By Anthony "Zute" George
Errol Spence Jr. takes on Carlos Ocampo, a heavy underdog, Saturday night in Texas. There is plenty at stake, least of all Spence’ IBF Welterweight Championship. It is the kind of fight that boxing fans and pundits view as a ‘tune up’ fight, as dream fights against Terrence Bud Crawford or the Danny Garcia/Shawn Porter appear to be on the horizon. We can lick our chops waiting for such fights, but can Spence Jr. afford to look passed Ocampo?
Like Spence Jr. (23-0, 20 KO’s), Ocampo is an undefeated pugilist (22-0, 13 KO’s). The similarities stop there. While Spence Jr. had to travel to the United Kingdom for his toughest test, against Kell Brook, Ocampo has not set foot out of Mexico during his boxing career. Saturday will be the first time Carlos Ocampo will compete on foreign soil. The fact that he draws Spence Jr., perhaps the most talented fighter in the world today, in what is essentially a hometown fight for him, does not speak well for Ocampo’s chances. That, boxing fans, is The Truth.
The biggest question is can Ocampo fight? An insider once told me that Team Spence climbs mountains to avoid matching the very talented southpaw against big punchers. Spence has been hit in his fights, and has no signs of having a weak chin, however, if you look at his resume, Spence has faced good to very good competition, but he has not exactly been matched up with guys who can really crack. Ocampo’s knockout percentage is not stellar, so it appears as if the trend continues. Watching Ocampo on film, I do not think Team Spence has much to worry about in the power department.
With that said, Ocampo does not present as the prototypical Mexican fighter. He is a long fighter, who fights tall and uses lateral movement well. He can also figure things out when he is backing up. Indeed, if Ocampo does have the typical Mexican chin, this could be a long fight for Spence Jr.
And indeed, Ocampo will have his chin tested.
Not only is Spence Jr. a wonderful offensive fighter, Ocampo has a bad habit of keeping his head straight up in the air when his opponents close distance. Also, Carlos does not appear to be well versed in tying his opponent up. Instead of using his long attributes to try and tire his opponent out when they get inside; see any Muhammad Ali fight, Ocampo invites his foes to tee off on him and then tries to fight backing up. It is unlikely that Ocampo can control distance against Spence Jr., therefore this fight will be determined by the Ocampo chin.
Assuming we do not have the biggest upset of the last decade, the anticipation of an Errol Spence Jr. vs. Terrence Bud Crawford Superfight will begin right after this fight (it already has in reality). Crawford entered the welterweight party by dominating the very overrated Jeff Horn. Will Spence Jr. feel pressure to ‘out do’ Crawford Saturday night? I have found out that Terrence Crawford will be in attendance Saturday night.
Either way, I do not think that we will see Spence vs. Crawford fight anytime soon. While is it probably in everyone ‘s top two of anticipated fights, and the timeline for Spence vs. Crawford makes perfect sense, the boxing powers that be will figure out a way to keep it from us.
In the process, they will try to convince us it is in our best interests (‘let the fight marinate’) and insult us at the same time, you know, we do not know zilch about the boxing business. The more likely fight for Spence will be against the winner of the Danny Garcia vs. Shawn Porter fight.
Which is a solid consolation prize. But boxing fans should not tolerate Spence and Crawford coexisting in the same division, without trying to punch each other in the face, for much longer.
Both fighters can do one more fight; as I think Crawford will fight the Manny Pacquiao vs. Lucas Matthysse winner, or perhaps Egidijus Kavaliauskas next.
After that, we need to put the pressure on to make Spence vs. Crawford happen.
First, Spence Jr. has to beat an untested, yet skilled opponent. Even if Ocampo is at his best and Spence at his worst, it is hard to imagine Spence losing.
But Ocampo does have enough skills to give Spence some fits and extend the fight. And that is the drama of this fight. How will Spence win? Will he be able to knockout an undefeated Mexican Cutie?
Probably so. We all should have fun finding out.
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