Welsh Dragon: Selby’s Rising Star

By Mohummad Humza Elahi on June 1, 2015
Welsh Dragon: Selby’s Rising Star
As Wales celebrates another world champion, who else might follow in his footsteps?

Lee Selby was brash and a bit cocky, often showboating but a technically sound and slightly unorthodox fighter…

Back in 2013, I wrote for another site that Barry, Wales native Lee Selby was one to watch amongst the current crop of British talent rising through the professional ranks; it was easy to see why. At that point, Selby was brash and a bit cocky, often showboating but a technically sound and slightly unorthodox fighter. Saturday night at the O2 in London on the Kell Brook-Frankie Gavin undercard, he improved to 21-1 (8 KOs) against highly touted “El Ruso Mexicano” Evegny Gradovich (19-1, 9 KOs) to capture the IBF featherweight title.

Fighting out of the blue corner, Selby carried both a height and reach advantage over the unbeaten Gradovich and along with a home turf advantage this was one of his best chances to win a world title. 

Round 1:

They meet in the center and after a couple of quick jabs from Selby, Gradovich immediately tries to counter with two right hands. Gradovich remains determined to hold the center of the ring and walk Selby down and although he gets hit with some sharp shots, he lands a couple of his own. A close opener with lots of action, both men seem comfortable and ready to settle into the fight.

Rounds 2-3:

Selby looks to establish the jab and maintain his range but Gradovich’s movement is just throwing his timing off slightly, that counter/lead left hook from Gradovich is starting to find its mark. As the round wears on Selby starts finding his rhythm and uncorks a lovely left hand the last 30 seconds. Selby is showing some real flashes of talent. Gradovich lands a couple at the bell but Selby still looks comfortable and more assured. Gradovich starts the third by finding Selby with that left hook, but Selby re-groups and continues the tone from the second, using his feet to shimmy and slide around and catching Gradovich coming in. A couple of nice shots from Selby followed by a clean left AGAIN by Gradovich closed the round but the Welshman takes it well. Gradovich is getting marked and Selby is inching forward on the cards.

Rounds 4-5:

No change of plan from Gradovich means no change in plan for Selby, as the Russian comes out to do more of the same albeit at a higher tempo but Selby makes the adjustment and continues to catch him coming in. However, as the round wears on and Gradovich shows no signs of slowing, Selby is moving a touch slower and allowing Gradovich to gets some work done, probably winning his first clear round of the fight. The fifth starts with a brighter looking Russian, gaining confidence by continuing to pressure Selby, pinning him to the ropes and throwing combinations. For all the volume, only a few were connecting cleanly and signs of frustration were showing. I think he took the round and his corner urged him to carry on, he’s started to close the gap…

Rounds 6-7:

Some sharp words must have been uttered in the Selby corner as he comes out with more energy to start the round, using his movement to open up angles. After a short stoppage to get his laces tied, Selby catches the Russian with a short right, wobbling him but Gradovich does well to stay on his feet. Selby continues to catch him with some great shots and Gradovich looks notably slower. Selby closes the round with a measured jab and straight right hand and goes back to his corner very pleased with his work. Gradovich recovered some by opening the seventh coming forward but lacking the sharpness of the previous rounds, the accumulation of damage is evident. Selby lets another crisp left hand fly and Gradovich comes in unbalanced and halfway into the round, Gradovich is cut from what looks like a clash of heads. The cut is giving him trouble and it’s turning Selby’s white gloves pink but he works through it. Another Selby right hand followed by a left finishes the round.

Round 8:

The cut is more towards Gradovich’s right temple than around the eye and Selby goes straight to work on it, pawing with the jab and winging with left hands. Selby still looks light on his feet despite Gradovich’s relentless pressure. The referee calls time to look at a cut but not the one on the temple; another cut has opened directly above Gradovich’s left eye and the doctor has seen enough!  Referee Deon Dwarte waves it off as Gradovich shows no protests. 

Next in Line

Lee Selby becomes Wales’ twelfth world champion and in classy fashion. Gradovich is no tomato can and should be commended for taking this fight in the first place and Selby proved he does belong at a world level, but the question that’s always posed is “who is next?”

In a post-fight video, unbeaten Josh Warrington (21-0) was mentioned as well as plans for two voluntary defences before a possible unification bout. Warrington is Selby’s nearest domestic rival but the big names out there are Nicholas Walters, Vasyl Lomachenko, Gary Russell Jr., Jesus Cuellar, Jhonny Gonzalez and Leo Santa Cruz.  Not to mention anyone in and around 126 lbs. who fancies their chances. Is Selby at that level? I think he would match up well against Gary Russell Jr. but may find himself in trouble against punchers like Walters and Cuellar. But with a smart plan and a bit of luck, he could eke out a victory against either one. 

This guy is a real talent and it’s great to see a new batch of fighters to watch, making their attempt to break out onto the world stage. As Wales celebrates another world champion, who else might follow in his footsteps?

Ones to Watch

Picking prospects is always a great job; it has all the hallmarks of a fantasy sports game although the eventual payoff could only come several years later. These are ones that have caught my eye.

Ohara Davies (Lightweight — 7-0, 5 KOs): Disclosure, I have seen this guy spar at the TRAD TKO Gym and his power is something scary. A taller lightweight, he’s very quick and very confident in his ability. Has to progress through the ranks like everyone else but he’s an enormous talent and currently signed to Eddie Hearns’ Matchroom Boxing, so expect to see him feature on those cards. 

Luke Campbell (Lightweight — 11-0, 9 KOs): Another in the lightweight class and better known amongst British fans, Campbell came to prominence in the amateurs, winning bantamweight gold at the 2012 Olympics.He’s come to the pro ranks later in his career, but with a stellar amateur background will be carefully matched before taking a domestic title. The jury may still be out on if he can compete at the world level, especially at lightweight. Also signed to Eddie Hearn.

Callum Smith (Super Middleweight — 16-0, 12 KOs): Has blasted his way to a WBC Silver title shot against Christopher Rebrasse at the end of June, which will be a step up for him. There’s a deep pool of British super-middleweights to compete against and will be given a chance to step up to the occasion. Again, Eddie Hearn has him signed to Matchroom Boxing, so there’s clearly a pattern forming.

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Evgeny Gradovich vs Lee Selby / Евгений Градович - Ли Селби full fight 30.05.2015

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  1. Kid Blast 03:51pm, 06/04/2015

    Great account

  2. Mohummad Humza Elahi 08:45am, 06/02/2015

    Irish - I think that’s about right,  although Selby can take a shot I wouldn’t put him in with a Walters right now.

  3. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 05:55pm, 06/01/2015

    MHE-Gradovich comes on late but it didn’t work this time because Selby with this foreknowledge capitalized big time…..still…both cuts from head butts and a pretty quick stoppage, whether Gradovich protested or not. Jhonny Gonzales or even Leo Santa Cruz….seem about right….. the others you cite….not so much.

  4. nicolas 12:13pm, 06/01/2015

    I think two of the fights were really good. I thought Mitchell would lose, but he gave a good go of it. Had he not busted up like he did, he might be champ today. I thought Selby would win, and he did. But really, the other two were just massacres. I guess two out of four is not bad.

  5. Koolz 11:29am, 06/01/2015

    I have to say this was an incredible Card!  From the very first fight all the way to the Champion Rounds!
    It was Fantastic!
    Evegny Gradovich, what a joke, no Plan B, C, D, or anything.


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