Early morning, 27th January 2017 Lee Selby was raring to go and showcase his ability as a world Featherweight champion on the undercard of Frampton v Santa Cruz 2. Fast-foward 2 weeks and the ‘Welsh Mayweather’ is left in disbelief as his opponent was withdrawn due to licensing conditions. IBF world Featherweight champion, Selby, was understandably disappointed, especially as he only fought once in 2016, defeating Eric Hunter over 12 rounds.
Who does Selby fight next has been the question on a lot of British boxing fans minds since January 27th, he has plenty of options but the one we all wanted to see against Carl Frampton will have to wait. There is also the option that the cancelled fight against Barroso will go ahead and the IBF stress he is still the mandatory challenger. But who else is there? Lets take a look…
Oscar Valdez (21-0)
Undefeated Mexican Oscar Valdez currently hold the WBO Featherweight belt after beating Argentine Matias Rueda. This fight is thought to be the preferred option for the Selby camp in an attempt to unify the division, which would overrule the need for a mandatory defence against Barroso.
It would be a very interesting fight for the neutral due to the clash in style. Valdez has won all but 3 of his 21 bouts by knockout, including against Matias Rueda for the WBO crown. His quality as a featherweight really showed against Rueda, who was previously undefeated himself. Both fighters only found out 2 days before the fight, on the undercard of Crawford v Postol, that it would be for the WBO belt but Valdez showed no pressure and sought to attack Rueda from the start, taking just 2 rounds to finish the job.
This would be the most favourable fight for Selby, in my opinion, as it would set up a potentially huge unification clash with Carl Frampton for 3 of the world titles in the division. That is if Frampton can beat Santa Cruz in their third fight that is…
Abner Mares (30-2-1)
The second Mexican on this list, Abner Mares, currently holds the regular version of the WBA Featherweight belt after beating Jesus Cuellar, just 3 months after missing out on the ‘Super’ version to Santa Cruz. Mares is seen as an unlikely option for Selby as the Welshman would have to vacate his IBF belt to make the fight happen.
The less known Mexican is definitely a dangerous character within the Featherweight division, he is a three weight world champion after all. He has won belts at Bantamweight, Super Bantamweight and Featherweight.
If this fight was to happen, it would be a much more underwhelming fight for British boxing fans than the potential of a unification or a domestic clash. Mares is not as highly rated as his Mexican counterpart Valdez and only holds the regular version of the WBA belt, which would only be good for Selby to win to become mandatory for Leo Santa Cruz’s ‘super’ belt.
Josh Warrington (24-0)
Undefeated Yorkshireman Josh Warrington holds the WBC international title, but is second in the IBF rankings so could become the mandatory challenger should Barroso be removed. Undefeated Warrington has even calling Selby out for years and this could be the perfect time to make this domestic clash happen.
Warrington has yet to make the step up to world level, something some people claim he has been avoiding, but his record and previous fights show the quality is there. Both Selby and Warrington have similar styles in the ring, a solid defence with an engine designed to go the distance.
I think this fight would come too soon for Warrington at world level, he needs a fight against someone of world quality before he turns his attention to Selby. If the fight was to happen now, I can only see one outcome and that is a Selby win. The ‘Welsh Mayweather’ would have too much experience for young Josh Warrington, but it would be another intriguing domestic clash nonetheless.