- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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Lightweight titlist Ricky Burns, in need of a new opponent for the past two weeks after the withdrawal of Liam Walsh, got one Wednesday: Jose Ocampo of the Philippines, promoter Frank Warren announced.
Walsh (13-0, 10 KOs), of England, pulled out of the Dec. 15 fight at the Excel Arena in London after he suffered a minor back injury in a car accident and was told by his doctor to rest and not to train for a month.
Scotland's Burns (35-2, 10 KOs), 29, who will be making his third defense, is coming off a career-best victory Sept. 22, when he stopped England's Kevin Mitchell in the fourth round.
Burns is hoping a victory against Ocampo will lead him to a unification fight with American Adrien Broner, who defeated Antonio DeMarco by a lopsided eighth-round knockout to win a 135-pound belt Nov. 17.
The 23-year-old Ocampo (17-5-1, 12 KOs), fighting outside of the Philippines for the third time, is a massive long shot. He never has faced anyone close to being a top contender.
But Burns said he won't look past him.
"Filipino fighters are as tough as they come, just look at (Manny) Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire. Like the Mexicans and Africans, they come to have a fight, and Ocampo will do just that," Burns said. "If he fights like those two, as people say he does, then I'll be in for a tough night.
"It's unfortunate that Walsh had an accident and had to pull out of our fight, but I'm a world champion and I have to deal with these changes and I'm confident I'll deal with Ocampo. I'll let my trainer, Billy Nelson, do the homework and he'll come up with the master plan to beat this guy like he has done for all my big fights against Mitchell, (Michael) Katsidis and (Roman) Martinez."
Warren said it is always worrisome when a fighter has to change opponents late in his training.
"It's going to be hard for Ricky," Warren said. "He's been training to face Walsh and in an ideal world he would have had more time to prepare for the different style that Ocampo will bring. He can't afford to slip up, though. We are virtually there with the fight against Broner for next year and that will only happen if he comes through against Ocampo."
Also on the card, Commonwealth super middleweight champion George Groves (15-0, 12 KOs), 24, of England, will meet former light heavyweight world champion Glen Johnson (51-17-2, 35 KOs), 43, a Miami-based native of Jamaica who is ending a brief retirement.
Lightweight titlist Ricky Burns, in need of a new opponent for the past two weeks following the withdrawal of Liam Walsh, got one on Wednesday: Jose Ocampo of the Philippines, promoter Frank Warren announced.