Lee Selby: ‘I want to be remembered as a great fighter and a great champion’
IBF featherweight titlist Lee Selby will face unbeaten Eduardo Ramirez at the Copper Box Arena, in London, on Saturday.
It will be the Welshman’s fourth defense, since his reign began two-and-a-half years ago. Although he’s facing a decided underdog, Selby, who is rated No. 4 by THE RING at 126 pounds, remains the consummate professional.
“I don’t really study the opponents; I like to just have a quick look at them and see their style,” Selby told RingTV.com last Thursday. “(Ramirez)’s unbeaten, comes from Mexico; he has that style, comes forward. I’ve seen him box a little bit on the back foot. He’s southpaw; he looks pretty tall.
“He’s trained by the Montiels, so they sort of know me, (Fernando) being a former opponent of mine.”
Although, Ramirez will be Selby’s third opponent in 2017, it has been far from a good year for him.
In January, he traveled to Las Vegas and was all set to be chief support to the Carl Frampton-Leo Santa Cruz rematch. As he was preparing to step on the scales to make weight for his mandatory challenger Jonathan Barros, the fight with the Argentinean was canceled at the 11th hour.
“The pull out in Vegas was bloody heartbreaking. That was my big stage, my time to shine,” he said disappointingly. “A win then would have set up a big fight with either Frampton or (WBA titlist) Santa Cruz but sadly it didn’t happen.
“I got a quick, warm-up fight (against Andoni Gago in March) and then I dealt with Barros.”
On a personal note, things have been difficult for the 30-year-old boxer-puncher.
“It’s been a tough year, with my mum passing a couple of days before my last fight, no reason why, no illness, nothing,” he said. “Then 10 days later, my granddad passed. It’s been a bit of a tough year. I’ve stayed professional and got on with the job. Today is the anniversary of my brother’s death in 2008. It’s been difficult. It’s how life goes; it’s part of life.”
Selby admits to using boxing to keep him focused during the hard times.
“That’s exactly it. I have something to focus my energy and concentration on and take my mind away from any disruptions life brings,” he said. “If I wasn’t doing the boxing and I was just an average guy, just living day to day, then obviously I’d have a different approach to it. I’d be probably drinking and being depressed about it but instead I have something to channel everything into.”
His motivation is now his young family and providing a better life for them.
“Early on it was about myself bettering my own life,” he admitted. “Now I need to secure my children and family’s future. That’s one of the main reasons and also I want to be remembered as a great fighter and a great champion who boxed the best.”
Selby hopes to close the book on 2017 with a victory over his Mexican challenger and head into the New Year with domestic fights looming.
“Hopefully I can get job done, December 9th. Then I’ve got my mandatory, which is Josh Warrington.” he said.
The two have shared mutual enmity for the past couple of years.
“Warrington would be big in the U.K. The British fans love domestic fights. It would raise my profile, a win over him, and it would set up a massive fight with Carl Frampton. If I could beat him, then that’s it. I’ll be the No. 1 featherweight in the country, never mind the world, and I’ll be in a position to challenge one of them big guys and maybe bring one of those over to the U.K. to challenge me.”
The humble Welshman dubbed by some, admittedly a little over the top, as “The Welsh Mayweather” accepts that, although he is the champion, both derbies would be on the road, Warrington in Leeds, where he is a popular ticket seller, and Frampton in Ireland, likely in Belfast.
“I’m happy with that because, once I get a win over them two, I’ll be calling the shots. I’ll be bringing the big names to Cardiff.” he said of fighting behind enemy lines.
Neither situation figures to faze Selby, who, early in his career, built his name fighting around the country. He fought Martin Lindsay in Belfast, in 2013; although that fight didn’t have nearly the magnitude a Frampton meeting would have, it showed Selby has the mental capability to fight away from home and thrive.
The recent Anthony Joshua fight in Cardiff, whet Selby’s appetite for potentially doing something similar one day.
“That’s the main goal, to be boxing at the Principality Stadium,” he said. “Obviously, I’m not going to do numbers like Joshua, never in my career, but I’m sure, if I was able to get wins over Warrington and Frampton, we’d be able to bring 40,000 to the Principality Stadium with the right opponent…or Barry Island. It’s a smaller version of Las Vegas (Laughs).”
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