Lee Selby made the announcement yesterday that his time in the squared circle had run its course, drawing the curtain on a 27 year boxing career that yielded more than a few titles along the way.
Having followed his career from its infancy I read his statement with a feeling of sadness but ultimately knowing that it was the right decision taken at the right time.
A rare breed of fighter, Lee Selby went the traditional way of winning titles, its a common theme to witness young fighters come from the amateurs in a hurry to get fast tracked to world rankings but the boy from Barry was eager to work his apprenticeship, to mimic fighters from a bygone era.
The path he walked was perilous but I had the privilege to account the actions for TopClassBoxing and Bocsio Magazine respectively.
I vividly remember his debut in July 2008 on the undercard of Dai Davies Vs. Jamie Arthur where he gained a points victory over Sid Razak at the Newport Centre.
It was against the man that was headlining on the night of his debut that he would secure his first title win, The Welsh Area crown that he secured with a knockout win over Merthyr’s Dai Davies.
The Celtic title was next on the checklist which was added following a stoppage win over James Ancliff before Selby was highlighted to a wider audience in his brilliant stoppage of Stephen Smith for the British and Commonwealth crowns.
Now he had gained notoriety within British boxing, dipping his toe into International waters in crowning himself WBC International champion which was gained via decision over Viorel Simion.
Ryan Walsh, Randall Munroe, Joel Brunker were all batted away along the way to what was thought to be his most potent threat, Evgeny Gradovich a known rough, tough Russian who was unbeaten coming into the contest.
I remember talking to Lee in the run up to the contest for a feature I was writing for Bocsio with the lingering feeling afterwards that he was a fighter not to be denied, never overawed but ready to fulfill his destiny.
Money flowed on Gradovich beforehand but Selby as he had throughout his career remained composed, round by round he systematically broke down the champion with a performance that oozed confidence in lifting the missing piece of the jigsaw, the IBF Featherweight World championship.
Even writing this I find myself in disbelief of the road less travelled that Selby embarked upon.
In the immortal words from the song ‘My Way’ I’m left with the one sentence to sum up this feat.
Yes, there were times I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my wayMy Way – Frank Sinatra
You certainly did Lee, as a Proud Welshman myself,I thank you for the memories which are more than I could put in the spaces of this article whilst wishing you every happiness and success for wherever life takes you next.
Official Statement from Lee Selby:
“After 27 years as an amateur and professional boxer, I know the time is right for me to hang up the gloves,”
“Being raised on the council estate in Barry, south Wales, you learn early on about adversity. For many young people the burden of growing up in poverty takes its toll, but boxing saved me more than I ever thought possible.”
“I am forever grateful to my mum and dad who took me and my brothers to Rhoose Amateur Boxing Club and Craig Smyth who always supported me. I had around 90 amateur contests, but it was my brother Andrew who was thestar attraction for the Selby family in the amateurs,” he added.
“I had to do things the hard way, going the traditional route winning every possible title along the way including the Welsh, Celtic, British, Commonwealth, European and IBF world title. I won the Lonsdale belt outright and successfully defended my world title on five occasions.
“Of my 32 professional contests, 22 of those bouts were either title fights or 12-round contests. I am proud to be the 12th Welshman to win a world title and my name will now forever sit in the record books alongside those great fighters. When I look back on my career, I have realised everything I set out to achieve.
“My biggest thank you goes to all my fans, your support over the years has been incredible. I exit the ring with no regrets, happy, healthy and with my family financially secure. Boxing has been my life and I am sure my involvement in the sport will continue in the years to come as I look to set new goals.”