As a keen boxing fan is who reveling in the current renaissance of British boxing I keep a close eye on the up and coming domestic fighters whose talent will ensure the revival of the sport on our shores continues.
27-year-old Lee Selby certainly fits the bill as fighter who is flying the flag for British boxing. Along with the likes of George Groves and Callum Smith, Selby is one of the diamonds in the pack of young British fighters who will be hoping to soon set the heather alight on the world stage.
Since his knockout victory over Steven Smith in 2011-where he won the British and Commonwealth featherweight titles, I have followed Selby’s precipitous rise through the ranks gather pace to point where he is now on the cusp of a world title shot. Selby, who is currently the European and British featherweight champion, has clearly outgrown the domestic scene and now has set his sights firmly on world domination.
After his classy and accomplished victory over a typically tough and durable Mexican challenger, Romulo Koasicha, in a WBC International title eliminator, edging one step closer to fulfilling his lifetime ambition of becoming a world champion.
There is no doubt about it, Selby is the real deal. He is man who is utterly devoted to his craft and he is hoping his dedication to the sport he loves will soon pay dividends. Selby lives and breathes boxing, and when I talked to him he gave the impression of man who will stop at nothing until he has a world championship belt wrapped around his waist.
In an exclusive interview with GMS, I asked him about his world title intentions, and whether he feels he is ready to make the step up to elite level.
Selby stated, “I would like to have one or two more fights against high ranked opponents before challenging for a world title”
“I am the highest ranked by the WBC so that is the route I'll most probably take. I need to work on my defence before going in with Jhonny Gonzales- the current WBC featherweight champion- as he is a really big puncher!”
He is indeed, and Selby is perfectly correct when he says he will need to improve on the defensive aspect of his game before taking on the big punching Mexican veteran Gonzales, who shocked the boxing world when he wiped out former three-division world champion Abner Mares in one round to win the featherweight title.
However, on the rare occasion Selby’s chin gets tested he has shown excellent punch resistance and impeccable powers of recovery.
But Gonzales is a totally different animal to anything Selby has faced: it would be a real acid for the Welshman, and he knows it. Gonzales is a destructive puncher and Selby would have to adopt a strict game plan and employ all of his pure boxing skills to emerge victorious against the Mexican warrior. Yet someone like Selby, who possesses such accomplished ring acumen and polished boxing skills, has the capacity to overcome a brawler like Gonzales over the championship distance.
When I quizzed him on how he would approach a fight with Gonzales, Selby echoed similar sentiments to myself when he stated, “I'd warm into the fight, try and not get caught with anything silly early on and try to out box him. Then I would pick up the pace later on in the fight”
However, Selby is highly ranked by all the sanctioning bodies at featherweight and he could pursue other paths in his quest to become a world champion at 126lb’s. For instance, former Ukrainian amateur star, Vasyl Lomachenko, will soon fight for the vacant WBO featherweight title against the undefeated Gary Russell Jr, in a bout scheduled for the 21st June, at the Stub Hub Center, California, USA. The victor of that contest could be a potential opponent for Selby.
Selby is not one to shy away from a challenge and he is under no illusions that every fight now will be a step up in competition. Yet he remains undaunted by the task ahead and stated, “I am happy to fight anybody at featherweight. I've never chosen an easier opponent rather than a tough one. I just want to be the best, and to do so I have to try and beat the best.”
Described by many as quiet and assuming away from the sport, Selby comes alive in the ring. So expect his fists to do the talking when he gets his long awaited shot at a world title.
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