Lee Selby pays tribute to late brother after European title triumph

Lee Selby pays tribute to late brother after European title triumph

By Dewi Powell: Lee Selby scored a sixth round stoppage win over Rendall Munroe on Saturday and paid tribute to the memory of the person who introduced him to boxing, his late brother Michael Slevin.

The Barry boy, who defended his British featherweight title and picked up the European title too, says it all started when his brother Michael took him to Rhoose Amateur Boxing Club as a child and his nickname ‘Slinky’ decorates Selby’s shorts.

Selby said: “He started boxing first, he didn’t have any fights but he was the one who started training first in our family. He was two years older than me, I was eight when I started and he took me with him, here I am now.

“It’s been a few years now since he passed away and to be honest, I haven’t had a conversation with nobody about it, I haven’t said more than like a sentence about it.

“It’s hard to deal with but it’s nice to keep his name alive. He would have been so proud of me boxing in a sold out arena, he would’ve loved that.”

Michael, older brother of Lee and Andrew Selby, was 23 when he drown in the river Rhyne five years ago while working away as a labourer in Weston-super-Mare and Selby says that Slinky’s death might have subconsciously changed his career.

He said: “To be honest, when he passed away, that’s when I really started dedicating myself to boxing. I don’t know whether it was done subconsciously but thinking back to it, it was around about the same time that I really started knuckling down.

“We were round about the same age, we grew up together, went to school together and we have the same group of friends. I’m gunna keep his name there on my shorts for the rest of my career. Same kit, same colours and his name will be there with me.”

With ‘Slinky’ embroidered on the back of the waistband of Selby’s shorts, a sold out crowd at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena saw the Welshman return to form this past weekend. In his two fights prior to Saturday, Selby didn’t seem himself but he felt the benefits of a break from his usually constant training regime and says it couldn’t have gone better.

He said: “It all went to plan, all the training I’ve been doing in the gym went perfectly on the night. He was pretty easy to hit, I knew that anyway because he comes forward in straight lines and I just picked him off. I boxed off my angles, used the ring, side to side and that was the plan. “I hit him high on the temple at the end of the first and his legs went. It didn’t surprise me, that’s when those shots can come off because you catch them cold but he’s a fit guy and he recovered well and he wasn’t ready to go then.

“All the way through the fight, I was catching him with big shots that were hurting him but I was still planning on breaking him down over the rounds because he wasn’t ready to go then. When I did catch him, I took full advantage and got him out of there.”

It was Selby’s first fight in Wales for two and a half years, the reaction to his homecoming was enthusiastic and it saw the 26-year-old sell over 1,000 tickets personally, compared to 50 when he last fought in his home country. The walk through the crowd to the ring is a memory he’ll never forget.

He said: “It was amazing, it was amazing when I was coming out. Usually, I’m fighting away. Even when I started out, I only had a couple of home fights and I was out on the road as an opponent who is supposed to lose but I was turning them over.

“When I walk to the ring, I’m used to them all booing me but this time I come out and the whole crowd is on my side, a sold out arena chanting my name. It’s amazing, y’know?

“It did surprise me a bit, coming out and seeing all these faces I’ve never seen before and they’re singing my name. I haven’t had that unless the crowd has been jeering against me. There were people on Saturday who don’t know me but they were cheering me, I can’t thank them enough.

“I had goosebumps and everything. Normally, in the first round I warm in to the fight but the crowd had me pumped up and I had a good first round and I could let my shots go a bit more.”

The stoppage came when Selby trapped Munroe in a neutral corner for a sustained amount of time and as there was very little coming back, referee Ian John Lewis decided to end the contest as Selby broke down and through Munroe’s tight defence. The Leicester man protested at the decision but Selby believes it was correct.

He said: “First of all, I caught him with a good shot and pushed him on to the ropes. I was peppering him with a load of fast shots, they weren’t hard but the last few I caught him with were. One was a big left hook, I seen in his eyes that he was hurt, his eyes were all over the place. The ref seen it, I caught him with another right hand, the ref ran in and that was it.

“Even if he wasn’t hurt, you can’t stay in a corner and let someone tee off on you for about 30 seconds and not really reply. It gives the referee no option but to stop the fight.”

One criticism of Selby that some observers have made is that he’s too willing to take a shot and has paid little notice to the shots thrown back at him. However, Selby has been mindful of the flaw and demonstrated it whilst Munroe attempted to walk him down.

He said: “I’ve been working on my defence because as I move up through the levels, the world class fighters only need one shot in the fight to knock anyone out, so I’ve had to work on my defence.

“A lot of these boys have a bully mentality, they want to keep coming forward and walk you down. As soon as you get them on the back foot, they’re out of their comfort zone and they don’t know how to handle it.

“The difference is, I can box on the back foot or stand and trade, I can do what I want to and I need that as I go up in levels.”

Having learned the lesson of spending too much time in the gym and too little time recovering from training camps, Selby will now force himself to rest but he’s enthusiastic and already making plans to return to the gym.

“I’m going to have a bit of a rest now because I’ve only now realised the importance of rest in between fights. As you know, I like to stay in the gym. After my last couple of fights, I’d be training again today but now I know why you should chill.

“I’m not doing anything right now, I’m supposed to be going up to Ricky Burns’ camp to help him get ready for the Terrence Crawford world title fight. It’s my birthday on the 14th (of February), so I’m going to try and stay out of the gym until then but I don’t know if it’ll happen. I’ll try my best.”

Moving on, there are preliminary plans for Matchroom Sport to come back to Wales on May 3rd, again at the Motorpoint Arena with Selby as the main event and he has a real chance to create a new era as the face of Welsh boxing with Slinky’s memory kept alive.

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