Lee Selby makes successful IBF title defence after tough Montiel battle

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Welshman Lee Selby retained his IBF world featherweight title after a tough fight against Mexican veteran Fernando Montiel in Phoenix, Arizona.

Selby, 28, was given a unanimous points verdict after a gruelling 12 rounds in his United States debut, the judging scoring it 119-109, 118-110 and 116-12 in his favour.

With a red dragon flag at ringside, Selby began positively but his corner had cause for concern following a mid-bout burst from 36-year-old Montiel.

Fortunately for the champion's sake, he was able to take the sting out of the counter-attack and enforce greater control over the closing rounds, leaving it to the judges to confirm he would retain the belt.

Montiel made a habit of finishing rounds strongly, but the judges were not persuaded his overall impact was enough.

Selby had found his range by the third round, landing two big punches that clearly jolted his opponent, particularly a right hand to the Mexican's face.

Just when he was looking dominant though, Selby's level dipped, the Briton going ragged in a sixth round that Montiel controlled.

Montiel, the shorter man at 5ft 4in, was giving up four and a half inches in height to Selby but for two to three rounds he was throwing the heavier, more purposeful punches.

He could not keep up the momentum though, with Selby back in charge by the eighth round, and come the ninth an eight-year age gap between the pair looked to be telling, as Montiel faded.

Selby hit the canvas in the 10th round, but it was nothing more than a slip, and he remained in control of his destiny heading to the 12th. Montiel, a former three-weight world champion, required a knock-down but, like Selby, looked ready to leave the judges to deliver their verdict.

The score from the first two judges looked distinctly generous, with the third decision better reflecting a contest Selby was glad to get out of the way.

It meant the first defence of the title he won in London in May, beating Russian Evgeny Gradovich, was secure.

Another defence could come against Leeds fighter Josh Warrington next year.

Selby has expressed a strong interest in making that all-British battle happen.

Commonwealth champion Warrington said he would welcome such a fight, and claimed he had noted a host of weaknesses in Selby's performance against Montiel.

"I've got three pages down here, I've been writing down quite a bit," Warrington said on Sky Sports. "I've been saying for the last couple of years that there's things we could probably do, if it works or not who knows, but we believe we're ready to beat him.

"I've got to keep on winning and hope he keeps champ and then it could pay off."

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