February 21, 2017
February 21, 2017
Lee Selby

Esther Lin/Showtime

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IBF world featherweight champion Lee Selby will appear on the David Haye-Tony Bellew undercard at the O2 Arena on March 4 in a non-title bout.

The Welshman will face Spain’s Andoni Gago over 10 rounds at a 129lb catchweight. Selby was scheduled to fight mandatory challenger Johnny Barros on January 28 in Las Vegas but the fight fell through at the last minute due to Barros failing a medical.

To ensure Selby keeps active and his camp did not go to waste, the IBF granted him permission to box in a non-title fight while they make a decision over his mandatory obligations.

“It was important for us to get Lee back in the ring, first and foremost. He’d been out the ring a while and he’d had a long camp,” Jamie Sanigar, Selby’s manager, told Boxing News.

“Obviously after the disappointment of Las Vegas it was imperative we got him out quickly. It’s a good opportunity. David Haye reached out and with the links between Richard Schaefer and Al Haymon, we were able to get this opportunity for Lee. He’s back at the O2, a good hunting ground for him, he won the world title there.

“He’s a world champion so, ideally, he wants to be defending his world title but it’s just not possible at the moment with the IBF. We’re just waiting for a decision from them. They gave us permission to box as long as it’s over the featherweight limit.”

Selby had hoped to fight, and beat, Barros in Vegas on the Carl Frampton-Leo Santa Cruz II undercard with a view of facing the winner later this year. Santa Cruz defeated Frampton, and the Ulsterman has declared his next fight will be in Belfast, regardless of the opponent.

In getting an appearance in next week, Selby will put himself back on track to land a big fight in the summer.

“Lee Selby wants to be in the biggest fights possible, as soon as possible. Frampton, Santa Cruz, [Gary] Russell Jr, [Abner] Mares, that’s the four, we want to be boxing one of those four in the summer. By boxing on March 4, it puts him on the same timeline as those, and that’s critical for us. We didn’t want to be going into a big fight like that if Selby had been out for 12 months or so.”