Frampton v Warrington: Lee Selby left to rue 'what might have been'

By Michael PearlmanBBC Wales Sport
Josh Warrington v Lee Selby
Lee Selby and Josh Warrington's fight was staged at a packed Elland Road

While boxing fans anticipate the IBF world featherweight showdown between Carl Frampton and Josh Warrington on Saturday, for one man it is going to be an evening to miss.

Because for former world champion Lee Selby, there is going to be a strong sense of what might have been.

Selby dreamed of facing Frampton, but his hopes of a million-pound pay day evaporated when he lost to Warrington.

"You don't want to think about it," the 31-year-old told BBC Sport Wales.

A big pay day that never was

Warrington made history in May by becoming the first man from Leeds to win a world boxing title, taking a stunning split-decision upset victory over Wales' Selby at Elland Road.

Warrington, 27, came into the fight as a 4-1 outsider with the bookmakers but produced the performance of a lifetime to stun Selby, who had been unbeaten in nine years as a professional.

That scuppered plans for Selby and Frampton to fight this winter, with Selby agreeable to allowing the fight to be staged in Frampton's Belfast stronghold to maximise his pay day.

Featherweight rivals Carl Frampton and Josh Warrington, with promoter Frank Warren (centre)
Carl Frampton and Josh Warrington face each other in Manchester on Saturday

Indeed, Selby says he only remained at featherweight in order to secure the biggest fights and purses possible, which was supposed to begin with a showdown against Frampton.

"If I beat Warrington, it was a three-fight deal I had with [promoter] Frank Warren," Selby said.

"Obviously the idea was to go to Belfast and face Frampton and it would have been my biggest pay day.

"But that's gone now, you try not to think too much about what might have been."

A change of weight for 2019

Selby will now move up two weight divisions to lightweight and try to become a two-weight world champion. He was set to return to the ring this month, but will now fight in early 2019.

The Barry boxer feels his career will reignite as he moves up the ranks, admitting it is a move he should have made sooner.

"I have moved up two weight divisions now and there is a lot less pressure on me not having to make the championship weight at nine stone," he said.

"That was the main battle for me, making the weight, it had become extremely hard. I never made that public, it would have been stupid for me to do so.

"I kept it to myself and didn't moan about it, I just carried on. I am a professional and I just did it, I never moaned I couldn't make the weight, it would be impossible for me to do that, my brain doesn't work that way, I don't make excuses.

"I am moving from a stacked featherweight division to a stacked lightweight division, with some pound-for-pound (best in the world) fighters at my new weight. But I will take on anyone, there are more options for me, I want and expect to be fighting at a world level again.

"There will be no easing into it, I am a natural lightweight and in my last few fights I wasn't a featherweight, I was just too boiled down, I lost too much power.

"In my gym I am known as a puncher, but that has been forgotten in the last few years. I should have moved up after my first defence. The lack of power has been evident since then."

Top Stories

Elsewhere on the BBC