, lost it to his rival by a sixth-round knockout in 1996 and finally decisioned a soon-to-be-40-year-old Nelson once more in a lightweight bout where it all started, at the Alamodome.
JERMELL CHARLO VS. BRIAN CASTANO I
Date: July 17, 2021
Venue: AT&T Center
Records: Charlo 34-1 (18 KOs); Castano 17-0-1 (12 KOs)
Division: Super Welterweight (154 pounds)
At stake: Charlo’s IBF, WBA, WBC and Castano’s WBO titles
Result: Draw (117-111 Charlo, 114-113 Castano, 114-114)
Background: Some classics are fresh in our memories. Charlo, who held three major titles, and Castano, who had one, fought for the undisputed championship at the home of the San Antonio Spurs. And no one – except the fighters – was disappointed. Castano, well aware of the risk, wasn’t quite as busy as he normally is but the Argentine outworked Charlo most of the fight even though he was hurt in Round 2 to take a lead on the cards going into the championship rounds. Indeed, Charlo had some work to do if he hoped to emerge victorious. And he showed his championship mettle, raising his urgency and output to dominate Castano down the stretch. The Houston fighter, who hurt Castano again in Round 10, won the last three rounds on all three cards to salvage a split draw in a memorable war. Of course, that wasn’t the end the story. A better, more determined Charlo showed up for the rematch 10 months later, stopping his rival in 10 rounds to finally earn the moniker “undisputed.”
Quote: “My coach told me I need the knockout in the ninth round and I just knew he knew what he was talking about. I trust my coach,” Charlo said.
For a closer look at Vargas vs Foster, check out our fight night page.
- Vargas vs Foster