Selby overcomes tricky title defence in America

Selby overcomes tricky title defence in America

Sugar’ Lee Selby (22-1, 9KO) has successfully made the first defence of his IBF world title with a Unanimous Decision win against Mexico’s Fernando Montiel (54-5-4, 39KO).

In the 28-year-old’s first fight since signing for boxing’s most influential advisor Al Haymon, Selby was making his American debut as a co-headline attraction but he struggled to make a mark on the Premier Boxing Champions [PBC] show in his usual impressive fashion.

The judges scored the contest 119-109, 118-110 and 116-11 in favour of Selby. Aided by the experience of spending many training camps in Los Angeles and Las Vegas alongside manager Chris Sanigar, Selby seemed unphased by the pressure at first.

A strong start saw him trouble Montiel with a right cross in the third round but as it continued, Selby was flatter than usual and he struggled to gauge the distance throughout the 12 rounds.

The featherweights faced each other at Gila River Arena in the heat of Phoenix, Arizona and Montiel appeared more at home, despite being severely undersized from the first bell. Selby, a member of St Joseph’s Boxing Club in Newport, spent the last two weeks in California to acclimatise to Arizona’s desert conditions.

However, the most unsettling feature of the night was Montiel’s slippery fients that kept Selby guessing and falling short with his jab. Montiel would too often fail to follow up his movement with punches, though and Selby’s higher workrate saw him through.

The pair were continually engaging in messy clinches due to the height difference and Montiel approaching enages from a low position. Selby was wary of accidental clashes and rightfully so as he was bleeding from his right eye in the sixth round.

At the day before weigh-in, the former flyweight, super-flyweight and bantamweight world champion looked considerably smaller than Selby even before the Welshman rehydrated. Selby is widely regarded as one of the division’s physically biggest operators and he owned around a six inch height advantage over Montiel, a 36-year-old veteran of 61 outings.

The IBF apply a rule to championship fights that stipulates boxers can gain no more than 10lbs from the weigh-in to 9:00am on the day of the contest. It is designed to ensure that a smaller boxer’s health isn’t put under increased risk and that larger boxers rehydrate at a reasonable rate of safety.

However, Selby-Montiel was the exception, as many observers expected, and resulted in a significant size difference. For Selby, the objective of the trip was to increase his stateside profile against a known and respected name, with the view of attracting attention of his fellow world title holders – so, it’s job done and all boxes ticked by the Barry boy.

It’s understood that Selby, who was showcased on ESPN in America and again on Sky Sports in Britain, will look to defend his belt for a second time at the start of 2016. That is very likely to be on home soil as part of a Matchroom Sport show and then his handlers are planning for him to return to America for a larger fight in the early summer months.

The division’s money man is another three weight world champion Mexican, Leo Santa Cruz and it seems the WBA titlist is receptive to the idea of a unification fight. Last month, the all-action 27-year-old mentioned Selby’s name as a potential opponent to reporters in the Las Vegas media centre for Floyd Mayweather’s fight against Andre Berto.

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