7:02am Thursday 30th January 2014
HE'S been dubbed the Welsh Floyd Mayweather, but Lee Selby admits he's still adjusting to life as a main event player, writes Michael Pearlman.
The Barry boxer, who trains alongside Gary Buckland in the not-quite-Hollywood surroundings just outside Newport's city centre, has been a frequent visitor to LA and has trained with the top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport.
Mayweather has taken a keen interest in Selby, but the softly spoken British and Commonwealth featherweight champion knows he's not yet established in boxing's upper echelons.
However, Selby's British and vacant European featherweight title contest with Rendell Monroe takes top billing in Cardiff this weekend and the unbeaten 26-year old admits he's still adjusting to life in boxing's fast lane.
While he certainly doesn't struggle in the popularity stakes - he's sold more tickets than any other fighter on the bill by a distance - things have still happened quickly for Selby.
In 2011 he shocked many observers, especially the ones over the Severn Bridge, with a knock-out victory over red hot favourite Stephen Smith to capture British and Commonwealth gold.
But tellingly, his previous fight to that was a ten-rounder at the Pill Millennium Centre, a building with a capacity of 500.
"I've come a long way, I started at the bottom and I've fought on small hall shows all over the place and now I'm headlining a bill in an arena, it's quite a transformation.
"It still feels strange, but I know I'm moving up fast, I am sticking with my promoter Eddie Hearn because he's sticking by his word and is building me up with TV and his plan is to make me into a star which is what I want to be.
"I can only laugh when I hear the stuff about being the Welsh Floyd Mayweather, I just have to keep my head on the training.
"I think I got the name because I've been over to his gym to train and he's taken an interest in me, watching me spar and having a word here or there."
Selby is keen to show off his skill, speed and power against Monroe but is but wary the wily 33-year old will have other ideas.
"I've trained extra hard for this because I can't afford to slip, I know I am on the verge of some really big things and Rendell Monroe is a dangerous competitor," he said.
"He's a fighter that can make you look ordinary, he'll try and slow the pace right down and make me look bad, but I can't let him do that."
Selby, whose younger brother Andrew is an amateur star, admits he's disappointed his sibling won't be boxing in Glasgow at the Commonwealth Games this summer.
Selby's participation in the AIBA Games makes him ineligible for selection, though he remains in the frame for the Olympics in 2016 if he so chooses.
"He's boxing in the AIBA and training with the GB team and is on the Italian team in the WSB, he's getting great experience, but it looks like he won't box in Glasgow which is a shame," he said.
"He is fighting out in Italy on the same night as me, which is a shame, I like to have him with me on fight nights."
Selby has only one regret about his new status at the top of the bill.
"I will be on late and that means I probably won't be able to watch my stablemate Gary Buckland against Gavin Rees and that's a shame, because it'll be a wicked fight," he said.
"That's the only good thing about being on the bottom of the bill, you get to watch the main fights!"
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