LONDON — Lee Selby has had a terrible week and a successful defence of his IBF world featherweight title via a unanimous points decision over Jonathan Barros on Saturday did not change that.
Selby will always associate his third world title defence with the death of his mother Frankie, who passed away suddenly on Tuesday. But Selby should also look back on this performance with pride after controlling Barros and flooring him in the last round to earn scores of 119-108, 117-110 and 117-110.
The Welshman courageously went through with the fight at the SSE Arena, Wembley, and was able to produce a commanding performance full of smart boxing and sublime movement to clinch a victory which puts him in line for the big fights against the division’s top names that have so far eluded him.
“It doesn’t seem real right now, I’ve been away from home and my family, I’ve turned off my home and I’ve spoken to no one,” said Selby.
“If I told people what I was thinking right now I would be put in a straitjacket. I never thought I wouldn’t fight, I’m a fighter.”
Selby boxed at range, with dazzling footwork and boxing skills, to subdue Barros and then send him tumbling to the canvas with a left hook to the temple in the 12th round.
Top of Selby’s wish list for his next opponent is former WBA champion Carl Frampton (23-1, 14 KOs) who was a ringside spectator in north London.
“Nothing in the ring fazes me,” said Selby. “Carl Frampton probably fancies it because I got caught a bit, it’s a fight I would love and I’m sure he would too.”
Frampton fights Mexican Andres Gutierrez in a non-title bout in his home city of Belfast on July 29.
“I would like to fight again before the end of year and Selby makes sense but at the moment I’m only thinking about Gutierrez,” Frampton said.
Selby (25-1, 9 KOs), 30, was desperate to fight after being kept waiting for the next defence of his world crown.
Selby and Barros 41-5-1, 22 KOs) should have fought on Jan. 28 but the fight was called off with 24 hours’ notice after the challenger failed to meet the Nevada Athletic Commission’s licensing conditions and reportedly failed a medical. Barros resolved his medical issues and, as mandatory challenger, Selby had to wait for him.
Selby had a ninth-round stoppage win over Andoni Gago in a non-title fight on Mar. 4, but had not defended his belt since a points win over American Eric Hunter in April last year.
Despite what had happened earlier in the week, Selby was able to produce a hugely impressive performance. His movement around the ring left Barros at his mercy as he punished him with a reliable jab.
Selby landed a decent straight right in the third amid a dominant start full of energy and balletic grace.
There is not a British boxer that moves around the ring as fluidly as Selby, who has regular training camps in American gyms.
Barros, 33, was attempting to become a two-time world champion after reigning as WBA world champion from 2010 to 2011 but the Argentine was never in the contest.
Selby had to contend with a cut by the right eye from the fifth round, caused by a clash of heads. It seemed to disrupt Selby slightly and in the seventh Barros suddenly seemed energised as he tried to tie up the champion and landed swinging hooks.
But it was a brief interval to Selby’s domination and in the last round the Briton almost stopped Barros when he caught him with a left hook to the temple at close range. Barros was sent tumbling head over heels but got back up to finish the fight.