Spence to defend title at home in Texas vs Mexico's Ocampo
FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Errol Spence Jr. wanted to defend his IBF crown back home in Texas as soon as possible after taking the title from Kell Brook in the Englishman's hometown a year ago.
The 2012 U.S. Olympian gets that chance Saturday night against Mexico's Carlos Ocampo in a mandatory defense between undefeated fighters. Spence's second fight as a champion will be the first title bout in the 12,000-seat football stadium that is the indoor practice field for the Dallas Cowboys at team headquarters 30 miles north of Dallas.
"I feel like I've definitely earned this hometown fight," said Spence, who grew up in DeSoto, a suburb south of Dallas. "To go to another country and fight a champion in his hometown, and to win the belt, I think I deserve to defend my belt in front of my fans."
Spence (23-0 with 20 knockouts) won his first defense in the 147-pound division against Lamont Peterson in January in New York. The fight was stopped in the eighth round — Spence's 10th straight knockout.
Ocampo (22-0, 13 KOs), fighting professionally outside his home country for the first time, is largely an afterthought amid talk of Spence taking on other welterweight champions. Keith Thurman holds two titles, and Terence Crawford just took the WBO crown from Jeff Horn nearly a year after Horn beat Manny Pacquiao.
"That's what other people talk about," Spence trainer Derrick James said. "When we come to the gym, we talk about Carlos Ocampo. We never look past the guy. He's a very dangerous opponent. He's coming to upset, to be the wild card, to do exactly what we did to Kell Brook."
This is the second of what the 28-year-old Spence figures will be three fights in 2018. It's also his first as a co-promoter with his new company, Man Down Promotions — another reason that putting on a show is at least part of the story line while Spence tries to keep the focus on winning first.
"Don't try to do anything out of the norm," Spence said. "Don't try to do anything different just because I'm fighting at home or try to go for the quick knockout. There's really nothing he can do as long as I'm focused and as long as I stay true to my own game."
The 22-year-old Ocampo was a two-time silver medalist at the Mexican Olympiad, an amateur tournament. His pro victories includes bouts against former world title challengers Jorge Paez Jr. and Charlie Navarro. Ocampo's most recent win was a seventh-round stoppage against Dario Ferman in November.
"It's supposed to be tough with the crowd against me and I know I'm the underdog, but my mind is only on the fight," Ocampo said. "I'm just fighting one man, not a whole crowd."
The undercard includes Daniel Roman facing Moises Flores in a super bantamweight fight and former champion Javier Fortuna against Adrian Granados in a 10-round bout at 140 pounds.