Dan Rafael: Billy Dib

Former featherweight titlist Billy Dib (37-3, 21 KOs) of Australia returns to action Friday against Indonesia’s Ruben Manakane (14-11-1, 9 KOs) in Melbourne in a junior lightweight bout scheduled for 12 rounds.

Dib, 29, is seeking his second win a row since moving up in weight in the wake of getting stopped in the ninth round of a world title rematch with Evgeny Gradovich in Macau in November 2013. Gradovich won a split decision against Dib in March 2013 to take his featherweight belt.

“He's only 21 years of age, so I'm expecting him to come out fast and do all he can to seize the moment,” Dib said. “I never take any of my opposition lightly and I know that Manakane stands in the way of my journey to another world championship. One step at a time."

Dib moving up in weight for return

June, 20, 2014
Jun 20
Evgeny Gradovich vs. Billy DibChris Farina/Top Rank Billy Dib, fresh off a title in his rematch with Evgeny Gradovich, will try his hand at junior lightweight.
Former featherweight titlist Billy Dib is looking to give it another go and is doing so by returning to the scene of his title loss.

Dib, who is moving up to the junior lightweight division, will take on Alberto Garza in a 10-round bout that will open a special Wednesday night edition of "Friday Night Fights" on July 2 (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET) at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut.

It was at Foxwoods in March 2012, also on FNF, that Dib lost a hard-fought split decision and his 126-pound world title to late replacement opponent Evgeny Gradovich.

After rebounding with a difficult majority-decision win against Mike Oliver last July, Dib faced Gradovich in a November rematch in Macau and had his head handed to him. Gradovich dropped Dib in the sixth round and pounded him out in the ninth round of a one-sided beating.

Now Dib (36-3, 21 KOs), 28, of Australia, is moving up to 130 pounds and looking to get back on track, even if it means returning to a place that does not hold fond memories.

"I'm grateful for fighting again at a beautiful venue like Foxwoods," said Dib, who is promoted by rap star Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson. "I have no demons [fighting there]. I am blessed for what I already achieved and hungry to achieve more."

Dib, who turned pro as a lightweight in 2004, felt it was time to move up in weight after spending years draining himself to make featherweight.

"I have been making featherweight for the past 10 years and felt that I was losing some power due to slight struggles making weight," Dib said. "I feel stronger now and I am excited about attempting to win another world title in a different division. That's definitely my goal. I have done it before and know what it takes. I can't put a time frame on it. I will be patient and work hard to achieve another world title, God willing."

Garza (26-7-1, 21 KOs), 29, of Mexico, has lost two of his last three bouts. He suffered a fourth-round knockout at the hands of defending featherweight titlist Nicholas Walters in November and a 12-round unanimous-decision loss in March against Jose Pedraza, an undefeated former Olympian and one of Puerto Rico's best prospects.

"I know Garza has the Mexican heart that you can never underestimate," Dib said. "He is very experienced, fought and won [regional] titles and is dangerous. But I will be ready."

In the scheduled 12-round main event, junior lightweight Mark Davis (18-0, 5 KOs) of Cleveland will face the Philippines' Michael Farenas (38-4-4, 30 KOs) in a title eliminator making the winner the mandatory challenger for the winner of the July 10 rematch between 130-pound titlist Argenis Mendez and Rances Barthelemy.
Former featherweight titlist Billy Dib is picking himself up, dusting himself off and aiming for a rematch with Evgeny Gradovich, who took his title in a hard-fought split decision on March 1.

Dib had a rematch clause in his contract with Gradovich, but it wasn't a requirement that the second fight happen immediately. So instead of facing Australia's Dib right away, Russia's Gradovich (16-0, 8 KOs) is taking an interim fight and will defend his belt against mandatory challenger Mauricio Munoz (26-3, 12 KOs) of Argentina on July 27 in Macau, China.

Dib (35-2, 21 KOs), meanwhile, will try to rebound from the loss and fight his way into the rematch when he faces Mike Oliver (25-3, 8 KOs) in the scheduled 10-round bout that was elevated to the main event of this week's "Friday Night Fights" card (ESPN2, 9 ET) at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Oliver's hometown.

The original main event -- the first solo promotion for rapper Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson's SMS Promotions -- was supposed to have featured light heavyweight prospect Eleider Alvarez (12-0, 8 KOs), a 2008 Colombian Olympian living in Montreal, against Tulsa, Okla., native Allan Green (32-4, 22 KOs), a former world title challenger who participated in the Super Six World Boxing Classic super middleweight tournament. Green, however, pulled out of the fight Friday due to food poisoning.

Dib, 27, is trying to put the disappointment of losing his world title behind him.

"I fought the wrong fight and paid the ultimate penalty," Dib said. "It was really hard for me to lose my IBF belt, which meant so much to me. But the great news is, I know I can win it back. I have to give Gradovich credit for his performance, but it'll be a different outcome in a rematch. I will make a statement in this fight to let world featherweight champions know that Billy Dib is still here."

The 33-year-old Oliver is coming off a 22-month layoff and isn't expected to pose too many issues for Dib. In Oliver's most recent fight, he was knocked out in the second round by former titleholder Juan Manuel Lopez in October 2011. Oliver's two other losses came by third-round knockout, both in 2008.

"He's a crafty southpaw," Dib said of Oliver. "People are going to see a rejuvenated Billy Dib, an aggressive fighter who is coming to fight Oliver. I was shown a lot of love and respect after my last fight in America [the Gradovich fight, which was also in Connecticut], and I will return that love with a devastating performance and knockout victory."

Promoter/rap star Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson started off slowly in the promotional game.

