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Featherweight world titleholder Lee Selby to defend belt against Josh Warrington

Featherweight world titleholder Lee Selby and mandatory challenger Josh Warrington have traded barbs for quite some time in anticipation of fighting each other. The time has come.

Wales' Selby will defend his belt against Warrington on May 19, promoter Frank Warren announced on Tuesday. Warren said venue information would be announced at a news conference next week in Warrington's hometown of Leeds, England, where the bout is expected to take place.

"This is a fight that has all the ingredients of a classic," Warren said. "It's the one that we have all been waiting for. There really is no love lost between these two and on May 19 they finally get to settle their feud. Whether the relentless volume punching of Josh can unhinge the stylish probing of Lee, we'll have to wait and see. Josh has been working towards this fight his whole life and has the chance to achieve his boyhood dream in his home city."

Selby (26-1, 9 KOs), 30, will be making his fifth title defense. He is coming off a unanimous decision against Eduardo Ramirez on Dec. 9 although Ramirez was not eligible to win the title that night because he was 128.5 pounds, well over the 126-pound division limit.

The 27-year-old Warrington (26-0, 6 KOs), the former European featherweight champion, earned the title shot with a 10th-round knockout of Dennis Ceylan in an elimination fight on Oct. 21 at First Direct Arena in Leeds, where the showdown with Selby might take place.

Selby and Warrington have gone at each other on social media for several months. Selby has accused Warrington of avoiding a fight with him in 2016.

"Let's see what Josh is made of," Selby said. "He's done everything that has been asked of him so far. He's picked up my vacated [regional] titles and beat a lot of my past opponents. To his credit, he's earned his position as my mandatory challenger and deserves his shot.

"If Josh comes steaming out like he has done in the past, that will just play into my hands as I'll pick him off like I have done with numerous past opponents. If he opts to box on the back foot I definitely can't see him outboxing me. In fact, there's no way I can see him beating me."

Selby has designs on beating Warrington to pave the way for an even bigger fight he has designs on, one against Northern Ireland's Carl Frampton, a former featherweight and junior featherweight titlist and one of the biggest names in the division.

"The plan is to beat Warrington and then go over to Belfast and beat Frampton too," Selby said. "If I beat Frampton then the world is my oyster. This is a huge year for me and by the end of it I'll prove to everyone that I'm the number one featherweight in the U.K."

Frampton is due to face former four-division world titleholder Nonito Donaire on April 21 in Belfast, but if Frampton and Selby both win, a summer fight is possible.

Warrington said he isn't interested in Selby's future plans. He only wants the belt Selby holds.

"By winning this fight, not only do I get my hands on a world title, but it's a chance to show everyone that I'm the best featherweight in the U.K. and propel myself onto the world level," Warrington said. "For the past three or four years our names have always been mentioned together. He's always been that one step ahead of me and everyone has always looked at him as the No.1 featherweight in the U.K., but that will change on May 19. It's going to be an entertaining fight for the fans but there's only going to be one winner and that's me. He's not a perfect fighter or a polished fighter. He's got a lot of weak points and I'm going to exploit them."

Author: Dan Rafael, ESPN

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