Lee Selby insists that re-aligning with promoter Frank Warren is the final cog in his quest to secure universal recognition as the world’s leading featherweight.
‘The Welsh Mayweather’ from Barry makes a fourth defence of the IBF strap - that he captured in May 2015- at London’s Copper Box Arena this Saturday, knowing that a sizzling show will propel him into the big fights for big money.
‘Frank has got Josh Warrington and Carl Frampton so those fights should be easy to make and hopefully Scott Quigg can also hop on board so we can have a round robin. Everyone can make money and we’ll find out who’s the best,’ says the quiet 30 year old Welshman who meets unbeaten Mexican southpaw Eduardo Ramirez on a card that also features IBF Super-Middle boss James DeGale in world title action.
‘Ideally, I’d like to fight three times in 2018; three months to train for each fight, then a month off in between. I’d love to beat Warrington in Leeds, beat Frampton in Belfast then propel myself into a unification fight in the US.
Presently the 126lb division is white hot and world beater Selby is aware there are a few domestic scores that need settling before he can set his antennae on unification.
He continues: ‘Josh, Carl and Scott are all very good fighters with good qualities. Warrington has a good jab, a high work rate and he has to be decent to have stayed unbeaten and become mandatory challenger.
‘Carl darts in and out of range and judges distance very well for a relatively small guy. He’s experienced, well schooled and can punch. If I had a bad night he’d knock me out, no doubt. Quigg is fit and game, well seasoned.
‘But I bring something different. I believe my boxing ability is better than any of them and I can always find a way to win. I’ve an edge in class over all of them.
‘Frampton and Quigg might punch harder but I box far better, retain my focus, when I’m in with the big hitters. Besides, I’ve an iron chin. Power never worries me. Head shots never hurt me.
‘My style is all wrong for Warrington while Quigg lacks for head movement and doesn’t give enough thought as to what’s coming back at him. That’d play right into my hands.
‘Frampton’s the fight I want most because he’s the best known and a win over him would be a massive boost for my career. While I’d probably start favourite against the other two, I’d be even money or an underdog against Carl over in Belfast. But I believe I’d have too much class and ability.’
The rival world thrones are presently occupied by daunting trinity of Leo Santa Cruz (WBA), Gary Russell Jr (WBC) and Oscar Valdez (WBO), making the 126lbs division one of the most densely talented in the sport. But Selby refuses to be fazed by the competition.
‘They’re all very talented champions at the moment but I know that if I box to the best of my ability I can beat any featherweight in the world,’ he claims.
‘I’d say that Russell Jr is probably the best of the rest. He’s a hard punching southpaw with probably the fastest hands in boxing at any weight. Abner Mares (WBA ‘regular’ champ) is very experienced now, also darts in and out with fast bursts but my timing beats their speed.
‘I’ve already sparred a lot of rounds with Oscar Valdez at The Rock Gym over in LA. I’d be confident. He loads up a bit too much, tries to take your head off even when he’s jabbing. Though he’s a two time Olympian, he lacks the experience of the other belt holders as a pro.
‘Leo Santa Cruz is generally regarded as the best in the division and probably has the highest profile so he’s the one I’d most like to face. He’s good all round, brings a very high workrate but the secret is not to let him hit you. He can throw as many as he likes if they’re hitting fresh air. Victory over him would finally bring the recognition that I’m number one at 9st.’
James DeGale MBE (23-1-1, 14 KOs) tops an unmissable evening of boxing in the capital when he makes the fourth defence of his IBF Super-Middleweight World Title against American Caleb Truax (28-3-2, 18 KOs).