The first fight he was involved in was when he made a deal with Top Rank to put his top fighter, Yuriorkis Gamboa, on the HBO PPV undercard of Juan Manuel Marquez-Manny Pacquiao IV last December.

For his second foray, Fiddy's SMS Promotions teamed up with promoter Lou DiBella to put on an ESPN2 "Friday Night Fights" card on March 1. But it was really DiBella’s staff that did the heavy lifting for that event in which Billy Dib, one of Jackson’s fighters, lost a split decision and his featherweight world title to Evgeny Gradovich in the main event at the Foxwoods resort in Mashantucket, Conn.

And last Saturday, he had Gamboa on an HBO card in Montreal promoted by Yvon Michel and Gary Shaw.

Now with a little experience under his belt, Jackson is promoting his first card solo-style, another "FNF" show, which takes place July 5 at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Conn.
Jackson was in Hartford on Wednesday for a news conference to announce the card.

Dib originally was going to headline the card, but when a main event-worthy opponent could not be lined up, Jackson made a deal to bring in the fight between light heavyweight Eleider Alvarez (12-0, 8 KOs), a 2008 Colombian Olympian living in Montreal, and Tulsa, Okla., native Allan Green (32-4, 22 KOs), who participated in the Super Six World Boxing Classic super middleweight tournament.

Alvarez-Green was originally supposed to be on the May 25 Jean Pascal-Lucian Bute undercard in Montreal. When Bute got hurt and the show was postponed, promoter Yvon Michel shifted the fight to last Saturday’s Adonis Stevenson-Chad Dawson undercard. But it was pulled off that show for various reasons and ultimately, a deal was made with Jackson to have the fight headline the ESPN2 card.

Australia’s Dib (35-2, 21 KOs) will also be on the card in a non-title bout in the co-feature against Mike Oliver (25-3, 8 KOs) of Hartford. Dib has a rematch clause with Gradovich and if Dib beats Oliver and Gradovich retains his title against Mauricio Munoz on July 27 in Macau, the rematch is expected to follow.

"I'm excited because this is the first show put together by SMS Promotions,” Jackson said. “It's been a learning experience. We've been part of shows but never did the promotional job. I'm not far from home in Farmington [Conn.]. We've put together a real event with some of the best fighters in the world, good prospects and some local fighters. We're creating a platform for fighters to progress and I want to be part of it. Overall, it's a great opportunity to do things a little differently. I've associated myself with some big name fighters.

"The Hartford area has a long boxing history with Hall of Famer Willie Pep and other world champions and top contenders [and champions] like Battling Battalino, Marlon Starling [who was in attendance at the news conference], Kid Kaplan, Tyrone Booze and 'Iceman' John Scully.”

Jackson will also have three of his other fighters on the card, lightweight prospect Mark Davis (16-0, 5 KOs), a former two-time U.S. national amateur champion, junior welterweight Luis Olivares (3-0, 2 KOs) and junior welterweight Donte Strayhorn (1-0, 0 KOs).

Oliver hasn’t fought since being knocked out in the second round by former featherweight titlist Juan Manuel Lopez in October 2011 and is in a tough fight against Dib.

“I haven't fought in over a year, but I'm back,” Oliver said. “My last fight was against 'Juanma,' but that was in Puerto Rico and this fight is in my hometown, Hartford. I know you don't believe me 50, but I'm going to beat your guy.”

Dib, Franco negotiating title bout

January, 3, 2013
Featherweight titlist Billy Dib of Australia thought he’d be defending his title against mandatory challenger Mauricio Munoz of Argentina in his next fight. However, there’s been a change of plans.

Now, Dib is likely to face Miami-based Cuban defector Luis Franco (11-1, 7 KOs), who lost a controversial split decision to Munoz (26-3, 12 KOs) in an October eliminator for the right to challenge for the title.

Dib-Munoz went to a purse bid in November and Warriors Boxing’s Leon Margules was the lone bidder at $50,000. Margules is also an attorney and bid on behalf of his most famous client, rapper 50 Cent (real name: Curtis Jackson), whose SMS Promotions handles Dib.

However, before setting the date and location of the fight, Munoz dropped out. According to the IBF, it received a letter from Munoz’s doctor citing an unspecified injury. Under the IBF rules, it did not have to wait until he was available to fight and instead went to the its next highest-ranked featherweight, Franco.

The Dib and Franco camps have until Jan. 14 to reach an agreement or a purse bid will be ordered.

Dib (35-1, 21 KOs) will be making his third title defense.

Warriors wins Dib-Munoz purse bid

November, 27, 2012
Featherweight titlist Billy Dib of Australia thought he would be defending his title Saturday against Puerto Rico's Jayson Velez at New York's Madison Square Garden on the Austin Trout-Miguel Cotto undercard. But Showtime decided it did'nt want Dib -- because he's been in several boring fights -- on its air.

So Velez, one of Cotto's fighters, got another opponent in Salvador Sanchez II and Dib -- promoted by hip hop star 50 Cent (whose real name is Curtis Jackson) -- was left to instead make a lower profile, less lucrative mandatory defense against Argentina's Mauricio Munoz.

On Tuesday, Warriors Boxing was the lone bidder at the IBF purse bid, winning promotional rights to the bout for $50,000. That means Dib is entitled to $37,500 (75 percent of the winning bid) while Munoz is entitled to $12,500 (25 percent).

Warriors Boxing is owned by Leon Margules, who bid on behalf of Jackson's SMS Promotions. Margules is also an attorney and represents Jackson in his boxing business.

The date and location of the bout has not been determined, but Warriors has 90 days to put on the fight.

Dib (35-1, 21 KOs) will be making his third title defense. Munoz (26-3, 12 KOs) became the mandatory challenger when he won a split decision in Argentina against Luis Franco on Oct. 13.