Fight week update: Selby and Gradovich meet for the first time

Fight week update: Selby and Gradovich meet for the first time

Fight week got real for ‘Sugar’ Lee Selby (20-1, 8KO) as, for the first time, he came face-to-face with the man standing in his way of history. A relaxed Evgeny Gradovich (19-0-1, 9KO), the current IBF world featherweight champion, was in attendance at the final pre-fight press conference and his demeanour impressed many of the media. Gradovich, who was with his esteemed Californian based trainer Robert Garcia, said: “Very good to be here. England, I’ve never been here before, so [it’s] first time. It’s like my kid dream. I know English circuit is one of the best in the world, I am here. I hope that it be good fight. Fight night [is] Saturday night, so we will see. “I expect good fight. I know Lee Selby is [a] good fighter. A lot of England fighters some of the best. I hope it will be good fight night for everybody to be happy.” Selby, who is aiming to become Wales’ 12th ever world champion, spoke in his typically straightforward manner and stated his respect for his undefeated Russian opponent. He said: “First of all, I know I’m up against it. Evgeny Gradovich is a very good fighter. I’m his fifth title defence, third mandatory. He’s unbeaten, so his record says it all. It’s a fight I’m really confident of winning. Styles make fights and my style beats his.” Should Selby win, he’ll need to ruffle the feathers of his calm competitor known at ‘The Mexican Russian’ and he’s every intention of seizing the opportunity with both hands. He said: “I’m going to leave everything in the ring. I can’t afford to make mistakes. Like I said, he’s a great fighter and he’ll capitalise. Hopefully, I can box to the best of my ability and be crowned the new world champion. “I started at the bottom, fighting on small hall shows, little money and no TV coverage. I’ve worked my way up from the Welsh Area title, Celtic title, British, Commonwealth, two WBC International titles, two eliminators and now the big one. I can’t afford to let it slip.” It was a less explosive press conference than yesterday when Craig Evans, a stablemate of Selby at St Joseph’s Boxing Club in Newport, almost came to blows with his rival Scott Cardle. However, there was simmering tension in the air when Selby and Gradovich shared an intense 60 second stare off. The bout is one of three big world title fights on Matchroom Sport’s ‘Rule Britannia’ show and Adam Smith, Sky Sport’s Head of Boxing, believes Selby will shine on the Box Office night. Speaking to iFL TV, Smith said: “I lean towards Selby on that one, many people think Gradovich but I think Selby will come of age on Saturday night.” Watch the full press conference from iFL TV here: Fight night running order: Fight #3, approximately 6:00pm. Craig Evans (14-0, 3KO) v Scott Cardle (17-0, 5KO). 12 rounds, vacant British lightweight title. Fight #4, approximately 6:45pm. Nick Blackwell (16-3-1, 6KO) v John Ryder (20-1, 12KO). 12 rounds, vacant British middleweight title. Fight #5, 7:30pm. Nathan Cleverly (28-2 14KO) v Tomas Man (13-8-1, 8KO). Eight rounds, non-title light-heavyweight contest. Fight #6, approximately 8:00pm. Lee Selby (20-1, 8KO) v Evgeny Gradovich (19-0-1, 9KO). 12 rounds, IBF world featherweight title. Sky Sports Box Office will show ‘Rule Britannia’ exclusively live this Saturday. Buy now at www.skysports.com/brookgavin

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