In front of a decent crowd at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, Lee Selby successfully defended his IBF World featherweight championship in his U.S. debut with an impressive victory over former three-division world champion Fernando Montiel on Wednesday.
The first round was a tentative one as Selby dictated the pace from the outside with his jab while Montiel tried to keep the English fighter honest with counter shots.
The veteran Montiel, though, outsmarted Selby as the champion gave away his height advantage, perhaps to make a statement, but ended up taking more punches than he probably expected.
Selby went southpaw as the second round commenced and cut the ring off effectively, utilizing his advantages in height and speed to land a series of combinations which sent Montiel backwards.
Montiel rallied in the final 10 seconds, but could do nothing more than clinch and land a punch behind the head.
Selby landed with an enormous right hand in the third, but Montiel stood his ground and continued to stand in front of his opponent.
Montiel did not have a chance to land much as Selby popped him with combinations throughout the round.
Montiel landed a glancing right hand in the fourth that got Selby’s attention and followed it up with a sharp left hand as he took advantage of the champion’s defensive flaws.
Selby managed to come back late in the round with a combination and a series of jabs, but Montiel had the better round.
Selby mounted up the pressure in the sixth as he unloaded combinations as if he were trying to fight off an army of gangsters, but one of the gangsters managed to cut Selby on the corner of his right eye during his fit of recklessness, and that was Montiel.
Suddenly, Selby’s legs froze as if he had never been in such a position before.
His corner, upset, had told him to box and move around the ring, but Selby went for the American style finish and got countered as if Montiel was a guerrilla fighter.
But Selby went back to boxing smart in the seventh and used the distance to keep Montiel away from him.
Montiel was trying to become the fourth Mexican in boxing history to win four world titles in as many weight classes, but his endurance eroded as the fight went on.
The eighth was a good round for Selby as he picked apart the charging Montiel with sharp combinations.
Although Montiel tied him up late in the round, again, he resorted to shots behind the head.
Selby was fresher, faster, stronger, and continued to dominate. It was a valiant effort from Montiel, but it was all for not.
The judges awarded Selby the unanimous decision with scores of 119-109, 118-110, and 116-112.
Selby improved his record to 22-1 with eight knockouts while Montiel dropped to 54-5-2 with 39 knockouts.
“My jab, reach and speed were my biggest advantages tonight. That was how I got the win.
“All the cuts I’ve had in my career have come against shorter fighters like (Montiel). When I got cut tonight in the 6th round, it was the same thing. I caught a head-butt.
“I was honestly disappointed in my performance tonight. I got the win, and it was a great feeling to get my first one on US soil. But the fans didn’t see me at my best, and a big part of that was Montiel’s experience. He’s a great fighter.”