British Beat: A Viking Saga – Stephen Foster Jr. Defends European Title Against Ermano Fegatilli

Viking offspring will return to arms on Saturday as Stephen Foster Jr., the surprise winner of a European junior lightweight title in October, looks to repel Belgian raider Ermano Fegatilli in Bolton. The Salford man’s eyebrow-curling title triumph, a 3rd round levelling of Armenian-born puncher Levan Kirakosyan (a “Great Odin’s Raven” moment if ever there was one), finally allowed him to peek out from beneath the shadow of his old man, a rough and tumble 90’s cult figure and folk hero best remembered for a failed world title challenge on home turf against the more sophisticated Ronald “Winky” Wright.

Foster Sr. was a matchmaker’s dream – a value for money scrapper and prolific ticket seller, he managed to transform his bouts into regional events after he put the Viking nickname afforded to him by his drinking buddies to better use as a ring moniker. Foster’s army of supporters would spill into arenas sporting horned helmets and fur coats with the arms hacked off, no doubt to the chagrin of the female populace of Greater Manchester. It was a hell of a carnival, one which would sail him atop the high seas all the way to the Wright fight and to a systematic beat down, back when “Winky” spent a couple of semesters wiping out Britain’s cream at 154 lbs.

It’s hardly surprising that young Stephen followed his Pops into a sport which had permeated family life, only to be confronted with the all-knowing eyes which quickly had him marked as yet another watered down son of the father trading on his surname.

Foster ploughed his way around the circuit regardless, and went unbeaten through 22 outings until Scouser “Dirty” Derry Matthews threw a spanner in his works, routing him over twelve rounds on the undercard of Joe Calzaghe’s grueller with Sakio Bika. After a couple of easy comeback victories he then went down to highly-rated Scot Alex Arthur after a competitive struggle in Edinburgh. Another rebound gimme over professional loser Jason Nesbitt pre-empted a sabbatical which lasted one year, two months and 15 days during which he considered walking away from the sport altogether. Largely forgotten yet persuaded to give his career another try by trainer Maurice “Hard” Core, he clawed his way back into the limelight after a promotional switch gave him fresh impetus, culminating in the swashbuckling victory over Kirakosyan.

His mandatory challenger Fegatilli 22-4 (5) should provide a more straightforward assignment. His record indicates a modest-punching dance partner, one who has been feasting on easy prey of late. Since dropping a decision to German Vitali Tajbert in Dusseldorf, he’s put together eight wins on the spin against opposition with a combined record of 62-107-4. Yuck.

Foster is well favoured with bookmakers at 1/8 and whilst the form followers favour a stoppage victory, junior may have to settle for a unanimous thumbs up from the judges, one which can inch him ever closer to a bout with WBO titlist Ricky Burns.

The Hatton Promotions undercard features a pair of prospects worth keeping tabs on. The first, Richard Towers, a 6’8” ex-con who goes by the name of “The Inferno,” is arresting enough (pardon the pun), yet when one considers that he’s also a heavyweight-sized enigma from the notorious Ingle fight factory, things get a whole lot more whoa-like. He should encounter few problems in whacking out Sao Paolo’s Daniel Bispo.

The other, Joe Murray, is the younger brother of lightweight contender John, another climber from Joe Gallagher’s unstoppable Moston sweat shop. More of a long-range boxer than his pugnacious sibling, he still holds a frail look commensurate with his age, yet has talent to burn. He looks to have a good test ahead of him against tough Togo born Frenchman Daniel Kodjo Sassou, one which should allow him to parade his full repertoire as it stands at present.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ( He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.