WBO lightweight holder Ricky Burns is to face Jose Ocampo of the Philippines on Dec 15 in London, where he will aim to complete a hat-trick of title defenses inside nine months.
The Scottish star, 29, was slated to meet Englishman Liam Walsh on that date at the Dockland’s ExCeL Arena before injuries sustained in a car crash two weeks ago forced the challenger to withdraw.
Now 23-year-old Ocampo (17-5-1, 12 knockouts) has agreed to fill the void against Burns, who will be a massive odds-on favorite to retain the belt and set up a possible unification showdown with new WBC titleholder Adrien Broner in 2013.
But Burns (35-2, 10 KOs), a former junior lightweight beltholder, is refusing to take anything for granted or his opponent lightly.
“I’d say this is the hardest fight of my career against a young, hungry challenger who is looking to take my title,” said THE RING’s No. 4 at 135 pounds. “Filipinos are as tough as they come – just look at Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire. If he fights like those two, which they say he does, I’m in for a tough night.”
Burns’ promoter, Frank Warren, echoed that view while confirming that a big-money bout with American Broner (25-0, 21 KOs) awaits the man from Glasgow if he beats Ocampo.
“He can’t afford any slip up. We are virtually there with the fight against Broner next year and that will only happen if he comes through against Ocampo,” said Warren.
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