Wednesday, March 29, 2023  |


Lee Selby edges closer to projected Frampton showdown

Lee Selby - Photo: Esther Lin/Showtime
Fighters Network

In boxing it’s almost impossible not to look ahead. Much to the chagrin of fighters, trainers, managers and promoters who would prefer to discuss the here and now, writers are always requesting interviewees to stare tantalizingly into a fistic crystal ball.

This Saturday, Lee Selby will defend his IBF featherweight title for the third time against Argentina’s Jonathan Victor Barros in Las Vegas. In essence, though, this is the fight before the fight because the crafty Welshman has been linked to a unification superbout against Belfast’s WBA titleholder, Carl Frampton.

Nothing is written stone of course. The talented Selby is 8/1 on to sweep aside Barros, a durable slugger who once held the WBA 126-pound title, and move on to bigger and better things. Frampton, meanwhile, must repeat a career-best triumph over Leo Santa Cruz, whom he defeated by 12-round majority decision last July, in the main event.

Assuming all goes to plan, the Frampton-Selby showdown might just be child’s play to put together. Why? Because unlike the dozens of other big fights that stall because of ego and unrealistic expectations, Selby is more than willing to acquiesce to Frampton’s demands for such a bout to take place.

“Carl is the A-side,” stated Selby with refreshing candor. “He’s the bigger draw and he’s had the higher-profile fights, so I have no problems going over to Belfast. I’m a realist and I know the sport. He is the A-side and that’s no disrespect to myself as a world champion. He’s just had the bigger fights to this point and he’s drawing bigger crowds.

“It suits me to fight over there. I defended my British and Commonwealth titles against Martin Lindsay (12-round unanimous decision victory) in Belfast. It was a very hostile atmosphere but there are a lot of good boxing people in Ireland and I performed well that night. On the way to the ring, the fans booed me and on the way out they gave me a standing ovation. I’m happy to go over there and fight Carl.”

First things first. The rematch between Frampton and Santa Cruz is eagerly anticipated because the first fight was a classic give-and-take brawl. Santa Cruz only engages forward gears and unlike many of his previous opponents, Frampton has the hitting power and offensive imagination to give him hell. That won’t stop Santa Cruz from coming forward, however, and the result should be an absolute firestorm.

“Hopefully Frampton wins,” said Selby with an undercurrent of optimism in his voice. “He’s beat him once, although the first fight was very close. I can see the rematch being close, too, but if Frampton boxes off the back foot then he can win a lot more comfortably than he did last time. It’s a tough fight for both.

“If he comes through, a fight between Carl and I would be massive. They appreciate my boxing and it would be a really big event. We both like to box, although the punch power lies with Carl and he also likes to get into a tear-up. I like to get into a tear-up too but I try to stay disciplined and box. It would be a great spectacle, whether it’s a boxing match or a scrap.”

Selby, who is rated No. 3 by THE RING at featherweight, was only officially added to the Las Vegas card earlier this month. He has been inactive since getting off the floor, for the first time in his career, to post a 12-round unanimous decision over American Eric Hunter. Consequently, there are those who feel he has been rushed into this fight and could have been doing with more time to prepare.

The Welshman, a renowned gym rat, was keen to dismiss any concerns and insisted that he has been training hard throughout 2016 and into the new year.

Selby said, “I’ve been in Las Vegas for about a week and I feel OK. My sleeping pattern is back to how it is at home and I’ve acclimatized well. I’ve seen Barros in the flesh, when I went over to Japan to watch his final eliminator (12-round split decision over Satoshi Hosono).

“He’s a good strong fighter, very experienced and he punches hard. Hopefully I can get a good win.”



Tom Gray is a UK Correspondent/ Editor for and a member of THE RING ratings panel. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing





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