- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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LOS ANGELES -- There will be one particularly interested observer in the crowd for the Leo Santa Cruz-Abner Mares featherweight fight that headlines the Premier Boxing Champions card (ESPN, 10 ET) at the Staples Center on Saturday night.
Featherweight titleholder Lee Selby (21-1, 8 KOs), of Wales, is in town with manager Chris Sanigar to watch the fight from ringside knowing that he is a likely future opponent for the winner or even the loser (if the loser turns in a good performance).
Selby recently signed with adviser Al Haymon, the PBC creator who also guides the careers of Santa Cruz and Mares, not to mention other featherweight titleholders Gary Russell Jr. and Jesus Cuellar, and junior featherweight titlist Carl Frampton, who struggles to make weight and will soon be a featherweight.
I sat with Selby and Sanigar on Friday during the open workout for Andre Berto, who is getting ready to challenge welterweight champion and pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather on Sept. 12. Sanigar made their plans clear.
He wants Selby to become a dominant featherweight force in the United States.
"Lee's next fight will be here [in the United States], ideally on the East Coast," Sanigar said.
Selby will be on an upcoming PBC card, possibly Oct. 14 on ESPN.
"We're just waiting for Al to give us the date, but we're excited to fight in America and be on TV here," Sanigar said.
Selby's opponent could be Mexico's Fernando Montiel (54-4-2, 39 KOs), a former three-division titlist, but Sanigar also said they would like the loser of Saturday's fight -- if the loser proves worthy -- and then a big fight with the winner, in America.
The 28-year-old Selby got a mandatory title shot against Russia's Evgeny Gradovich on May 30 and dominated him to win the belt by eight-round technical decision. An accidental head butt left Gradovich cut and unable to continue, but Selby had been winning easily to that point.