Ricky Burns knows he cannot underestimate the challenge posed by the little-known Jose Ocampo if he wants to earn a unification bout in 2013.
Burns’ trainer Billy Nelson has been trawling the globe for footage of the Filipino – a replacement for the injured Liam Walsh – ahead of the Scot’s WBO lightweight defence at London’s ExCel on 15 December.
Just two rounds have been found and studied, meaning Burns will have to adapt in the ring during the bout, which is to be screened live on BoxNation.
The 29-year-old from Coatbridge said: “I know he’s a southpaw, but that’s about it. Billy’s been struggling to get any footage of him at all. I’ll treat this fight the same as any other one. I’ll go out in the first round, see what he’s bringing to the table and then adjust my tactics to what he’s doing.
“It doesn’t really bother me. I don’t like to watch my opponents anyway. The way I fight, I’m good at adjusting to other people’s styles.”
Should he win for the 21st time in succession, Burns has been lined up for a unification fight with unbeaten American Adrien Broner, who secured the WBC lightweight title last month. Burns, who was a convincing victor over Kevin Mitchell in his last bout in September, added: “I just try to put it to the back of my mind. I’ve never, ever looked beyond any opponent so I’m not going to start doing it now.
“If I don’t go out there and win next week, the big fights aren’t going to happen. I know there is talk about it, I need to go out there and produce the goods next week for it to happen.”
Burns had been due to meet Walsh until the Norfolk-based fighter hurt his back in a road accident, with Ocampo, rated 14th in the world by the WBO, drafted in.
The 23-year-old has suffered five defeats but most of them came in his teenage years, and 12 of his 17 victories have come inside the distance.
Preparations at Nelson’s Fighting Scots gym in Lanarkshire have gathered pace since Ocampo was confirmed, with Burns sparring with undefeated super bantamweight Kid Galahad and Terry Flannigan, who recently won the Prizefighter lightweight tournament.
“He’s looking very sharp, he’s very fit, focused,” Nelson said of Burns. “It was difficult a few weeks ago when we never had an opponent but now he’s got an opponent he’s a lot more focused.”
The challenge for Nelson has been assessing Ocampo. “I’ve got a friend who has thousands upon thousands of DVDs of every fighter in the world,” Nelson said.
“Unfortunately, with Ocampo there’s only two rounds in the whole world. But every good champion can work out different styles and I’m sure Ricky will do likewise.
“He’s strong. He’s got a good left hand, but technique-wise Ricky Burns will beat him and power-wise Ricky will beat him.”
Burns remains grounded as the bout approaches, but has taken a temporary step back from his part-time job at a sports store in Coatbridge.
For those wondering why a world champion is working part-time in a sports store, the answer is simple. “I enjoy it,” he said. “Everybody that comes in the shop, I know who they are. Some of my pals and guys I train with work in there as well. It’s not really like work. It gives you something else to do apart from training all the time. It breaks the routine up, especially when you’re training for a fight.”