By Keith Idec
The IBF seemingly made Errol Spence Jr.’s decision on his next opponent for him.
According to a story posted by ESPN.com on Tuesday, the New Jersey-based sanctioning organization has ordered Spence to make a mandatory defense of his IBF welterweight title against Carlos Ocampo.
Mexico’s Ocampo is untested against championship-caliber competition, but the 22-year-old contender is 22-0, including 13 knockouts. Ocampo is ranked No. 3 by the IBF among its 147-pound contenders, but the top two spots are vacant, which makes Ocampo the leading available contender for the mandatory defense Spence is due to make.
The IBF will allow promoter Tom Brown and Zanfer Promotions, which represents Ocampo, until February 22 to reach a deal for the Spence-Ocampo match. If they can’t come to an agreement, the IBF will order a purse bid.
Spence faced an optional opponent in the first defense of his IBF welterweight title Saturday night. The powerful southpaw from DeSoto, Texas, tore through former two-division champion Lamont Peterson in that bout, which Showtime televised from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
The 28-year-old Spence overpowered Peterson, battered him to the body and head, dropped him in the fifth round and forced Peterson’s trainer, Barry Hunter, to stop their scheduled 12-round fight just as the eighth round started.
Spence said following his superb performance that he would like to return to the ring in May or June, preferably in or near Dallas. DeSoto is a suburb of Dallas and Spence has talked about boxing in his home area since he traveled to Kell Brook’s hometown of Sheffield, England, where he knocked out Brook (36-2, 25 KOs) in the 11th round to win his title May 27.
The 2012 Olympian ultimately wants a welterweight title unification fight against WBA/WBC champ Keith Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs, 1 NC). Thurman, of Clearwater, Florida, has indicated, however, that he won’t consider facing Spence until sometime in 2019.
Ocampo is unknown to American fight fans.
He has boxed only in Mexico since making his pro debut in July 2012. In his last fight, Ocampo stopped fellow Mexican Dario Ferman (14-4, 11 KOs) in the seventh round November 11 in Chihuahua, Mexico.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.