Andrew Selby shines… and then given serious scare by Fadhili Majiha

Andrew Selby shines… and then given serious scare by Fadhili Majiha

This article first appeared in the Welsh Boxing Annual 2019-2020. Click here to buy on Amazon.

By Dewi Powell: Two fights in a fortnight almost caught up with Barry’s Andrew Selby (13-1, 7KO) as he experienced the full spectrum of drama on offer in a boxing ring.

First up, Selby bamboozled Worawatchai Boonian (14-23-2, 13KO) in less than a round on an Mack The Knife [MTK] Global glamour night in Dubai. The flyweight swarmed all over his Thai opponent and sent him to the canvas twice before it was wisely waved off.

Two weeks later, it was Selby’s turn to visit the floor twice and a supposedly routine outing against Tanzania’s Fadhili Majiha (24-14-4, 11KO) called on all of his resolve over eight rounds in Newcastle. Referee Darren Maxwell favoured Selby via a razor thin 76-74 scorecard to ensure the comeback continued. Selby was still in the rebuilding stage, having lost a WBC world title eliminator to Julio Cesar Martinez in Mexico six months earlier. Plenty had changed since then.

The loss prompted Selby to sever ties with trainer Tony Borg and management Sanigar Events. Moving on, he linked up with former Team GB teammate Daniel Chapman as his new trainer and signed an advisory deal with MTK Global. The new team was supposed to provide structure and activity for Selby to help him to go back to boxing basics and overcome the loss to Martinez. It also aided his recovery from a dark place in his private life that included addiction, legal problems and the unexpected death of his mother.

Selby, a 2016 Olympian and widely regarded as the best Welsh amateur boxer of all time, has long been known as one of the best movers in British boxing. The sight of him on the floor, sent there by a flush power punch in the first round, was surprising to everyone except Majiha. The African timed a right cross just as Selby crossed his feet and it sent him crashing to the neutral corner. Selby even had to take a knee before rising, just to be sure he was on steady legs. Pure grit and toughness were needed to survive and Selby appeared to recover by the next session.

From rounds two to five, Selby’s typically smooth skills were put to use – pivots, dips and speedy tricks kept him ahead. He scored with snappy counters when Majiha tried too hard, the only issue was that the Welshman’s punches couldn’t deter Majiha from coming forward again and again. Majiha made a more concerning breakthrough in the sixth round. Selby was staggered by another right hand and unable to escape a sustained attack. His balance was betrayed by his legs and he was floored for a second time, this time stumbling southwards.

The final two rounds called on Selby’s bravery and they still needed to be won. It led to tense exchanges with Majiha and each staked a claim with their wildly contrasting skillsets. Selby’s backers would have been concerned with the performance and his critics questioned if his best days were in the past.

Cardiff’s Barry Jones, a former WBO super-featherweight champion, scored it as a draw in his co-commentary role for ESPN+ and iFL TV. Selby was equally honest in his post-fight assessment.

“It was a very, very tough opponent,” opened the 30-year-old to ringside interviewer Alex Steedman. “I can say now, I didn’t think he hit hard but you’d think I was lying because he dropped me twice. They were big shots but I recovered well, I wasn’t hurt, just hit flush on the button and maybe I over trained. I don’t know. That was a five out of 10 today, I’m thankful for the win.

“I just felt like every bit of energy was sapped out of me but no excuses. I’ve been training like a maniac. Maybe we’ll have to have a week off because I didn’t have no time off.

“People hide behind their keypads to say I was shit… I was shit, excuse my language. I was terrible but I was a good terrible because I won. This guy is a tough man, you can’t box amazing on every single fight.

“I’ll tell you how I want it, because now they can’t hide from me… Jay Harris, you’ve seen how shit I was, so when you fight [Paddy] Barnes, I want the winner for the European title. If you can’t beat me like that, then you want to quit yourself.”

The British champion, who was yet to defend his Lonsdale belt after winning it three years ago, had sent a challenge to Swansea’s Jay Harris. As it happened, the reigning Commonwealth and European champion was in hunting season for former amateur stars.

This article first appeared in the Welsh Boxing Annual 2019-2020. Click here to buy on Amazon.

Image by MTK Global.

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