Selby takes forgotten path to top

When Lee Selby slipped to a four-round points defeat against Samir Mouneimne at Fenton Manor Sports Complex, Stoke-on-Trent, few would have predicted he would rise to the heights he has now scaled.

Lee Selby celebrates after winning the IBF world featherweight belt (Photo: Lee Selby, Twitter)

Lee Selby celebrates after winning the IBF world featherweight belt (Photo: Lee Selby, Twitter)

The May 2009 loss came in his fifth professional fight, and the smart money would surely have been on a career of obscurity for the featherweight.

It did, indeed, prove a long road back for the Barry man, but in claiming the IBF featherweight title from Evgeny Gradovich the self-styled ‘Welsh Mayweather’ has become his country’s 12th world champion.

He has followed a path rarely trodden by many modern prospects, who are often given the opportunity to build long unbeaten records against easy opposition to smooth their route to a world title.

Selby slowly, quietly rebuilt after the Mouneimne defeat, winning Welsh Area and Celtic titles to earn his shot at Stephen Smith’s British and Commonwealth belts – which he claimed with a stunning upset win on the champion’s own turf.

Such a route to the top is far from unusual in the history of the game, though, nor in the history of great Welsh champions.

The likes of Tommy Farr, Frank Moody, Tommy West and Johnny Basham had awful early records, while the results of fighters like Robbie Regan, Eddie Morgan and Steve Robinson were at best mixed at the start of their careers as they learnt the professional game.

Percy Jones drew his first fight before embarking on a long unbeaten run that would see him become Wales’ first world champion.

Enzo Maccarinelli lost his fourth professional fight before himself building an impressive winning run that would make him Swansea’s first world champion.

‘Big Macc’ would become just the third Welshman to win British, Commonwealth, European and world crowns, following Freddie Welsh and Nathan Cleverly.

Selby has now become the fourth and now looks ready to start setting his own milestones…

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