Featherweight world titleholder Lee Selby is from Wales and is here in the United States on business. Important business.
Selby aims to successfully defend his 126-pound title for the first time and then move into major fights. That he why signed earlier this year with adviser Al Haymon, who has a number of quality featherweights in his stable, including titleholders Leo Santa Cruz, Gary Russell and Jesus Cuellar.
But before any of those potential fights can become reality Selby has to get past former three-division titleholder Fernando Montiel on Wednesday night (ESPN, 9 ET) on a Premier Boxing Champions card at the Gila River Arena is Glendale, Arizona.
“Hopefully, I can win and look good,” said Selby, who will be fighting in the United States for the first time. “I'd like a big fight with a champion like Leo Santa Cruz. I've seen him mention my name and I'd like that fight.”
Santa Cruz, a former bantamweight and junior featherweight titleholder, won a majority decision and vacant world title against former titleholder Abner Mares in an action-packed PBC on ESPN fight on Aug. 29. Selby (19-4-1, 4 KOs), 28, who has trained in Southern California for his recent fights, was already in the United States getting ready for Montiel and was ringside for the fight scouting his potential opponent.
First up, however, is Montiel (54-4-2, 39 KOs), 36, a battle-tested veteran from Mexico whose world titles came in smaller weigh classes: flyweight, junior bantamweight and bantamweight. Montiel has won eight fights in a row at junior featherweight and featherweight.
“There are no different emotions this time. I'm just really excited and looking forward to putting on a great show like I always do,” Selby said of fighting in the United States for the first time. “Training camp was pretty standard, so I don't feel any different.
“[Montiel is] a former world champion with the definite experience advantage. But age is on my side. I should be younger and fresher.”
In the main event, former welterweight and junior welterweight titleholder Devon Alexander (26-3, 14 KOs), 28, of St. Louis, will meet battle-tested journeyman Aron Martinez (19-4-1, 4 KOs), 33, a Los Angeles-based native of Mexico.
On May 30, Selby won a world title in London when he dominated Russia's Evgeny Gradovich en route to an eight-round technical decision victory. The fight was cut short because Gradovich suffered a cut over his right eye from an accidental head butt and was unable to continue.
Although Selby is going to fight in America for the first time, he has been training for fights in Southern California for quite some time.
“My manager [Chris Sanigar] has been coming to California for years to visit family. He made visits to a lot of the gyms here and realized that this was the place for me to train,” Selby said. “It was his idea for me to come over and I've been training at Maywood Boxing Club for this fight. I came over just before Leo Santa Cruz versus Abner Mares and trained for a couple weeks.
“Then I flew home for a few weeks before coming back to California in late September to finish things up. So I've been in the U.S. for about a month total training for this one, but I've been training in the U.S. for my last seven fights.”
When the fight is over, Selby will head home to Wales. He hopes to have a victory on his record, a clear path to a bigger fight and something waiting for him at home.
“I'll be ready for a big piece of cheesecake with my family and my daughter,” he said. “She's 14 months old. And my girlfriend is pregnant, so she can't travel. So I've got a lot waiting for me back home.”