Lee Selby Q&A: ‘I’m within touching distance of a world title’
This Saturday night featherweight Lee Selby will take on Mexican contender Romulo Koasicha in Cardiff, Wales, and the prevailing thought is that a world title opportunity is imminent for the swanky technician if he should he prevail.
Koasicha (21-3, 12 knockouts) has had six years of professional experience, with all three defeats coming by close decision. The visitor is game and, at 23 years of age, carries the type of ambition and dexterity required to test the Welshman before a hostile crowd.
But Selby, who is rated No. 9 at 126 pounds by THE RING, remains a strong favorite and a WBC title shot is on the line. In August of last year, Jhonny Gonzalez ripped that strap from Abner Mares, via sensational first-round knockout, and next weekend the fierce Mexican slugger makes a homecoming defense against Clive Atwell.
Selby (18-1, 7 knockouts) will be watching with interest, and although a potential rematch between Gonzalez and Mares is likely to supersede an immediate title fight, promoter Eddie Hearn has disclosed that there have been talks for the talented 27-year-old to face former champion Nonito Donaire.
Despite his sophisticated technique and poise, Selby is, in fact, a real Jekyll and Hyde character. Outside the ring he is quiet and soft spoken, whereas inside it he exudes bucketloads of confidence and a serious mean streak.
RingTV caught up with Selby to discuss his preparation for Saturday night’s bout and his future within the featherweight division.
RingTV: How would you assess your performance against Rendall Munroe last time out?
Lee Selby: Rendall has boxed at the highest level, so I respected him going into that fight. My performance was faultless and I don’t think I made one mistake. All of my training and preparation went perfectly and I knew I would beat him in that fashion.
RTV: The win added the European title to the British and Commonwealth belts you already owned. Do you think cleaning up completely on the domestic scene prepares you better for world level, which is imminent in your case?
LS: I started at the bottom and worked my way up. I won a Welsh Area title, the Celtic title, British, Commonwealth and European. I’ve had a steady progression and now I’m ready for world level. The traditional method of accumulating experience that way means you’re ready when you do get the big fights.
RTV: Your next opponent, Romulo Koasicha, has fought exclusively in Mexico. Have you been able to locate any footage on him and, if so, what did you think?
LS: I’ve had a little look, but I tend not to study opponents. I checked out his style on YouTube and noticed in one fight Koasicha was going toe to toe, and the next he was boxing on the back foot. I have to be ready for whatever he brings and we’ll see how it goes on the night.
RTV: I know that your trainer, Chris Saniger, is a real disciplinarian in the gym and takes no prisoners. How is your overall conditioning and who have you been working with in sparring for this fight?
LS: My conditioning is perfect. I have a strength and conditioning coach, my boxing coach, Tony Borg, and I go over to Bristol to train with Chris Saniger, who works on my technique. I’ve also completed some sparring out in Los Angeles with a variety of different fighters, with a variety of styles. Over here I’ve been sparring with Gary Sykes, Chris Jenkins, my brother Andrew and a few others.
RTV: The Koasicha bout is an official eliminator for the WBC title, and the champion of that organization, Jhonny Gonzalez, fights Clive Atwell a week later. Do you foresee yourself facing the winner?
LS: The chances are, providing I win this fight, that I’ll be involved in a final eliminator. If I come through that then I should be fighting for the WBC title thereafter.
RTV: You recently entered THE RING Top 10 at featherweight, which your promoter Eddie Hearn publicized on Twitter. How do you feel now that you’re reaching the upper echelon of the sport at world level?
LS: It’s just a matter of time before I get my opportunity to reach the pinnacle of this sport. I’m within touching distance of a world title shot, which has been my dream since I started boxing. At that point we’ll see if I’m good enough to win a championship fight.
RTV: You’re a career featherweight who has been a professional for six years. Are you still making the weight comfortably or is a jump to 130 pounds something that will definitely take place?
LS: At the moment I’m making 126 pounds comfortably. At 27 years old I’m fully grown and I doubt I have much more filling out to do. With the training I put in I could put on a bit of muscle mass and move up to 130 pounds but, for now, I’m settled at featherweight. There are no problems in that regard.
RTV: Your brother Andrew will be representing Wales in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. How is he developing and do you think this will be his final amateur tournament before turning professional?
LS: At the moment he’s on fire with the WSB. Out of the 50-plus rounds Andrew has boxed, he’s only lost 3, so that tells you the kind of form he’s in. He’s boxing in Canada this month and will be preparing with the Welsh squad for the Commonwealth Games. Hopefully he takes a gold medal and then we can think about his next move. He could turn professional or hold off for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
RTV: And finally, what is your prediction for May 17th?
LS: Hopefully we see a Lee Selby win. I don’t want to sound too confident or push my luck (laughs).
British fans can see Lee Selby vs. Romulo Koasicha live on Sky Sports 1HD (Channel 401). Coverage starts at 8.00pm.
The bout will also be available in the US via the AWE network.
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing