Selby Defends IBF Crown Against Jon Barros With One Eye on a Unification Fight
By: Phil Oscarson
Former WBA World featherweight champion Jonathon Victor Barros (http://boxrec.com/boxer/244423) fought his way to a split decision over Satoshi Hosono in early October. Barros` 41st professional victory laid the path for a mandatory title shot against Lee Selby (http://www.premierboxingchampions.com/lee-selby) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 28th.
This will only be the third fight in the last year and half for Selby since he took ownership of the IBF belt. Selby has made good on each of his two previous title defenses – both by unanimous decision – since he snatched the IBF World featherweight belt away from Evgeny Gradovich in May of 2015. Barros seems to be all that stands in Selby’s way of big payday unification battle at some point in 2017.
Appeal of a Selby-Gradovich Rematch TKO’d
Sports book review (http://www.sportsbookreview.com/betting-sites/) was primed to set odds on a potential Selby – Gradovich rematch, but Mexico’s unbeaten Oscar Valdez erased that notion in April of last year. The undefeated Valdez hammered the Russian featherweight, winning by TKO at the 2:14 mark in the 4th round.
Boxing enthusiasts are salivating at the idea of a Valdez vs. Selby unifying title fight, but Selby must first handle the experienced Barros. The main event at the MGM in just over three weeks will throw a third belt holder in the unification conversation.
The Argentinian Has Experience
While Selby would appear to be the odds-on favorite to continue as the IBF titleholder, the Argentinean veteran has the ability to drag the fight out, maintaining a punchers chance at an upset. Selby’s only loss came nearly 8 years ago to Samir Mouneimne a high stamina fighter with a knack for taking fights the distance.
Barros built an esteemed record, undefeated with a single draw during the first 8 years of his career. With 28 victories on his card, Barros was given a shot at the WBA featherweight title in early 2010. Cuban Yuriokis Gamboa would hand Barros his first professional loss, but later that same year he would take advantage of another title opportunity, knocking out Panamanian Irving Berry in the 7th round.
Lee Selby has fought only twice in the last year and a half, albeit both were defenses of his IBF crown. Selby has weathered a barrage of criticism from the boxing world for stepping into the ring one single time in 2016.
All the critical comments from boxing experts aside, Selby might need to worry about shaking off a little rust against a seasoned fighter like Barros. While most predictions give little chance for an upset by the 32-year-old former champion, Barros has 46 fights to draw from, almost double the professional fight count of Selby.
Selby’s United Kingdom based promoter Eddie Hearn has even voiced his criticism of his fighter for only taking to the canvas twice since earning the IBF belt. Hearn’s in all honesty has a valid point since Selby has taken an extended vacation since the Welshman defended his title the second time against the Outlaw – American Eric Hunter.
Selby Eyes Frampton Unification Bout
Also looming on the featherweight horizon is another promising unification fight between the winner of January 28th main event Carl Frampton vs. Leo Santa Cruz. Selby has already voiced an interest in stepping into the ring against Frampton, but the undefeated “Jackal” must first defeat Santa Cruz a second time in less than a year. Cruz will be looking to avenge his only professional loss courtesy of Frampton in their July title fight at the Barclays Center in New York.
All indications point to the question of how decisively Lee Selby can defeat Barros, not whether Barros has much of a chance to hoist another belt. Selby should be able to win by a wide decision, laying the groundwork for some intriguing future title matchups. But, he better keep both eyes on Barros and not one on a big payday future fight, or he might end up with the second blemish on his professional fighting record.