Lee Selby talks to Umbreen Khan about his crucial clash with Ricky Burns this Saturday
Ahead of his cross-roads clash with Ricky Burns this Saturday, Lee Selby has acknowledged he doesn’t simply want to win, but he must emerge victorious to keep his career going. The former IBF featherweight champion, something of a veteran now at 32, took a big leap earlier this year, jumping up two weight-classes after the loss of his belt to Josh Warrington. Lose at the O2 to ex-three-weight king Burns, on the excellent Regis Prograis vs Josh Taylor undercard, and it could all be for nothing.
“To be honest I just take each fight as it comes,” the Barry stylist told me at the public workouts. “I look after myself, I live a clean life so I could go on a few more years and just see how it goes. It’s difficult to leave boxing once you get into it, I’ve been doing it from a young age, from eight years of age, I think it would be difficult to just stop and walk away so I might go into coaching or something along them lines.
“But it’s a must-win fight, like [show promoter] Eddie Hearn said earlier, the loser will struggle to come back from it.”
It’s a crucial clash indeed, and one in which Burns is the more natural lightweight, having competed in the division or the one above for the past eight years, enjoying an impressive WBO title reign, ended only by pound-for-pound contender Terence Crawford. Selby, however, is just glad he can fuel himself adequately now, having found making weight while retaining strength an increasingly challenging task down at 126lbs.
“It’s a big difference, now I’m drinking like four litres of water a day leading up to the fight whereas before it’d be four litres a month near enough, so it’s a lot better,” he reveals. “Just then I had a bit of tuna with my leaves, rather than just leaves, so it’s a little bit of a difference.
“Those weight-cuts definitely had an effect on me, I don’t know what I’m going to be like when I’m my manager [Chris Sanigar]’s age, I’m hoping I’ll be in his shape. We’ll have to wait and see.
“I’ve seen a nutritionist once or twice and I’ve took what they’ve got to say on board and I’ve just adapted to what suits me best.”
Selby, less hindered by the daunting weight-making prospect, is clearly enjoying his boxing these days. The “Welsh Mayweather” hopes to prolong his career far beyond the Burns fight, not just for sporting purposes but in the hopes of inspiring the next generation.
“Sadly, in my area I didn’t really have no role models to look up to or no boxers,” Selby reflects on his own youth. “But I know in my area now there’s a lot of boxing clubs and I got the youngsters looking up to me and they’re aspiring to be like ‘The next Lee Selby’ in my hometown in Newport and in Bristol where my manager is based.”
Never mind the next Lee Selby, for now. The Welsh warrior only hopes the existing Lee Selby can continue beyond Saturday night.