By Edward Chaykovsky
IBF featherweight champion Lee Selby (23-1, 8KOs) has big plans in store for the new year, but first he needs to eliminate mandatory challenger Jonathan Victor Barros (41-4-1, 22KOs) from his path.
Selby actually flew to Japan last week to watch Barros, a former world champion himself, defeat Satoshi Hosono in a final eliminator last Saturday.
Selby hopes to have that fight happen as soon as possible. He is already targeting December to get Barros out of the way. He last saw action in April, when he decisioned mandatory challenger Eric Hunter as part of the Anthony Joshua vs. Charles Martin card at the O2 Arena in London.
Selby's goal is a unification fight with WBA champion Carl Frampton, who unseated Leo Santa Cruz in July. But there is a rematch clause, and Frampton may face Santa Cruz for a second time in December - which is why Selby wants his mandatory to come and go.
"Barros is next and it needs to be done before early January, but I want it done as soon as possible, hopefully early December," he told Sky Sports. "Everyone knows I want a unification fight with Frampton and I am sure everyone wants to see it."
"Let's be honest, how can we call ourselves the best featherweight in the world when we don't even know who the best in Britain is. I have to deal with the mandatory but I want the unification with Frampton in the spring time next year. I want to and will prove I am the best out there."
Selby says the fight with Barros will likely take place on American soil. Selby, who is promoted by Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Sport, is advised by Al Haymon and is part of the Premier Boxing Champions stable.
"When I watched him on YouTube he looked like a straightforward fighter but watched him live he was unorthodox, he was throwing punches from all angles and he was hitting hard," Selby said. "The Japanese guy would've suited me better, but he will do."
"It will probably be out in America. I'd love to defend my world title in Cardiff but the arenas make it difficult. The Motorpoint holds 4,000 and isn't big enough and then, especially at this time of year, the next step up is the Millennium Stadium, which is too big for this one. But a unification fight with Frampton would sell that out. No problem at all."