Lee Selby reveals personal loss ahead of title defence

Lee Selby has claimed his days of fighting domestic rivals are over. Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Lee Selby has revealed he was mourning the death of a close friend when he made a first world title defence last week.

Welshman Selby unanimously out-pointed Mexican Fernando Montiel 116-112, 118-110, 119-109 on his US debut in Arizona last Wednesday night.

IBF world featherweight champion Selby (22-1, 8 KOs), 28, had spent over two weeks in America preparing for the bout when two days before he was due to face Montiel he heard childhood friend Darren Bray had died.

Selby's elder brother Michael died after falling into a river in Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset, seven years ago and the world champion said the death of his friend Darren left him "devastated" before fighting Montiel.

"I dedicate my victory over Montiel to Darren Bray, who passed away while I was in training for the fight," Selby told ESPN.

"Darren was my brother Michael's best mate. They grew up together and I remember him from as far back as I can recall. He was a great friend to all the family and I was absolutely devastated when I found out he had died.

"When I found out about Darren's death just a couple of days before the fight with Montiel I tried to blank it out of my mind, but it was very difficult. He was such a good friend to all of us. It feels terrible having lost him. He was my age, so we really grew up together.

"I haven't been able to find out exactly how he died yet. All I know is that the whole Selby family will be hurting about this. We have known him all our lives.

"Last year Darren's girlfriend fell ill so he had to look after their three children. He was such a great person. He always was and to lose him hasn't sunk in yet.

"I found it really hard because what with my brother dying and now Darren. It is very tough to take and Darren passing away has brought back a lot of memories of my brother. We will all have to be as strong as we can for Darren, his girlfriend and his kids."

Selby comfortably defeated Montiel, although he was not totally satisfied with his performance, and is now targeting a world title unification clash with Mexican Leo Santa Cruz (31-0-1, 17 KOs), who holds the WBA version of the world featherweight crown.

"Montiel was a fantastic fighter and he made me miss a lot," Selby said.

"I have got to work on that. I have gone up to the next level and I have got to be more accurate than I showed in Phoenix.

"I've seen Leo Santa Cruz, when he beat Abner Mares recently and that would be a great fight for me. I would love to fight Santa Cruz."