In an effort to continue his rise up the European rankings, Lee Selby (17-1, 6 KO) will battle fellow Englishman Rendall "2 Tone" Munroe (27-3-1, 11 KO) on Saturday night for the vacant EBU featherweight title and Selby's BBBofC British featherweight title.
At just 26 years old, Selby is one of the best young fighters in England, and he's striving for more. He's headlining Saturday night's card ahead of more established veterans like Gavin Rees and Gary Buckland.
In his last bout, Selby captured the British title with a unanimous decision win over Ryan Walsh. He's got a tough assignment in Munroe, but Selby is determined to continue his winning ways.
Munroe is a well-traveled veteran who could give Selby a difficult time. Munroe will be in the champion's backyard, though. The fight takes place in Cardiff, Wales and Selby is from nearby Barry.
It should be a spirited scrap with an electric atmosphere.
Here's how you can catch the action.
When: Saturday, Feb. 1 at 3 p.m. ET
Where: Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom
TV: Sky Sports
Live Stream: AWE TV
The Book on Selby
After fighting on the road in most of his recent fights, Selby is happy to be performing in front of his hometown fans. When speaking to Phil Blanche of Wales Online, Selby said, "I’ve been on the road most of my career. Even when I started off I was going away as the opponent against the home fighter. I either like to be hated or have all the fans on my side, either way I perform to my best."
He should get the latter situation on Saturday. Clearly an emotional fighter, Selby will have to make sure he maintains his composure against Munroe. While he'll have the crowd's energy to draw on, he doesn't have the experience the challenger brings into the ring.
Acknowledging there were easier fights for Selby, his trainer, Tony Borg, thinks taking on tough opposition like Munroe early in the fighter's career was smart. He told Blanche in an earlier article:
2014 is going to be a world title year for Lee. He could have chosen an easier route over the last 12 months, taken some easy eastern European opponents for argument’s sake and bowled them over in two or three rounds.
But going into a world title fight on the back of two or three quick knockouts would have done him no favors at all.
Instead he’s had some good quality fights, he outpointed [Viorel] Simion with a bad hand and now he’s fighting for a world title.
The European titles are nice, but it's clear Selby wants to be considered elite on a worldwide level. His recent wins have been impressive, but a strong win over Munroe will get the attention of the governing bodies who can give him a title shot.
The Book on Munroe
The 33-year-old from Leicester, Leicestershire has been in the ring with some strong and notable fighters. He owns two wins over current IBF super bantamweight champion Kiko Martinez. He's also beaten Victor Terrazas.
Munroe lost a decision to former world champion Toshiaki Nishioka and had two fights with WBA super bantamweight champion Scott Quigg. The first meeting ended in a draw, and the second bout with Quigg was a loss via sixth-round TKO.
It led to a brief retirement, but as John MacDonald of Live Fight writes, Munroe wasn't motivated to fight the then-unproven Quigg. And he was frustrated that he didn't get a more well-known opponent:
After mixing it with the likes of Kiko Martinez, Victor Terrazas (who both went on to become world champions) as well as Nishioka, the once affectionately known ‘Boxing Binman’ felt he had paid his dues, that he had earned another crack at the elite of the division. Instead of the world title shot he craved, he was handed the talented but untested Quigg.
Munroe added, per MacDonald: "I felt that I’d built up enough of a reputation to be fighting for world titles. No disrespect to Scott Quigg at all but I proved myself!"
Now that Quigg has made a name for himself, that bout doesn't seem like a slap in the face; but things were different then.
In his career, Munroe has faced the type of world-class opposition that should prepare him to tangle with Selby. To compound the edge in experience, Munroe is also a crafty southpaw.
Who wins Selby-Munroe, and how?
If his head is in the fight, Munroe could be an extremely tough test for Selby to pass.
Munroe has the skill set and experience to beat Selby, but believing in him at this point in his career is tough. Once a fighter walks away the way Munroe did in 2012, it seems he may have one foot out of the door moving forward.
The fight with Selby should be a hard-fought, competitive contest. The winner will need to dig deep and come through late in the fight.
If asked which of the two fighters is the hungriest, the answer would have to be Selby. That intangible will be the factor that pushes him to a unanimous-decision win.
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