By Jake Donovan
It goes without saying that it has been a terrific year for boxing brothers Lee and Andrew Selby.
Given their young age and where both are at in their respective careers, it stands to reason that even greater success is forthcoming.
Lee Selby enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2011 that not only proved his worth on the prospect level, but paved the way for big fights in 2012 and possibly beyond; depending on how far he is able to go as the competition level increases.
The latest achievement for the Welsh featherweight – who turns 25 next month – came Wednesday evening when he scored a one-punch body shot fifth round knockout of John Simpson in front of a partisan crowd at York Hall in Bethnal Green.
The win validated his British featherweight title reign, which began with an upset 8th round knockout win over previously unbeaten Stephen Smith in September.
Smith won the crown by beating Simpson for the second time in as many tries, and was heavily favored to defend against Selby. The longshot odds – including some bookmakers offering as high as 100-1 on the Welshman winning by knockout – proved to be a massive payoff for some, on a night Selby described as feeling akin to winning a world title.
A second straight knockout win, this one over the normally durable Simpson who had never before been stopped in nine years as a pro, had Selby believing he was ready to move on to the next level.
“I’m very satisfied; no one has ever stopped Simpson and I feel like a proper champion,” Selby said moments after scoring his fourth win of 2011 to advance to 12-1 (4KO). “I am too big, too strong for British featherweights. I’m ready to move onto European level.”
Selby’s management echoed such sentiments, that the next logical step would be to pursue the European featherweight title. A win in such a fight would bring the belt back to the United Kingdom for the first time in five years, when Nicky Cook reigned as regional titlist before vacating in pursuit of a major championship. The belt has since traveled to France, Italy, Ukraine and back to France.
While older brother Lee eyes bigger game in the pro ranks, younger brother Andrew Selby will have the chance to live out the dream of every amateur boxer as he participates in the 2012 Olympics.
Andrew – who turns 23 on Christmas Day – represents Great Britain in the flyweight division, in a year in which his squad will serve as part of the hosting county with the summer games taking place in London.
The qualifying win capped a remarkable year for the younger Selby, who enjoyed major success at the European Amateur Championships earlier this summer as well as the World Amateur Championships in October. Selby defeated Jasurbek Latipov in a semi-final bout that not only put him in the Gold medal round, but also served as his qualifier for a slot on the 2012 Great Britain Olympic boxing squad.
Selby would eventually fall just short in the Gold medal round of the World games, dropping a heartbreaking 13-12 verdict to Misha Aloyan of Russia to settle for the silver medal in the flyweight division. Still, it came during a remarkable stretch for his fighting family, bookended by the two biggest win of his older brother’s young pro career to date.
Success in the family is the only way they fly, as one can’t seem to succeed without the other.
“We push each other on, we always have,” Lee Selby told Wales Online earlier this week. “When he’s doing well it spurs me on, but the down-side is that when one of us isn’t doing well the other goes down too.
“But we are both right at the top of our game at the moment.”
And perhaps with the very best still to come in the next 12 months and beyond.
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