The newly-crowned IBF World featherweight champion Lee Selby (21-1, 8 KO’s) featured on this week’s edition of Sky Sports ‘Ringside Toe 2 Toe’ podcast to discuss his plans for the future, and what he makes of the other top competitors in his division.
“The plan really is to establish myself as IBF champion just like Gradovich[the man he dethroned] was; he was an established champion with five defences. I wanna do the same thing then in a year or two look at unification fights.”
Barring any hiccups throughout the course of making those defences, Selby will soon be faced with an unenviable conundrum as to whom he will challenge to unify his belt against. The three other belt holders in the 126.lb. class are Nicholas Walters (WBA Super), Vasyl Lomachenko (WBO) and Gary Russell Jr (WBC).
Walters and Lomachenko are viewed as the real danger men in the division and Selby was honest and forthright when assessing himself alongside both.
When asked whether he would like to test himself against the Ukrainian Lomachenko -who holds an unbelievable record of 4-1 with two title defences after an amateur career that will forever be etched in stone- he replied with a chuckle.
“Not really, no. I’m enjoying being champion. Down the line. Like I said I wanna establish myself as the IBF champion and then a fight with Lomachenko -as long as he keeps winning- that’s like a super fight down the line.”
An admission that he is perhaps not quite ready for someone of Lomachenko’s calibre is refreshing in this age of bombast and hyperbole. He would prefer to rack up a few defences, build his confidence and experience, and then take the biggest fights when he feels he is ready. It is difficult to argue with that sensible assessment.
After conceding status to Lomachenko, Selby revealed he feels quite differently about the big punching Jamaican Nicholas Walters. He admits the man who knocked out former pound-for-pound prince Nonito Donaire in last appearance has real power but feels he himself is superior in almost every other department.
“He’d knock a horse out if he hit em.’ With either hand, he’s extremely powerful, and a dangerous fight for anyone. One shot from him can change a fight and knock you out. But style-wise, I think my style beats him. I’m bigger, taller, faster; I’m a better technician. The only thing he got over me is power, but I’ve shown in fights before and in training I’ve got an exceptional chin, so I think I’d take his best shots.”
Selby has never even come close to getting wobbled at this point, but he also hasn’t come close to a banger like Walters either. We shall have to wait and see should they ever meet.
With the dream fight scenarios out of the way, the conversation turned to a domestic rival in British Commonwealth and European champion Josh Warrington (21-0, 4 KO’s).
His and Selby’s names are increasingly being mentioned together as their profiles grow and the world champion sees that fight as a realistic possibility in the near future, even going so far as to say he would be willing to go to Warrington’s hometown of Leeds to make it happen.
“This time next year, as long as he keeps winning and I keep defending my title successfully, it would make for a good fight. He has a big following and I’d be happy to go up to Elland Road; open air stadium show.”
To those unfamiliar with Josh Warrington and his legion of faithful followers, all you need to know is that the comparison with Ricky Hatton and his fans in the 2000’s is not a disingenuous one.
Warrington has siphoned off a big portion of the Leeds Football Club fanbase for his appearances and the Match-Day/Fight-Night schedule they keep, in which they drink and sing from dusk till dawn.
That means they are the rowdiest bunch around. If Warrington signed to fight at Leeds’ home ground Elland Road, that would be a new level of craziness.
Selby, in his calm unruffled way said, “If that’s where the money is it makes sense to work with. A bunch of screaming drunk men from Leeds don’t bother me. It’s only me and him in the ring and I know I’d knock him out.”
So there you have it; a new champion with skills to burn who recognises his need for improvement, but knows for himself he is not too far away from being considered one of the best at and around his weight. He has a savvy promoter in Eddie Hearn to guide his step, and as long as he establishes himself against quality opposition over the coming years who will develop him as a fighter, Wales and the UK as a whole could be looking at a long reign to come.