Selby hopes for Santa Cruz unification but refuses to overlook Montiel

Selby hopes for Santa Cruz unification but refuses to overlook Montiel

Sugar’ Lee Selby (21-1, 8KO) is aiming to pip ahead of his domestic peers who are in pursuit of a meeting with Mexican star Leo Santa Cruz (31-0-1, 17KO).

Wales’ 12th world champion will defend his IBF featherweight strap for the first time as he makes his American debut in Arizona on Wednesday and it if goes to plan against Fernando Montiel (54-4-2, 39KO), the Barry Town boy wants to unify belts.

27-year-old Santa Cruz is a three weight world champion, just like Montiel is, and he recently defeated Abner Mares in an all-action fire fight to claim the WBA Super title in August. Like Selby, Santa Cruz works with Premier Boxing Champions [PBC] mastermind Al Haymon and even named his son after the advisor the Welshman is signed with.

Despite never even entering serious negotiations for a Santa Cruz fight, Bury’s Scott Quigg and Belfast’s belt-holder Carl Frampton have often used the name of ‘El Terremoto’ to justify not taking each other on.

However, with the super-bantamweights in talks to finally face each other in February and Santa Cruz leaving the 122lbs division to move four pounds north, Selby is the most hopeful of securing the opportunity.

He said: “That’s the fight, Leo Santa Cruz. I’m looking at him for my next fight after this one. I’ve mentioned his name before and now he’s mentioned my name, too.

“I’ve got to beat Montiel, though. I take one fight at a time and I leave my management [Chris and Jamie Sanigar] to look ahead, that’s their job. There’s massive fights out there, massive opportunities.

“First of all, before that, I’ve got to do a good job and look good in getting a win over Montiel. After that, then the world will be my oyster.”

Welsh and Mexican fighters have shared an eventful history and some of the most memorable nights have come in the featherweight division. Merthyr Tydfil’s Howard Winstone went to war with Vincente Saldivar for 42 rounds in the 1960’s in three failed but unforgettable world title tilts.

Selby, who overcame one Mexican in Romulo Koasicha in last year’s wide points decision, knows of the history but refuses to let it affect him.

He said: “That’s it, there’s some history with Wales vs Mexico but it’s just another fight to me, to be honest. “I prepare the same as I always do. I’m always in the gym, always fit, always ready. So, I’ve just got to do the job now.

“I try to learn from other people’s mistakes and that’s not just in boxing, in life in general. Why make your own mistakes when you see other people making them and can avoid doing the same? That’s why I won’t overlook Montiel.”

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