Carlos Ocampo has magically appeared in the WBO rankings just in time to fight for an interim title.
Approval was granted for Mexico’s Ocampo to challenge for Tim Tszyu’s interim WBO junior middleweight title, per a resolution reached by the sanctioning body on Tuesday. The order came exactly one week after Tszyu’s team confirmed the upcoming fight, which is scheduled to take place June 18 at Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre in the Gold Coast suburb of Broadbeach, Queensland, Australia.
The bout will be the last stay busy fight approved for Tszyu; the winner will be ordered to next challenge for the main title held by undisputed champion Jermell Charlo (35-1-1, 19KOs) by no later than September 30.
“Please be advised that the WBO World Championship Committee hereby grants sanction approval for the subject
Matter,” WBO Championship Committee chairman Luis Batista-Salas told Tszyu’s promoter, Matt Rose of No Limit Boxing, in an official letter obtained by BoxingScene.com. “Sanction approval is granted subject to the following provisions:
- (i) the winner must face in his next bout the WBO Jr. Middleweight Champion no later than September 30, 2023;
- (ii) the winner must be available, ready, willing, and able to face in his next bout the WBO Jr. Middleweight Champion within the above referenced period;
- (iii) if the winner is not available to fight in his next bout the WBO Jr. Middleweight Champion regardless the reasons or circumstances, the WBO World Championship Committee shall proceed pursuant to the WBO Regulations of World Championship Contests; and
- (iv) the Committee reserves the right to issue all further rulings deemed necessary, helpful, and convenient to accomplish the purposes, policies, and intent of the WBO rules, including, but not limited to rendering all rulings necessary to serve the best interests in the sport of professional boxing, including those in the WBO Jr. Middleweight Division.
Ocampo (34-2, 22KOs) was not ranked at the time of the announced clash with Tszyu (22-0, 16KOs). A petition was filed by No Limit to have the Mexican boxer enter the WBO top 15 despite having lost his last fight. The request was approved, as Ocampo is now ranked number-eleven by the Puerto Rico-headquartered organization.
Former WBO junior middleweight titlist Brian Castano was removed from the rankings to make room for Ocampo. Castano’s removal was justified; he has not fought since a title reign-ending knockout defeat to Charlo in their full unification rematch last May 14 in Carson, California.
Tszyu served as the mandatory challenger at the time and has patiently waited for his shot at the crown. He was due to face Charlo on January 28 in Las Vegas. However, the championship clash was canceled after Charlo suffered a broken hand injury in training camp last December.
The delay allowed Tszyu to challenge for the interim WBO 154-pound title, which he claimed in a ninth-round knockout of former WBC titlist Tony Harrison (29-4-1, 21KOs) on March 12 in Sydney. The upcoming interim title defense versus Ocampo marks the second straight on home soil for the 28-year-old Tszyu, a second-generation boxer from Rockdale.
He’d previously spent his entire career in Australia before making his U.S. debut in a twelve-round win over former title challenger Terrell Gausha last March 26 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The fight was his first under the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) banner, which was supposed to ease the transition towards challenging for the world title.
Circumstances beyond his control have instead allowed Tszyu to return home, where he has long served as a top gate attraction. His upcoming fight versus Ocampo will mark his first in Queensland since his August 2020 annihilation of former WBO welterweight titlist Jeff Horn, a win which took his career to new heights.
The son of Hall of Fame former undisputed 140-pound king Kostya Tszyu is now eager to land a championship of his own but for now settles for his second fight in three months.
Ocampo enters his second straight interim title fight, despite having lost his last outing. The trip Down Under will mark his first career fight outside of The Americas through eleven years as a pro. The 27-year-old from Ensenada, Baja California was last seen giving it a go in a twelve-round defeat to then-unbeaten interim WBC junior middleweight titlist Sebastian Fundora last October 8 in Carson, California. The setback snapped a twelve-fight win streak, all at junior middleweight after a first knockout loss to Errol Spence in their June 2018 welterweight title fight.
With a win, Tszyu will remain at the head of the line for a shot at Charlo for all of the 154-pound hardware.
Charlo has not fought since the aforementioned win over Castano. Given the ruling on Tuesday, it appears that he will not be afforded a “get-back” fight before having to face the Tszyu-Ocampo winner.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox