By Nick Parkinson, courtesy of The Daily Star
LEE SELBY is hoping for a better 2018 after hard times both inside and outside the ring this year.
The Welshman’s fight against Argentina’s Jonathan Barros in Las Vegas in January was cancelled at less than a day’s notice.
Then, four days before the rearranged Barros fight in London in July, his mum Frankie suddenly died.
IBF world featherweight champion Selby, 30, dazzled and out-pointed Barros in a unanimous points win in only his second fight in 15 months.
And he was then hit by another death in the family while he continued to miss out on the big fights.
But he hopes that by beating little-known Mexican Eduardo Ramirez in London on December 9, it will lead to bigger fights next year against the likes of Leeds’ unbeaten Josh Warrington and Belfast’s former champion Carl Frampton.
He said: “A better 2018 would be nice but it’s part of life. My mum died and then my grandad died a week or two later.
“They are challenges but you just have to get on with it – 2018 could be my biggest year yet. I have a high-profile fight with Josh Warrington, my mandatory, so get him sorted and maybe a fight with Frampton towards the end of the summer.
“And then, if I can beat that pair, hopefully it will be one of the other world champions in America, that would be my ideal 2018 really.
“I just want the big fights. The Warrington fight will be a big one, me versus Frampton will be a big fight and then a unification.”
And Selby has told Frampton his best chance of a world title shot in 2018 is against him rather than Mexican Leo Santa Cruz, who the Northern Irishman lost to in January.
He added: “I can’t see Santa Cruz coming to Belfast, no chance.
“Carl’s best chance of a world title fight in Belfast is against me. The other world champions won’t leave America to fight him. I’ve got no problem going to Belfast, I would prefer it because you feel like the underdog. The pressure will be on him.”