Sebastian Fundora is called “The Towering Inferno” and Carlos Ocampo aims to be a one-man wrecking crew by razing the southpaw skyscraper to the ground.
Before boxing at 154 pounds at Dignity Health Sports Park on Saturday evening, the super welterweights stood toe-to-toe several times this week ahead of their Showtime-televised main event (7 p.m. PT).
During each staredown, Campo craned his neck to find Fundora’s eyes, which gazed back upon him from on high.
On Thursday, Fundora peered at Ocampo through a pair of glasses that made the 6-foot-6 WBC interim titleholder, fighting out of the Coachella Valley, seem more studious than vicious.
“Fundora doesn’t really generate any kind of intimidation or fear in me because I see him just like any other opponent,” said Ocampo, a 26-year-old native of Ensenada, Mexico.
By fighting the ascending Fundora (19-0-1, 13 KOs), Ocampo, winner of 12 consecutive contests at 154 since moving up one division following a first-round loss to Errol Spence Jr., in a 2018 welterweight title challenge, joins an expanding list of boxers tasked with an unfamiliar test.
Throughout his career Ocampo (34-1, 22 KOs), standing shy of 5-11, has not used very tall, left-handed sparring partners. But he undoubtedly needed to for this camp and had the good fortune of finding one.
“I felt like I did a great job,” Ocampo said. “The details of it you’ll be able to see on Saturday night.”
Freddy Fundora, The Towering Inferno’s trainer and father, scoffed at height-specific training adjustments making a bit of a difference.
“I know the guy he sparred with,” Freddy said. “It’s not (the same as fighting Sebastian).
Flanked by his wife Monique and their six children, including 20-year-old daughter Gabriela (8-0), who at 5-9 competes on Saturday’s undercard at flyweight, the Fundoras’ boxing love is a family affair.
The siblings’ height comes from their mother’s side, which includes some 7-footers. In the eighth grade, Sebastian was taller than most of his teachers. Soon he shot up to 6-5 and high school coaches unsuccessfully lobbied him to compete in basketball, track & field, and volleyball.
“They were going to make a volleyball team for me,” the 24-year-old fighter recalled. “I tried basketball for a month. I never ended up playing because I didn’t sign the parent’s form. I can’t dribble a ball. I can’t dunk. But I’ve been boxing my whole life. Basketball was something to go outside and play on a playground, not take serious.”
Boxing. The “hurting business,” Freddy called it. That’s serious.
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During Sebastian’s last appearance in the ring in April, the stick figure who barely cuts weight had to get off the deck for the first time in his professional career. Slender as he looks, Fundora showed his mettle by stopping Erickson Lubin two rounds later with a disabling uppercut.
The fact that Fundora fell, recovered and returned fire only increased Ocampo’s belief that he can be the one to demolish a young and unique talent featuring heavyweight height but a sapling’s trunk.
“He can hurt somebody but he also receives damage,” Ocampo said. “In a way that gives me more confidence that I can hurt him as much as he wants to hurt me.”
Closing in on his first world title shot, Fundora knows no one is untouchable.
“You’re going to get hit,” he said. “Whether you want to get hit hard or soft or not get hit at all, that depends on you. But I think my style is entertaining for the fans so it’s a plus-one for me. We’ll see what (Ocampo) displays. Mexican fighters want to go forward and want to bang.”