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Selby defends IBF title on American debut with Warrington observing

Welshman Lee Selby successfully defended his IBF featherweight title on his American debut against veteran Mexican Fernando Montiel with a unanimous decision, with next year’s potential opponent Josh Warrington having been keeping a close eye on the fierce and savage contest.

The 28-year-old prevailed comfortably on the judge’s scorecards in Phoenix, Arizona, but they didn’t reveal the whole story, as Selby was involved in a gruelling 12 rounds with a defiant 36-year-old former three-weight world champion.

Despite the scores reading 119-109 118-110 and 116-112 in his favour, the featherweight champion had to dig deep and come through a truly fierce battle on American soil in what was his first defence since claiming the IBF strap from Evgeny Gradovich in May this year.

Boxing - The O2 Arena

The Barry-born boxer started brightly and found his range in the opening round, getting his Mexican counterpart’s attention with swift counter-punches behind a searching jab, with a solid right hand later stunning Montiel in the third.

Although, this only forced a strong response from the determined Mexican, as he battled back aggressively to force Selby onto the back foot and even inflicted a worrying cut above the Welshman’s right eye in the sixth.

Despite lacking his usual velocity and pinpoint timing, Selby regained control and composure to begin to capitalise on his tiring opponent, holding off a late charge in the final round to assure victory, after all three judges favoured his overall cleaner outing.

Boxing - The O2 Arena

In spite of his battling maiden defence, Selby was still disappointed in his performance, dissatisfied that he had not given the American fans a better glimpse of his slick and concise ring talents.

“My jab, reach and speed were my biggest advantages tonight,” said the champion. “That was how I got the win. All the cuts I’ve had in my career have come against shorter fighters like [Montiel]. When I got cut tonight in the sixth round it was the same thing. I caught a head butt.

“I was honestly disappointed in my performance tonight. I got the win and it was a great feeling to get my first one on US soil, but the fans didn’t see me at my best, and a big part of that was Montiel’s experience. He’s a great fighter.”

Boxing - The O2 Arena

Commonwealth champion Warrington is tipped as a potential opponent for Selby in his next IBF title defence in 2016, and the undefeated Leeds fighter was critical of what he witnessed from the featherweight belt holder in America.

“I’ve got three pages down here, I’ve been writing down quite a bit,” Warrington added after watching Selby’s latest bout.

“I’ve been saying for the last couple of years that there’s things we could probably do, if it works or not who knows, but we believe we’re ready to beat him. I’ve got to keep on winning and hope he keeps champ and then it could pay off.”

Boxing - First Direct Arena

The pair were previously touted for a showdown at Elland Road next year, an all-British battle which would undoubtedly generate a mass following in Warrington’s home city, and Selby’s hard-fought defence could see that encounter soon be agreed.

Selby’s brutal match-up came just days before another huge weekend of boxing in the United States, as Kazakhstan bruiser Gennady Golovkin prepares for a mammoth middleweight meeting with fellow hard-hitter David Lemieux.

Fan-favourite ‘GGG’ is odds-on 1/14 to triumph by knockout and extend his rampant unbeaten record in New York, while Canadian devastator Lemieux is 9/1 to cause a huge upset with a stoppage in what is sure to be an enthralling clash.

Watch highlights of Lee Selby successfully defending his IBF featherweight strap against veteran Mexican fighter Fernando Montiel in Arizona.

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