JOSE OCAMPO, the 23-year-old Filipino charged with the task of ending Ricky Burns' reign as World Boxing Organ-isation lightweight champion, clearly does not lack ambition and self-belief, judging by his declaration yesterday that he is ready to rub shoulders with compatriot Manny Pacquiao.
Ocampo, an unlikely choice as challenger in place of the injured Liam Walsh, given that he is ranked only No.14 in the world by the WBO, says he will be inspired by watching ring legend Pacquiao aspire to a third win over Mexican rival Juan Manuel Marquez this weekend.
He is delaying his arrival in Britain ahead of his bout with Burns at London's ExCel Arena on December 15 so he can watch Pacquiao notch up a possible 55th career win at Las Vegas' Grand Hotel on Saturday evening.
Loading article content
Ocampo was born in the Sarangani province where Pacquiao is the current congressman and says that his countryman will be too strong for Marquez in their showdown for a special "Fighter of the Decade" belt.
Pacquiao is undefeated in three contests against Marquez after their first meeting, in 2004, ended in a draw, and Ocampo said: "While Manny has got a tough fight, because Marquez is still a big threat, I can see him winning convincingly.
"I'll be watching the fight before travelling to London to finish my preparations for Burns and it would be fantastic for our country if we both won."
Burns, from Coatbridge, has the extra incentive of a probable unification bout against unbeaten American Adrien Broner – the World Boxing Council champion – to motivate him.
But Ocampo, who has a 17-5-1 record, says the champion is jumping the gun talking about a bout with Broner. "It's disrespectful of Burns to be looking beyond December 15 when I'll give him the hardest fight of his life," he added.
Burns-Ocampo headline a six-title card that features George Groves defending his Commonwealth super-middleweight crown against Glen Johnson as the chief support.
Commonwealth middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders will be in action against Nick Blackwell with the vacant British title also on the line on the BoxNation bill.
Unbeaten welterweight Kell Brook, meanwhile, is ready to fulfil a childhood dream having secured a world title shot against International Boxing Federation champion Devon Alexander.
The Sheffield fighter will take on the American in Las Vegas on January 19 after promoter Eddie Hearn successfully negotiated with Alexander's team.
Brook (29-0, 19 knock-outs) has manoeuvred himself into the mandatory challenger position with a series of solid wins over the past 18 months and gets his reward when he takes on champion Alexander in the United States.
"We're finally there," said the Yorkshireman. This is what I've dreamed of since I was nine years old – fighting for the world title. I can't wait to get in that ring, in America, and get that world title."