Selby TKO6 Munroe

By Matt McGrain on February 1, 2014
Selby TKO6 Munroe
Lee Selby needs to step up, where he may find his apparent shortage of power a problem.

A much anticipated clash fought in Cardiff, Wales tonight between British featherweight champion Lee Selby (now 18-1) and challenger Rendall “The Boxing Binman” Munroe (who drops to 27-4) in a fight that would also crown a new lightweight European champion delivered the expected result but in surprisingly one-sided style that somehow conspired still to deliver an unsatisfying ending.

Selby started extremely quickly and advice in the Munroe corner at the end of the round to “take away [Selby’s] jab” was mystifying given that Selby had landed almost every conceivable lead that exists in the first round, a left hook to the body a real favorite although both an uppercut to the midriff and a winging right hand to the top of the head which staggered Munroe right on the bell also eye-catching. Looking every one of his thirty-three years, the notably smaller challenger was game but showed very little in the way dynamism against his fleet-footed opponent. In the second he looked alarmingly out of his league and utterly planless as Selby continued to land a savage mixture of prickly jabs and brutal power-punches with everything he had behind them.

A bad-tempered exchange of fouls was the only thing to break this pattern in the third but Selby looked to stand his ground more in the fourth and the change in his rhythm saw Munroe spy just a glimmer of hope for his trundling approach, although he clearly lost the round. 

That hope was crushed early in the sixth when Selby caught Munroe with a clean right hand and then blasted him to the ropes and into the neutral corner with punches. Rag-dolled and hurt, Munroe protected his chin with slips, sliding away from punches, keeping his hands high, poking back with the occasional punch when the referee suddenly, and possibly at Selby’s behest, decided he had seen enough. 

Earlier tonight, reporting on the Gennady Golovkin-Osumanu Adama I defended what some have called a premature stoppage but I saw less reason for this one. Yes, Selby was dominating and yes Munroe was being hurt in the corner but he was also punching back only seconds before the stoppage – crucially he appeared, to me, to be properly protecting himself. The question of how much these fighters should be allowed to put on the line in protection and pursuit of these titles is not a new one, but my own opinion was that Munroe was fulfilling criteria for being allowed to continue in a European title fight, throwing back against an opponent who was admittedly dominating him.

The counter-argument is that Munroe wasn’t going to win that one even if it was being officiated by a blind referee with somewhere else to be, and that is probably reasonable – but it makes me slightly uncomfortable given the nature of the sport and what was at stake tonight.

Next for Selby should be the world level. He arrived on the British scene in earnest with a stoppage of the ultra-durable Scotsman John Simpson in 2011 and has underlined his superiority to the British scene here. It is time for him to step up to the world class, where he may find his apparent shortage of power a problem.

For Rendall Munroe, I would endorse retirement but this is another area where a questionable stoppage might hurt a fighter in the long run. An ageing fighter with something to prove can be a danger to himself.

Chief support in an excellent supporting card saw Gary Buckland defeat veteran Gavin Rees in a British lightweight title eliminator which will also be firmly in the argument for best domestic fight of the year come January. In a heavyweight encounter, human tombstone and top prospect Anthony Joshua deployed an excellent, hurtful looking jab on his way to busting up game opponent Dorian Darch in two rounds. Darch is a journeyman but had previously extended Hughie Fury the full six rounds underlining his durability – durability that meant nothing in the face of Joshua’s booming shots.

It is still too early to get excited – but I’m excited.

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