Jamie Sanigar: Andrew Selby is the most avoided fighter I’ve had

Jamie Sanigar: Andrew Selby is the most avoided fighter I’ve had

Bristol based manager Jamie Sanigar has never worked with a more avoided boxer than Barry Town’s Andrew Selby (5-0, 3KO).

A number of flyweights have decided against fighting the 27-year-old Welshman since he ended an illustrious amateur career and turned professional a year ago.

Since winning the British title with a shutout of Derby’s Louis Norman in May, Selby has struggled to find a challenger. Meetings with Scotland’s Iain Butcher, Romford’s world title challenger Charlie Edwards and Liverpool’s former European champion Kevin Satchell have all been mooted but the trio pursued other options.

Sanigar, who co-manages Selby, said: “In regards to Andrew being the most avoided fighter I’ve had, he probably has to go down as that. It’s very frustrating.

“Nowadays, with so many routes and ways to get yourself to the holy grail of a world title, fighters are less inclined to pitch themselves in 50-50 domestic title fights, they go the Inter-Continental route.”

The aforementioned Satchell was mandatory challenger for Selby’s Lord Lonsdale strap and it even went to purse bids, which were won by Sanigar Events. However, the Scouser withdrew afterwards, understood to be looking for a world title eliminator instead.

Sanigar said: “It wasted a couple of months of Andrew’s career and it was very frustrating. Kevin is a good fighter, he’s undefeated, ranked by all world-governing bodies. It would have been a good test for Andrew.

“A lot of time has to go in to planning to bid for a fight, you pay up front with the Board [British Boxing Board of Control/BBBoC] and book the venue. You have to have a plan of attack to finance it and naturally in our organisation, we haven’t got an endless pit of money and a huge TV deal to fall back on.

“Everything has to be carefully structured to make it financially viable. That’s why it’s frustrating when it falls through. It was a strong bid, it was decent pay for the fight and it’s just disappointing.”

It has prompted a change of focus for Selby, whose handlers are putting together a path towards bigger belts and major titles sooner than expected – even by the 2012 Olympian’s standards.

Sanigar said: “Now, the plan is to move on and look at European and world level in the next six to 12 months. I think it’s looking unlikely [Selby will ever defend the British title] but we’re certainly not going to give it up.

“If a suitable contender comes along, I’ve told Robert Smith [General Secretary of the BBBoC] if anyone comes through or wants it, we’re open to it. We will hold on to it, he’s proud to be British champion.

“There aren’t many top level domestic fighters at the lower weights, so obviously once two or three swerve it then it’s pretty much all of the division gone. If it was welterweight, middleweight or light-heavyweight, there are a few more options but at flyweight, it’s very limited. It means Andrew could go to higher levels sooner.”

For now, Selby will instead face 24-year-old import Felix Moncada (9-5-1, 1KO), a Nicaraguan who has never fought outside of his home country. It was initially supposed to be another Nicaraguan, Hermongenes Castillo but the unbeaten visitor has been sidelined at the last minute with a hand injury.

The 10 rounder will take place on Cyclone Promotions’ show in Edinburgh Scotland on Friday, broadcast by Channel 5 and Spike TV. It’s another foreign opponent for Selby, who has only faced two Brits in the paid code, though Sanigar insists there’s method to the matchmaking.

He said: “Andrew has the extensive amateur career but that’s traditionally against Europeans. The plan has been, and you’ll see it in the opponents who feature in the next few months, South Americans. They are going to be key to finding tough challenges to push Andrew and get the best of him, test him so he’s ready.”

Should the self-styled ‘AC Superstar’ win as expected, he will then fight for a new title on the undercard of super-middleweight contender George Groves at the SSE Wembley Arena on 18 November. It’s hoped that Selby’s world ranking will be boosted by a new belt and enable him to challenge for a major title in early 2017, following in the footsteps of brother Lee [IBF world featherweight champion]. However, Sanigar isn’t taking anything for granted.

He said: “Everyone automatically thinks he’s going to be a world champion but it’s not as simple as that. There are some elite level guys at flyweight. They might not be household names because it’s not a marquee division but there are some top level fights we know of. We respect the level it’s going to take for Andrew to become world champion.”

Switch-hitting Selby doesn’t rely on his size to win fights but the maverick is still remarkably large and lengthy for the 112lbs division. Sanigar insists that the flyweight days of Selby, who is trained by Newport’s Tony Borg, aren’t numbered amidst frustrating periods of boxing politics that threaten to starve him of opportunities.

Sanigar said: “I don’t think there will ever be a lack of opponents but it depends on what opportunities arise. You wonder whether flyweights get the opportunities they deserve but you see with Roman Gonzalez, he’s now getting HBO dates. Now, there’s a bit more recognition for the talent at the lighter weights.

“If he did have to go up, he’s got a tall frame for a flyweight, so I don’t see problems moving up to bantamweight. He was boxing at bantamweight in the WSB and that was against top fights like Michael Conlan. I think we’ll look at things as opportunities arise.”

Cardiff’s Mitchell Buckland (11-0, 2KO), also co-managed by Sanigar, is no longer appearing on the show. The 23-year-old was scheduled to face the unbeaten Jason Easton (7-0, 3KO) in a defence of the Celtic super-lightweight title.

However, St Joseph Boxing Club’s Buckland has vacated the belt he won in October due to personal reasons and Easton will now challenge for the vacant title against Cardiff’s Rhys Saunders (3-3, 1KO).

Buckland’s wife, Rachael, has suffered a serious head injury and is currently fighting for her life in hospital. Rachael won a Welsh Championships as an amateur, representing her country at international level and has since become a mother of two. Click here to make a donation to help the family.

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