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Selby wants Santa Cruz-Frampton winner or Russell Jr.


By Scott Gilfoid: After milking his IBF title for the last two fights against lesser opposition, IBF featherweight champion Lee Selby (23-1, 8 KOs) has finally decided he wants to test himself against the best fighters in the featherweight division.

The 29-year-old Selby would like to fight the winner of next month’s clash between WBA Super World featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz (32-0-1, 18 KOs) and Carl Frampton (22-0, 14 KOs), or face WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. (27-1, 16 KOs).

Selby believes if he beats the likes of Santa Cruz and Russell Jr., he’ll become a huge star in the U.S. I hate to break the news to Selby, but those guys aren’t huge stars in the U.S. I mean, Russell Jr. doesn’t have much of a fan base at all, period, from what I can see.

Santa Cruz has a decent fan base in the U.S, but he’s not a Saul “Canelo” Alvarez type guy. If anything, Santa Cruz has a fan base in the Los Angeles area in Southern California, but that’s pretty much it. I don’t blame Selby for not knowing about how popular certain American fighters are, but someone needs to clue him in that he won’t be a star even if he beat Santa Cruz and Russell Jr. 100 times. Unfortunately for Selby, I don’t think he can beat either of those guys with his weak punching power, slow hand speed, and his spoiling type of fighting.

To beat Santa Cruz and Russell Jr, you need to fight them. You can’t run around the ring like Selby does, because the judges in the U.S likely won’t give him many rounds. They judge based on aggression and cleaner landing punches. They’re not going to give Selby rounds if all he does is try and make his opponents miss. The name of the game is landing punches, and Selby is going to need to learn that if he wants to beat guys like Santa Cruz and Russell Jr.

Selby wants to take one more voluntary defense of his IBF strap, and then go after the Santa Cruz-Frampton winner or Russell Jr. it makes sense for Selby to look for a big cash out unification fight right now, because he might not be able to get past Johnathan Barros, who is breathing down his neck as the IBF’s highest ranked contender right now. If Selby is going to lose, at least he can get a big payday against Frampton, Santa Cruz or Russell Jr.

“I need to get a win over Russell Jr, Santa Cruz or Frampton,” said Selby to “That will catapult me to the top or very near to it. I want all the champions at featherweight. Myself, Santa Cruz, Frampton, Cuellar, Mares and Russell Jr are all advised by Al Haymon so all those fights are in-house and could be easily made. If I could beat one of the American-based fighters over there, I’d turn into a big star over there because they’re big names.”

Selby has been something of a disappointment since winning the IBF title in May of 2015 in beating Evgeny Gradovich by an eight round stoppage. Since then, Selby has twice defended his title in defeating 37-year-old Fernando Montiel and Eric Hunter. It would have been nice to see Selby take on the likes of Nicholas Walters, Abner Mares, Jesus Cuellar, Oscar Valdez, Jessie Magdaleno, Ronny Rios or Joseph Diaz Jr. Those guys are a HECK of a lot better than the guys that Selby has been facing in the old timer Montiel and Hunter. I’m just saying.

Instead of Selby milking his IBF title, he should have been taking on the best. Now he’s blabbing about wanting to take on Russell Jr., Frampton or Santa Cruz. If that were the case, then why wasn’t Selby fighting Nicholas Walters or Oscar Valdez. I mean, I think Selby would be destroyed by both of those guys. Why didn’t Selby’s promoter Eddie Hearn put him in with Walters and Oscar Valdez, eh? I smell fear.

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Instead of fighting Valdez and Walters, Selby was hoping to fight the light hitting Josh Warrington. The fight didn’t negotiations didn’t pan out for Selby, so now he’s looking to make another defense against an opponent still to be determined, and then he wants to fight Frampton, Santa Cruz or Russell Jr.

“My next opponent will be a top-class fighter and beyond that, I’ll most definitely be targeting the winner of Santa Cruz against Frampton,” said Selby.

I can’t see Selby beating any of those guys. He’s too defensive and he doesn’t have any power. Those guys can punch and they’ll walk Selby down and beat him on points just based on effective aggression. I see Selby as a paper champion without power or any real offensive skills. Selby had enough to beat Gradovich to win the IBF title last year, but I don’t think he’s got the kind of talent to beat Santa Cruz, Frampton or Russell Jr. Gradovich was recently knocked out in four rounds by Oscar Valdez last April.

If you compare the job Valdez did against Gradovich to the job Selby did in beating him, it’s like night and day. Valdez made mincemeat out of Gradovich. If Selby really wants to prove something, he should have Hearn contact Oscar Valdez’s promoter and set up a fight against him. Will Hearn do that? Probably not in this lifetime. Valdez is just too good for Selby in my view, and I think it would be a mismatch on the same level of the Valdez-Gradovich fight.

I’d like to see Selby finally take on a good fighter, because he still hasn’t fought one quality opponent in his career in my view. Sorry, I don’t consider Gradovich to be a good fighter. I just think it’s going to end badly for Selby when he does fight someone like Frampton, Santa Cruz or Russell Jr. Like I said, Selby has got to do something soon to get a big fight because he’s got to get stuck fighting Barros, and I see that young kid doing a number on Selby. Even some of the super bantamweights like Guillermo Rigondeaux and Nonito Donaire would easily beat Selby if they came up to featherweight and challenged him in my opinion.

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