Lee Selby: ‘I will always be a credible opponent, but that’s not all I want to be’

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SET for what might be his ultimate run at a title, Lee Selby is hardly in want of motivation or inspiration going into 2022. However, it will have performed the Barry Island light-weight no hurt to have seen former opponent George Kambosos Jnr outpoint and dethrone world lightweight champion Teófimo López final month in New York.

Selby, after all, misplaced a shut split-decision when boxing Kambosos in October 2020 and got here away that evening feeling he not solely deserved the choice but he might have performed a lot extra. “Although I lost the decision, it was one of the easiest fights I’ve had,” he advised Boxing News. “Some of those large title fights – nicely, most of them – you get up the subsequent day and your physique’s aching and it’s a wrestle getting away from bed. Your eyes are black and blue. But with the Kambosos struggle I awoke as contemporary as a daisy with out a mark on my face. It didn’t really feel like I’d had a struggle.

“During the fight, I thought I was winning, so I just boxed behind the jab and played it safe. He was quite deceiving when in front of me. He made me feel like if I let my right hand go, I’d get caught with a counter uppercut. So I didn’t throw my right hand. But now, in hindsight, I didn’t do enough. I should have forced the pace. I played it too safe.”

If acceptance is step one, Selby sounds in a good way of thinking heading into any attainable rematch with Kambosos subsequent yr. Better but, ought to the rematch occur, its worth will solely have soared in mild of Kambosos’ current exploits.

“I thought López was going to win but Kambosos did really well,” Selby stated. “He performed him fairly handily, I thought.

“After I boxed Kambosos, because I didn’t make him look too good with my style, they might have overlooked him. But I used a lot of movement and stuff and a lot of other fighters don’t do that. They just come forward. Maybe I made Kambosos look worse than he really is.”

Second time round, Selby insists he will be higher. He additionally believes that due to the shut nature of the primary struggle a rematch is a should. “I’d love it,” he stated. “It was controversial. DAZN had me successful fairly vast, Sky had me shedding fairly vast, and the judges have been break up: one had me successful shut, one had Kambosos successful shut, and the third had it 10 rounds to two, which was loopy.

“Before I boxed him, he regarded very quick and robust, but as soon as I was within the ring with him I adjusted to the velocity immediately. He didn’t appear overly quick and the facility wasn’t troublesome, both. But he was always cocked, prepared to counter me, and I shouldn’t have fallen for that. I ought to have simply let the photographs go and seen how he reacted.

“At the top level it’s hard to make those decisions in a fight because the margins are so fine. If I did let my hands go and he caught me, the fight could be over. But I should have taken that risk at some point in the fight.”

With the mandatory dangers taken in a rematch, Selby expects the end result to be completely different. “I’d be confident I could stop him,” he stated. “I just played it so safe (first time). I know if I upped my game I could have done a lot more damage.”

Before any probability of that, Selby should first extinguish the specter of Argentina’s Gustavo Lemos, towards whom the Welshman has been paired in a light-weight eliminator. The 25-year-old Lemos is at the moment 27-0 (17) as a professional, although has but to struggle outdoors his homeland, nor struggle any opponents of notice.

“I’m looking forward to it,” stated Selby, a former IBF titleholder at featherweight. “He’s tough, rugged, and he can punch. Most of his fights have been in Argentina. They haven’t been against top-class opponents but he’s been operating at a fairly decent level. It should be a good fight. He’s young, he’s hungry, and I think he’ll come and give me a good fight.”

As nicely as the specter of Lemos, Selby, 34, will have to overcome a irritating spell of inactivity, owing to a barren 2021. “I’ve never been all that active in my whole career,” he stated. “I’ve been energetic myself, when it comes to being within the fitness center always, but there have been lengthy spells in my profession the place I haven’t boxed. So, for me, it’s nothing new.

“Those long spells happened when I was younger and I’m getting on now, but I don’t feel any different. I still feel the way I did when I made my pro debut. I’m fitter than I’ve ever been.”

In it for the lengthy haul, Selby, 28-3 (9), admits that the thought of retirement is not one thing he needs to entertain, a lot much less speak about. Yet, regardless of his unwavering dedication to it and his incapacity to think about a life with out it, he accepts that boxing is a younger man’s recreation and that 34 is taken into account ‘old’ for a light-weight.

“It’s my last roll of the dice to win the title and be a proper champion like I was before and make defences,” he stated. “But it’s not my last chance to be in a world title fight – even if I get beaten. I’m always a credible opponent for any world champion. I’m a former world champion, I’ve never been stopped, and I’ve lost two fights: one was my fifth [IBF featherweight] title defence [against Josh Warrington], which I lost on a split-decision, and then I stepped up [to lightweight] and lost a split-decision against a boy [Kambosos] who went on to unify the division. I will always be a credible opponent, but that’s not all I want to be.”

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