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Lee Selby targets Leo Santa Cruz and Gary Russell Jr. in bid to crack America

Lee Selby, left, defeated Fernando Montiel in Arizona last October. Christian Petersen/Getty Images

British boxing is booming at the moment and Lee Selby insists he can be one of its biggest hits on the world stage in 2016.

The Welshman is one of 12 reigning world champions from Britain and is due to make a second defence of his IBF featherweight title against American Eric Hunter in late March.

Selby (22-1, 8 KOs) alerted the boxing world to his silky skills last year with two impressive wins in world title fights against Evgeny Gradovich (WTD 8) and Fernando Montiel (WPTS 12), with his career now being guided by powerful American advisor Al Haymon.

Selby, 28, reckons the link-up with Haymon will land him a big fight against a rival world champion this year that will make him a bigger star than some of his other fellow British world title-holders.

Britain might have a dozen boxers in possession of world titles, but only a handful are big stars outside their own cities. Selby believes fighting in America in unification fights will help him stand out from the crowd.

"At the end of this year I think I will be in a unification fight with WBA champion Leo Santa Cruz or WBC champion Gary Russell Junior," Selby told ESPN.

"That's who I believe I could fight. Or maybe Jesus Cuellar, who still holds the WBA regular title. And they're all signed with Al Haymon, so the fights are easily made and I think I will be involved in one of those towards the end of the year.

"I believe the other British world champions have to be involved in the big unification fights, but not only that, they have to fight in America. That's where the biggest audience is and it's how you become a worldwide star.

"You've got some great fighters just fighting in the UK, but they're only known in the UK and the UK is only a small dot on the map. America is a huge place and they have a worldwide audience."

After making a first defence in the States last October, Selby hopes his next fight is at home in Cardiff, possibly in March and is expecting a rough fight with Hunter (21-3, 11 KOs).

"When it's an American and a mandatory defence it always helps to have home advantage. In an ideal world I'd like three fights a year, two in America and one back home in the UK," said Selby.

"He's a very good fighter, he's from Philadelphia, he boxes out of that old-school Philly shell, behind the shoulder, with that shoulder roll.

"I think he's a rough-hand boxer and I've seen him disqualified twice, once for hitting low and once for hitting on the break. He seems like a tough, rough guy, so I'm looking forward to the challenge. It'll be a proper scrap."

Another "scrap" Barry-resident Selby wants is to travel to Leeds to face unbeaten Josh Warrington next summer. But Selby admits if he does not face Warrington soon then the fight may not happen at all.

"If the fight makes sense it could happen. If I did box one of those unification fights before I boxed Warrington then the fight would be very doubtful," Selby told ESPN. "Say I fought Santa Cruz in America, it'd be hard to come back to the UK to fight Warrington.

"But when I come through this fight successfully then the Warrington fight would always be there for the summer.

"With the Warrington fight, I wouldn't mind going up to Leeds and shutting all those fans up. I went up there working for Sky and they were throwing pints of beer at me. So I wouldn't mind going up there.

"Marching on together? They'd be marching on together with their hands on their heads. They'd be marching away together."