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Lee Selby – Rising Star passes Toughest Test

selby11By Mohummad Humza Elahi: Firstly, this is a response to Scott Gilfoid’s article because even though it was clearly written to incite a reaction, I believe the hyperbole is completely unjustified. Lee Selby (now 16-1, 6 KO’s) passed his toughest test last night against #4 WBC Viorel Simion (now (16-1, 7 KO’s) to capture the Intercontinental version of the featherweight belt in front of a great crowd in Hull. Firstly, let me point something out. Both fighters wake up today with practically identical records, what separates them is an extra KO for Simion and a 5 year advantage for Selby.

This alone should tell you all you need to know about where Selby currently lies in terms of both his own progression and his standing in the world rankings. The fight itself was a scrappy one for Selby; he was put under constant pressure and got tagged with more than a few punches, especially in the later rounds. However, the first 6 rounds where a shutout and he was frustrating Simion with good movement and slipping whilst trying to keep him at bay with the jab. Were these wide margin rounds for Selby? Not in my opinion, but he was edging them with the cleaner work and trying to control the fight from the backfoot. And what of Simion? For a top five featherweight, he was wild when getting close. There was no semblance of pattern in his combinations and this made it very uncomfortable for Selby.

Simion’s conditioning, however, was superb and his workrate didn’t drop a second as he tried to get close and tag Selby in the later rounds, which drew cheers from his corner in an effort to influence the judges. Were there flaws in Selby’s game? Yes, in particular his lack of a knockout punch (of his 6 KO’s, 5 are technical) and an inside game, which I think would’ve given Simion some trouble if Selby imposed his height and reach advantage in the pocket. But where does Selby go now? Firstly, he should address the two issues above and working on completing his game in order to use different tactical approaches when dealing with difficult opponents. This is paramount.

One thing he should’ve picked up from being in the US (he’s trained at the Mayweather gym) is that his game needs to be fluid and malleable enough to adjust to what’s in front of him and if that doesn’t work then change up and try something else. Would I put him in the ring with an Abner Mares or Mikey Garcia? Not right now and seeing how there was talk from his manager to defend his British and Commonwealth strap next, it could be late this year or early next before he defends his WBC title again.

Who he should fight next: Maybe someone like a Ronny Rios or Celestino Caballero to truly measure his ability against the top 10, both would be difficult fights but if Selby wants to reach the top, he’s going to have to sink or swim. Who I’d like to see him fight next: Only one guy, GARY RUSSELL JR. This would be an absolute classic and I think Russell Jr’s people would jump at the chance of fighting Selby and getting a title for their man. For Selby, this would push him to the absolute limit and likely out of his depth but for entertainment value alone, this is one fight I’d pay good money to see.

Those who know about boxing see great potential in Selby, he brings good skill as well as showmanship into his fights and although he does have more learning to do (something he admitted himself last night) he can compete at a world level if matched properly and according to his ability. I think a world title shot is probably 2 years off at this point at least but all the signs are there that Barry, Wales native can go on to achieve great things.

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