By Tom Walker | Head of Sport
The return of professional boxing has seen some fruitful opportunities for welsh boxers Jay Harris and Lee Selby. Selby, the Cardiff born Lightweight, faces George Kambosos Jr on the Derek Chisora vs Oleksandr Usyk undercard in a world title eliminator on October 31. Harris on the other hand got back to winning ways against Marcel Braithwaite on October 17.
Back in February, Harris finally got his title shot when he faced Julio Cesar Martinez for the WBC flyweight title. Harris put in a gutsy effort, but the quality of Martinez shone through.
The Welshman managed to go the full 12 rounds, but his Mexican opponent won by unanimous decision with the judges scoring the contest 118-109, 116-111 and 115-112 in favour of the champion.
Little did he know that he would have to wait almost eight months for his next fight.
Harris started the Braithwaite fight well, but in the fourth got clocked with a heavy left hook that knocked Harris to his feet. It did not take long for Harris to get back on top, seeing out the remainder of the fight in a controlled fashion.
The judges scored it 98-93, 97-93 and 98-92 in Harris’ favour, granting him the victory.
“It’s good to have a fight like that,” Harris said. “It was a bit sluggish, I got caught with a lot of overhand rights. My fault and I got punished for it. Credit to Marcel, he was as game as they come. I know the scorecards were a bit wide but it was a good fight.”
The 29 year old acknowledged he would have to fight better than that to get another title shot: “I’m looking to push for more world titles, but I have to perform better than that to mix with world level,”
Meanwhile, Lee Selby is one win away from Harris’ desired world title fight, with the victor of Selby’s upcoming fight with Kamboss is in line to be the IBF mandatory challenger for current holder Teofimo Lopez.
Both fighters feel the pressure on this fight, and there have been some strong words exchanged in the build-up. “If you listened to him talk, you’d think he’s the next Muhammad Ali which he’s not.” Selby said, “Looking at his record, it’s difficult to gauge how good he really is.
“This fight has been a long time coming… I’m one step away from a shot at the IBF Lightweight World Title and my dream of becoming Wales’ first ever two-weight World Champion.”
Selby did hold the IBF title from 2015 to 2018, before losing by a controversial split decision to Josh Warrington at Elland Road.
That was only his second ever career loss, and since that Warrington fight in 2018 he has been flawless, beating Omar Douglas and Ricky Burns last year.
Despite what Selby claims, the quality of his opponent has set up a thrilling bout for Halloween night. Kamboss Jnr is undefeated in 18 professional contests, but also has almost 100 amateur fights under his belt and several sparring sessions with Manny Pacquiao.
With all his top-level experience, Lee Selby will obviously back himself heavily and rightly so. The opportunity to fight for a world title is not one that comes around often and Selby will know that more than most, having to fight off challengers who had worked so hard to get a shot at the crown for almost three years. He himself is now having to go through that same process to retain his belt, so do not expect him to go out on a whimper against Kamboss Jnr come October 31.