By Scott Gilfoid, first uploaded on Boxing News 24.
After 2 years as the IBF featherweight champion and zero meaningful fights, Lee Selby (25-1, 9 KOs) says he’s interested in facing Carl Frampton (23-1, 14 KOs) and he’s hoping that fight can get made by the end of the year.
Selby has had 4 record-padding fights since winning the IBF 126 lb. title in beating Evgeny Gradovich by a 12 round unanimous decision on May 30, 2015. After that fight, Selby said he wanted to get some voluntary defenses under his belt before he eventually went after the big names. Little did anyone know that Selby would chew up 2 years of his career beating the likes of Fernando Montiel, Eric Hunter, Andoni Gago and Jonathan Victor Barros. None of those guys are anywhere close to being as good as the top guys in the featherweight division, and it’s somewhat saw that Selby threw away 2 good years of his career feasting on those easy marks.
Selby is now 30, which is not young for the featherweight division, and he has nothing to show for his 2 years as the International Boxing Federation strap holder. Selby wants Frampton or WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. Selby also figures to face the winner of the Josh Warrington vs. Dennis Ceylan fight If none of those fights happen, Selby says he’ll move up to super featherweight to start campaigning in that weight class. That probably won’t be a good move for Selby, as he’s arguably little more than a feather duster at 126.
If Selby goes up to 130 in the near future, his lack of punching power will be even more of a hindrance to his chances of success in that weight class. Believe me; there are no Gradovich type easy marks for Selby to win a paper title against. There’s nothing but solid fighters with power as far as the eye can see, and I suspect Selby would be dealt with a major blow to his boxing career if he makes the move to that weight class. He could end up losing repeatedly and having to move back down to featherweight.
”We’re trying to make the Frampton fight and that’s the fight I want, or the likes of Gary Russell Jr.,” said Selby to ESPN.com. ”From what I know my management have spoken to Al Haymon and it’s the fight I want and I believe it’s the fight Carl Frampton wants too.”
I have a hard time believing Selby would actually fight a talent like Gary Russell Jr. I just don’t see that happening. Not only is Russell Jr. all wrong for Selby, but he’s not someone that the British boxing public will get excited about. The fans want to see Selby take on the likes of Frampton and Warrington, not Russell Jr. Selby would lose BADLY to Russell Jr. if that fight got made, which is why I think he’s just flapping his gums about being interested in the American.
When push comes to shove, I don’t see Selby getting within 3000 miles of Russell Jr. He’s too good. Selby is better off trying his best to get fights against Frampton and/or the winner of the Warrington-Ceylan fight. Warrington will probably beat Ceylan, so he could be next in line for Selby if the fight against Frampton doesn’t get made. Warrington is a very winnable fight for Selby. He would have a lot of advantages over him. I don’t know if Selby can get a decision over Warrington in Leeds, but I think he can beat anywhere else without any problems.
“I don’t think Frampton will be on Oct 28 because it’s a headline fight in its own way and maybe it can be done on neutral ground, like the O2 in London where you could seat 20,000,” Selby said.
Selby is starting to sound a little bit desperate with the way he’s mentioning multiple fighters he’s hoping to face next. That’s not a good sign. When you start rattling off a mess of fighters that you want to fight next but not sure you can get them, it tells me that you lack the popularity to be able to get the guys to fight you.
The way I see it, Selby has an ugly style of fighting which is hard on the eye, and sleep inducing. Selby is too crafty and safety first for his own good. Those type of fighters often lack large fan bases because they don’t mix it up enough to make it exciting for the boxing fans that take the time to watch some of their fights. If Selby would stand in the pocket and slug it out a little bit more like Frampton and Oscar Valdez, then maybe he’d have an easier time getting the top guys to fight him. I’m just saying. That ugly safety first style of fighting that Selby has is not thrilling sometimes to watch. Selby’s fights get interesting when his opponents finally pin him to the ropes and start working him over, but then he grabs them in a clinch and the brief bit of excitement is done. Once the referee separates Selby and his opponents, he goes back to boxing them from the outside and avoids any real exchanges.
Selby complains that the different fighters like Russell Jr., Abner Mares and Leo Santa Cruz name drop his name occasionally, but then they don’t try and fight him. Selby might see that as them avoiding him, but the reality is he lacks the name recognition to be worth fighting. I mean, just because Selby is a world champion doesn’t mean he’s a viable star. There are tons of belt holders in boxing that the casual and hardcore boxing fans know little about. Selby has done zero to make himself a bigger name since he won the IBF 126 lb. title 2 years ago.
Selby said he was going to get some title defenses under his belt after he won his IBF strap, and he wasn’t kidding. He defended against largely weak opposition instead of going after the big names at featherweight. Unfortunately in boxing, you get what you put into your career. If you play it safe and milk your title, as we’ve seen from Selby, then you wind up with nothing and you’re left bellyaching about fighters not showing interest in facing you.
Selby is technically a world champion, but I rate him at this level:
1. Gary Russell Jr.
2. Leo Santa Cruz
3. Carl Frampton
4. Joseph Diaz Jr.
5. Scott Quigg
6. Abner Mares
7. Lee Selby
Selby is a good top 10 guy at featherweight, but he’s far away from the top of the pack in the division when it comes to actual talent in my view. What holds Selby back is his lack of punching power. He simply doesn’t hit hard enough for him to be considered as the best or even the fifth best fighter at featherweight.
My opinion of Selby will be proven correct as soon as he gets inside the ring with the likes of Frampton or Russell Jr. Those guys will obliterate him no matter what he does. I’d like to hope that Selby will stand and make a fight of it, because always looks better when a champion goes down swinging in looking like a hero than when he slinks away from the heat of battle and tries to spoil his way to a win. Selby needs to go down swinging when he gets in there with Frampton and whoever of quality he winds up facing before his boxing career implodes.