Just another day at the office: Lee Selby interview

Shaun Brown
14/02/2018 8:20pm

Ahead of his world title clash with Josh Warrington in Leeds on 19 May, IBF champion Lee Selby tells Shaun Brown "I'm not going to get into a slagging match" with his Leeds rival...

It has been a long time in the making but Lee Selby and Josh Warrington will finally get it on at Elland Road, Leeds on 19 May.

A fortnight ago the first press conference was staged at the home of Leeds United, and both men suited and booted had their say as each sat just a few feet from one another before coming face to face for the cameras.

Selby (26-1, 9 KOs), who will be making the fifth defence of his IBF featherweight title, walked into some boos on the day from the Warrington faithful, but predictably was unfazed by the challenger's attempts to ruffle his feathers and get under his skin.

"I don't know if he was being someone else, or himself, but he seems to have lost a lot of fans. They've all been messaging me on social media asking me to shut him up, people from Leeds," Selby told Boxing Monthly last week.

The champion says that those messages are due to the behaviour and language from Warrington (26-0, 6 KOs) at the presser.

"He's challenging for a world title. There's a lot of people looking up to us both. I'm world champion. I've got youngsters looking up to me, you never hear me swearing in the media or anything like that. I'm trying to be a role model for these kids. Who wants him as a role model? Swearing and sticking his fingers up to the crowd and all that crap."

Those words may give off the impression that the champion is slightly riled by his long-term rival, but far from it. Sometimes you have to remind yourself that the 30-year-old from Barry Island in Wales is a professional boxer, such is his incredibly relaxed manner concerning what lies ahead of him.

"None of them get under my skin, they're just opponents to be honest," he said. "They don't bother me. They can do what they want; do their training, say what they want to say. At the end of the day we're going to fight. I'm not going to get into a slagging match. I'll just do my work in the gym, box and hopefully win."

The bout against Warrington is part of a three-fight plan for Selby in 2018, which if it comes off would mean six fights in two years - being so active completely suits the elder brother of WBC number one flyweight contender, Andrew.

By the end of the year Lee will have hoped to have put the Warrington period of his career to bed, fought the former WBA 126lbs champion Carl Frampton and ended 2018 by "rolling the dice" in a unification.

BM asked the IBF champion for his prediction for Frampton's next fight, against Nonito Donaire, on 21 April in Belfast.

"It's a tough fight. Well, he's past his best, Donaire, but he's still dangerous. He punches with a big left hook but I pick Frampton to stop him."

And of a potential fight between himself and 'The Jackal'?

"It's a natural fight, we both fight in the same time frame. If we win it's a fight that the public is going to demand. The fight's easy to make, we're both under the BT [Sport] banner at the moment and I think it's just a natural fight for us both."

Despite the outdoor venue and the high profile of his next fight, Selby sees Josh Warrington as just another opponent. It doesn't appear to be an over-confidence on his part, it is more a reflection of the man he is. He could be fighting King Kong and he would likely say similar!

Fighting on the big stage does, however, excite Selby. The platform it provides sets up both men for the next phase of their careers.

"A lot of fans will be tuning in and that's the main thing," he said. "I go in focused. I can't let emotions get involved... I don't want to beat him up or whatever. I just stick to my boxing. He's just another opponent.

"The fans won't affect me at all. If anything it'll affect him. He'll come firing out and have all his fans backing him and he'll just make mistakes. It won't bother me at all."

World title fights, fighting in a football stadium, being earmarked for a domestic super fight against Carl Frampton... it's a far cry from the 22-year-old who lost on points in his fifth professional fight in a four rounder against Samir Mouneimne in 2009 at the Fenton Manor Sports Complex in Stoke.

"I can just about remember what I had for breakfast, never mind all those years ago," Selby joked when BM attempted to jog his memory about that day.

"I remember. He was crying, 'I quit!'," chimed in brother Andrew, laughing, who was sat next to Lee during the interview.

"I'm gonna pull over the car in a minute and give him a good hiding!" replied the elder Selby.

Brotherly love to one side, Lee Selby does see a threat from Warrington as he does from any fighter who puts on 8oz gloves and challenges for a world title.

"He's got a good jab, good work rate and all that. He's a good all-round boxer but he's not outstanding at any one thing. He's not a massive puncher or lightning fast. He's a good rounded boxer and it should be a good fight.

"But it's just like any other fight. Beat him and move on," the relaxed champion concluded.