Lee Selby’s chances of becoming the first ever two-weight world champion from Wales have been given a boost.
The former IBF featherweight champion is set to face Argentina’s unbeaten 25-year-old Gustavo Lemos in a final eliminator with the winner to challenge George Kambosos Jr for his world lightweight titles.
Sanigar Events, who manage Selby, made the announcement yesterday (Tuesday) that the International Boxing Federation’s two current highest contenders, Lemos (ranked 3) and Selby (ranked 4) would contest the final eliminator. Number two contender Isaac Cruz challenges Gervonta Davis for his WBA Regular title this weekend while Kambosos has went from number one contender to the man to beat following his stunning win over Teofimo Lopez last weekend.
“I’m very happy and looking forward to beating this guy [Lemos] and challenging for the world title again,” said Selby when speaking to Boxing Social on Wednesday.
“I’ve been watching the ratings and where the IBF have put me after the fights, and they obviously watched the fight back and bumped me back up to the top.”
The ‘fight’ Selby refers to is his split decision loss to Kambosos at Wembley Arena in October 2020. Whoever came through that bout victorious would go on to challenge Lopez for his world titles. And on Saturday night from Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theatre the boxing world watch in awe as Kambosos dropped Lopez in round 1, climbed off the canvas himself in the 10th before having his hand deservedly raised after 12 dramatic rounds.
Selby admitted he didn’t watch the fight of the year candidate.
“I sort of flicked through it and watched the highlights. I didn’t watch the full fight. It looked like he did a good job from what I’ve seen.
“I wasn’t overly surprised [he won] because it’s boxing, and anything can happen.”
Boxing Social asked Selby if it hurt to watch Kambosos go on and become the new top dog at lightweight given how close their fight was.
“No. Not really,” he answered. “Not being cruel but I don’t really care about what other fighters are doing. In boxing you have to be very selfish.”
Selby wasn’t being blunt, in fact if you spend some time talking to him you quickly realise, he has a dry sense of humour and doesn’t appear to take too much seriously other than his family and his career. However, give him a subject that engages him, and he will happily answer it at length. For instance, his fight against Kambosos. When Selby spends some time speaking about it you get the impression, he sees it as the one that got away. Before that though we asked if he thought the Australian was world championship material having already boxed him for 12 rounds.
“No,” he says.
To the fight instead then.
“I haven’t really watched it back. During the fight I just thought it was easy. I didn’t think I was getting caught by any shot because he had no power. I kept it basic, behind the jab. He was quite deceiving though in front of me, and I felt like if I let my right hand go, I was going to get countered with the right uppercut which I seen he was throwing in previous fights.
“I thought I was winning the fight, I just stuck to the basics but then looking back I didn’t give it enough. I left the ring; I weren’t out of breath. I had a lot more left in me to give. I played it too safe which I’ve done in a few of my recent fights.”
Selby’s highlight reel knockouts over John Simpson and Stephen Smith, respectively, were 10 years ago and displayed the punching power and nastiness that may have left him. As the levels go up, however, turning in such devastating performances can become few and far between. Should Selby face Kambosos once again then he insists he will do things differently. Playing it safe won’t even cross his mind.
“I’d just let my hands go like I did in my earlier fights. I’d roll back the years and give it to him,” Selby says.
Having a world title again and entering the history books as the first Welshman to become a two-weight world champion produced a smile across Selby’s face when he talked about it. There is no doubt this is a target of his.
“It would mean everything. It would be the icing on the cake of my career. It’s worth more than any money to write myself into the history books to be the first and only two-weight world champion from Wales.”
By the time such an opportunity comes around he will have reached 35 years of age, possibly even 36 depending on how boxing politics treats him. Yet he tells us and anyone else who may ask him that he hasn’t thought about when he may bring his career to a close.
“People ask me [about that] or how many fights you’ve got left. I find it quite insulting. Not from you, you’re okay, just some of the general public. They think I’ve got one big fight left or one more payday, but I don’t see it like that. I still feel young. Still haven’t really had hard fights. I still feel like I do when I was 15.”
And finally, does he have a message for his old foe Kambosos?
“No. That’s not my style. Although Kambosos would say different if you asked him about fighting me again.”