Frampton v Santa Cruz: Tearful Les Selby still hopeful of Jackal clash despite late Las Vegas heartbreak
World champion Lee Selby was left devastated last night when his title defence was sensationally called off at just 24 hours notice.
IBF featherweight champion Selby was to have faced Jonathan Barros on the undercard of Carl Frampton's blockbuster battle with Leo Santa Cruz but the Argentinian was denied by the Nevada State Athletic Commission due to the challenger "not meeting their licencing regulations".
Welshman Selby was ready to get weighed in when the news came through and it was a shell-shocked champion who took to the podium to address his fans.
"I just want to say how sorry I am that the fight is not happening. I'm close to tears here, I can't believe it," said Selby, who is eager to face the winner of Frampton-Santa Cruz.
"This was my big chance to box in Las Vegas for the first time and it's very hard to take but I'll be back. I want to thank all those who travelled to support me."
Throughout this week Selby has been saying how much he wanted to shine on the Vegas stage, to help build up a possible showdown between himself and the Jackal which could well take place at Windsor Park. Whether Selby would have time to make a title defence in between remains to be seen but it is unlikely.
"A fight with Frampton is a massive event. It would be career-defining for me if I could win that. Carl boxed over in America against Alejandro Gonzalez and didn't look great although he won. He had a fight with Scott Quigg which was high profile but the fight wasn't great. He then had the stand-out fight with Santa Cruz last year. It changed his profile overnight.
"That's what I'm looking for, that one stand-out fight. I think mine could be against Carl Frampton."
Selby will take his seat at ringside tonight to watch Frampton and Santa Cruz, just as he did six months ago in Brooklyn at the Barclays Centre when he found their scrap too close to call.
"The first fight was a brilliant one, I was sat ringside for it and it was pretty even throughout. At the final bell I couldn't split them and I think this fight will be the same, although Santa Cruz might have a slight advantage with it now being in Vegas.
"Of course, I want Frampton to win as a fellow British fighter and hopefully we can then get it on down the line."