By Jake Donovan
Lee Selby made the first successful defense of his British featherweight title with a fifth round stoppage of former titlist John Simpson in their main event Wednesday evening at York Hall in Bethnal Green, London, England.
Boasting a flair for the dramatic, Simpson went right to work in the opening round in hopes of securing yet another upset. His aggressive attack caught Selby off guard, disallowing the Welshman to plant his feet and get off his punches. The tactic proved effective on the cards and in visual aid, leaving Selby nicked up.
However, the attack also awoke a sleeping giant, as Selby quickly resumed control. Simpson was still scoring with the occasional power shot upstairs, but for the most part was kept at the end of Selby’s jab as the Welshman picked up the pace considerably in rounds two and three.
There was a case to be made that Simpson was landing the more telling blows, as opposed to favoring Selby’s superior workrate. What was clear was that Selby grew more comfortable in his attack as the fight wore on, while Simpson’s punch output was limited to looking for one home run swing at a time.
Simpson took a chance and opened up more in the fourth, only to leave himself open for Selby’s counters. It was also a round in which Selby planted his feet and threw punches with far more conviction, keeping the Scot off balance and at bay.
Selby grew more confident with each passing round, a strategy that reaped major dividends in the fifth. Simpson believed he had in front of him an overconfident fighter, scoring with a right hand while Selby’s guard was briefly down.
The shot was thought to be a momentum changer, but proved to be the exact opposite. Selby stepped to his side and caught Simpson with a perfectly placed left hook to the ribs. Simpson crumpled to his knees and struggled to beat the count, but still wasn’t alert enough to convince the referee that he was fit to continue.
The official time was 2:02 of round five.
Selby improves to 12-1 (4KO) with the win, his fourth of 2011. The Welshman had never previously scored a stoppage prior to last October, but has now racked up four in his last five fights.
Simpson has now dropped three of his last four as he falls to 22-9 (7KO). The fight marked the first time he was stopped in his nine-year career, a statistic that leaves Selby believing he's ready to move on to bigger and better things.
"This sends a major message that I'm ready to move on from the domestic level and go on to the European," said Selby afterward, a reference to his manager's promise of securing a shot at the European featherweight title in 2012.
In earlier results:
Steve O’Meara needed just 51 seconds to dispatch Nathan Weise in their chief support bout. O’Meara (15-2, 4KO) has won three straight, including his last two wins by first round knockout.
Lasting just slightly longer, Billy Joe Saunders continues to develop as one of the game’s more promising prospect. The 2008 British Olympic boxer caps a 5-0 campaign in 2011 with a first round knockout of Tommy Tolan, ending matters in just 67 seconds. Saunders (12-0, 8KO) has already secured his first fight of 2012, as he is slated to return on January 27 in Liverpool.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to JakeNDaBox@gmail.com