Lee Selby’s dreams of becoming a two-weight world champion were dealt a heavy blow in Argentina after losing to Gustavo Lemos on Saturday night.
The Welshman travelled to South America to square off in an IBF final eliminator with the winner in line to get a shot at champion George Kambosos Jr.
Selby, now 35, made a promising start at the Estadio Luna Park in Buenos Aires but the power and crippling body shots from Lemos ended matters in the fifth round.
A former IBF featherweight champion Selby has campaigned at 135lbs for the last three years picking up wins against Omar Douglas and Ricky Burns. In October 2020 he lost a split-decision to Kambosos in an eliminator which set the Australian up to go on and dethrone Teofimo Lopez in New York. With the lightweight division now bubbling with existing and emerging world class fighters, it’s hard to see where Selby goes from here.
‘Lightning’ made a professional start against Lemos. The left arm was put out to measure the range and the jab followed up. It should have given the Argentinian something to ponder but Lemos paid no respect to what was in front of him. The opening session was a clear indicator of the home fighter’s tactics. Seek and destroy.
Selby was always on the move looking to avoid the pressure that got ramped up with each round. Lemos was digging to the body and looking to make it as uncomfortable as possible for the man from Barry. Success came at the end of the second when Selby let his hands go with visible success, but Lemos walked back to his corner showing no signs of pain or trouble.
An early combination from Selby in the third wasn’t accurate which raised a smile from the menacing Lemos. A problem emerged however in the shape of a cut to the left eye of Lemos. The blood merely whetted his appetite for destruction even more.
The fourth round was tough for Selby to endure. Body punches were to be his downfall. A high energy combination had the former champion unravelling and any good work he had carried out disappeared into the night. Selby used his experience to hold on but soon had to take a knee after
one punch too many to the mid-section. He was suffering but had survived the nightmare round.
Selby began the 5 th pawing out the jab like lifeless prey looking to fend off its hungry beast. Lemos could smell the end. The body was the target once more. A left landed before a punch to the back of the head had the away fighter down for a second time. There were still two and a half minutes to go.
Ninety seconds later and Selby was on the ropes. Lemos wailed away and wouldn’t stop until his opponent yielded. The proud Welshman was on the floor again, but this time referee Mario Gonzalez had seen enough and put his arm across the chest of the beaten man to save him from himself.
On a night when Jeremia Nakathila punched years on to Miguel Berchelt at lightweight Gustavo Lemos arrived as another big-hitting problem for the division. As for Selby his elusiveness and silky skills that helped maintain his run as IBF featherweight champion eluded him tonight.
After a 14-year career attention will now turn to whether he should retire or not.