Lee Selby, who became a 126-pound world champion earlier this year, is set to make his U.S. debut later this month. And as fight night nears, the native of Barry, Wales, in the U.K. can’t contain his enthusiasm any more than a 5-year-old on Christmas Eve.
“I’m so excited about the future because I know the British public rate me very highly, but now it’s time for a wider audience to see what I am about,” says Selby, who will bring a 21-1 record (8 KOs) across the pond for his October 14 clash with Mexican legend Fernando Montiel in Glendale, Arizona (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
“I think the best way of summing it up is this: I can’t wait. I’m impatient to get into the ring and show America that there is a new kid on the block in the featherweight ranks, and I aim to be a champion for many, many years.”
Lee Selby arrived in the U.S. on September 26 and set up shop in Los Angeles, where he’s conducting final fight preparations before making the short trek to Arizona.
That a lifelong resident of cool, wet South Wales would be staging his first American fight in the desert might cause some to wonder if the 28-year-old can adjust to the dramatic climate change. But he insists he won’t be fazed.
“I’d be very bothered if it was outside under the July sun, but this is different,” he says. “It’s in an indoor arena. … I’m guessing it won’t be raining in Phoenix as much as it does back home—and believe me, that’s not a bad thing.”
Fighting for the first time under the Premier Boxing Champions banner, Selby will be matched up against a former three-division world champion in Montiel (54-4-2, 39 KOs). The 36-year-old power-puncher, who is riding an eight-fight winning streak, has Selby’s utmost respect.
“He’s class,” Selby says of Montiel. “Three world title belts says it all. He will be tough to beat and will be coming to take my belt. It’s not going to happen.”
Even though he’s keenly aware of Montiel’s accomplishments and fighting style, Selby doesn’t claim to know all of his opponent’s tendencies and idiosyncrasies. That’s because while many fighters devote a chunk of training camp breaking down tape with Zapruder-like precision, the Welshman stresses that’s really never been part of his pre-fight regimen.
“That’s not my style,” he says. “I will watch Montiel, sure. I’ll study him and see what I think are his strengths and possible weaknesses, but I won’t spend hours and hours doing it.
“I have always thought if you watch an opponent too much it can make you too rigid and less able to make alterations once the fight begins. I like to go into the ring without overstudying a fighter, so that I can work him out myself.”
“ He’s class. Three world title belts says it all. He will be tough to beat and will be coming to take my belt. It’s not going to happen. ” Lee Selby on upcoming opponent Fernando Montiel
Selby turned pro in 2008 and reeled off four straight wins before losing a four-rounder on points to Samir Mouneimne in May 2009. It proved to be only a minor setback, as he’s since sliced his way through the 126-pound ranks while fighting exclusively in the United Kingdom.
Most recently, Selby dominated Evgeny Gradovich in their 126-pound title fight in London on May 30, winning a technical decision when the bout was stopped in the eighth round. In so doing, he became Wales’ 12th world champion—and he intends to hold onto that title for years to come.
“It is still a day that I have to remember and pinch myself,” Selby says. “And yet I still feel that there is so much more to come from me. I feel I am developing as a fighter, and you have seen pretty much nothing yet.
“I love the fact that I have put my town of Barry on the boxing map, but now it’s about going global and beating Montiel is part of that. I aim to put down a marker for the rest of my division. As I said, I really, really can’t wait.”
For complete coverage of Selby vs Montiel, visit our fight page.