If the scorecards of the three ringside judges were any indication, Lee Selby put on one heck of a performance in his American debut.
Selby, a 126-pound champion from Barry, Wales, in the U.K., successfully defended his title with a lopsided unanimous decision over former three-time champ Fernando Montiel, prevailing by scores of 116-112, 118-110 and 119-109.
As impressed as the judges were with Selby (22-1, 8 KOs), there’s only one opinion the Welshman truly cares about: his own. And from the 28-year-old’s viewpoint, his showing against Montiel in Glendale, Arizona, wasn’t nearly as good as it could’ve—or should’ve—been.
“I have very high standards, and that wasn’t the best of me in [Arizona] at all,” Selby said upon landing back in Britain. “I was missing with far too many shots, and I feel I can deliver a lot more than that. “Fair play to Montiel—he was very tricky, very difficult to hit—but I should have backed him up a lot more. I should have been more accurate in my work, and above all I should not have got hit anywhere near as many times as I did.”
To be clear, Selby doesn’t dispute the judges’ decision—he believes he beat Montiel. However, he agrees with some ringside observers at Gila River Arena who thought the fight was much more closely contested than the scorecards would indicate.
“Do I think [the judges] were a bit generous? Yes, to be honest I do,” Selby says. “Montiel fought a better fight than that, but boxing scoring can do that sometimes. I reckon I was winning almost every round, but only by relatively small margins. Therefore, although it looks as though you are not winning by a lot, the judges have to give you the round. Then another and another. It means I won the fight, but by a bigger margin than some people expected.
“Having said all that, against a very strong opponent, I felt I did more than enough to win.”
As self-critical as he is, Selby acknowledges that “sometimes you have to accept that you are going to have an average day in the office.” He also notes that even though he wasn’t at what he perceives to be his best, he still took care of his business against a high-caliber opponent.
“I think the performance I put in underlines that I do definitely belong at that level, because even on a bad day I came home with the win—the only thing that matters in boxing,” he says. “It wasn’t in the way I wanted, but I will learn by the experience.”
Which leads to the next obvious question: What’s next for Lee Selby? The 126-pound division is loaded with some high-caliber boxers, including one big name that “The Barry Boy Assassin” is eyeing.
“Leo Santa Cruz is someone who I have seen at close hand, as I saw his recent fight with Abner Mares,” says Selby, referring to Santa Cruz’s unanimous-decision victory over Mares on August 29. “He is an opponent I would love to face. There are others as well—but one thing is for certain, I want to get out there straight away and keep busy. I don’t like extended periods between fights, because I love the thrill of fighting. I would box every week if I could.”
For complete coverage of Selby vs Montiel, check out our fight page.