Lee Selby in same class as Nathan Cleverly – Tony Borg
TRAINER Tony Borg is tipping Lee Selby to do a Nathan Cleverly after another inspired defence of his Commonwealth title at the Newport Centre this weekend.
The 25-year old St Joseph’s trained fighter was far too strong for game Ghanaian Patrick Okine and won with a fourth successive stoppage in an action-packed fifth round.
Already a British and Commonwealth king at featherweight, Selby’s camp is now targeting a European title shot against Alex Miskirtchian with Selby the mandatory challenger for his crown.
And just like Cefn Fforest fighter Cleverly, Borg is confident his man can win British, Commonwealth and European titles en route to becoming a world champion.
“It’s time now for Lee to get a crack at the European title and I promise you, he will absolutely massacre the European champion, he’ll steamroller him,” he said.
“Lee just gets better and better and better and we want to keep him active because he’s coming for a world title, there isn’t a doubt in my mind.”
Barry boy Selby had promised to box clever against dangerous opponent Okine, nicknamed ‘The Mallet’ and he stuck to his gameplan for four rounds, working behind his left jab and boxing at range, enough to take all four sessions on the cards.
However, he positively exploded into life in the fifth, a straight right hand trapping Okine on the ropes in his corner as the shots landed from all directions.
Okine desperately tried to cover up and briefly manoeuvred himself away, but Selby’s left jab forced Okine back again and a tidal wave of punches poured in with around 30 unanswered shots (some landing, some not) eventually taking a cumulative effect as Okine crumbled after a left hand to the body.
He slowly got to his feet but spat out his gumshield and looked unsteady, prompting Terry O’Conner to wave the fight off after 56 seconds.
“That was good, I wanted to get rid of any ring rust (Selby six months inactive) and I was pleased,” he said. “He’s a tough boy and he had more power than anyone else I have faced, but I was pleased, I enjoyed myself.”
Elsewhere on the card it was a mixed night for Gwent fighters.
Blackwood’s Craig Evans continued to show why he’s catching the eye with a destructive first round win over Dougie Curran.
Curran was meant to be a step up in class for Evans – now 7-0 – and he did take a few more shots than his corner would have enjoyed – but his power and tenacity caught the eye.
Some bombing straight rights and combinations bloodied Curran and he pulled himself out by retreating to his corner complaining of breathing difficulty. It had been hoped Evans would get more rounds under his belt but his Joe Calzaghe-like knockout ratio continued as he secured a fourth stoppage win in seven outings.
“I felt great out there, really strong and hopefully now I can start boxing some eight-rounders and build towards a British title fight,” the lightweight explained.
That was the good but it was a tough night for Newport debutant Jerome Samuels. Samuels was meant to make his debut a week earlier and should’ve done, his choice of opponent on Friday being Gary Lockett trained Lewis Rees.
Rees, like Evans, is a classy young operator and this looked a horrible mismatch for a debutant and so it proved, Jerome down four times in two sessions before it was waved off. Samuels, son of Paul, has a decent amateur record and questions will be asked in his camp about the decision to fight Rees on debut.
Another eye-catching performance came from Olympic medallist Frankie Gavin, who produced a masterclass to become the first British fighter to stop durable Hungarian Laszlo Komjathi.
Gavin was irrepressible and retired his opponent on his stool after five one-sided sessions.
It was also a good night for ‘Team Cleverly’ after Vince Cleverly-trained Liam Williams looked good in beating Gilson De Jesus 40-36 on the referee’s card.
Liverpool’s Liam ‘Beefy’ Smith enhanced his reputation by stopping Andrew Patterson in the first after three knockdowns.
However, the big disappointment of the evening was for Cardiff’s Francis Luke Robinson, son of Steve, who lost a close one to compatriot Tony Pace.
Your Argus correspondent scored the four rounder level, but there couldn’t be any serious complaints about the 39-38 verdict in Pace’s favour.
Former world champions Enzo Maccarinelli and Barry Jones both watched the action from ringside as part of the BoxNation broadcast team.