Five keys for Billy Dib
Plotting a path to victory against Evgeny Gradovich on "Friday Night Fights"
Australia's Billy "The Kid" Dib (35-1, 21 KOs) will defend his featherweight title for the third time when he faces Russian contender Evgeny Gradovich (15-0, 8 KOs) in the main event of ESPN's "Friday Night Fights" at Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Mashantucket, Conn. (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2).
It will be Dib's second fight in the United States; the first one was his lone defeat, in 2008 against Steven Luevano.
With a great amateur record (98 victories in 133 fights), Dib turned professional under the guidance of former champion "Prince" Naseem Hamed of Great Britain, from whom Dib inherited part of his style. Fast, with good technique and great footwork, Dib hopes to remain a force in the 126-pound division and defeat a very dangerous Gradovich.
Here are five keys to victory for Dib against Gradovich:
Use the experience -- be patient
|The professional experience of the champion is one of his keys to victory. He will be facing a willing, aggressive opponent who will seek to impose his rhythm. Dib will have to manage his timing by being patient, working on his lateral movements and using his speed to throw punches in combinations -- things that have been a great advantage for Dib in his career. In the experience department, Dib is older and wiser, has more fights under his belt, and has faced better opponents. The Aussie champ will have to make this count both in the technical and mental aspects at the moment of truth.|
Look at that body
|One of the Australian's favorite weapons is the hook to the midsection. That's how, in March 2010, he demolished Carlos Lopez with a brutal body attack before the KO arrived in the sixth round. In the first defense of his title, he stopped Italy's Alberto Servidei in the first round with a left hook to the body. The same thing also happened in his March 2012 bout against Eduardo Escobedo, whom he defeated by TKO after another aggressive body attack that kept the Mexican fighter from coming out in the seventh round. With this résumé backing Dib up, he not only may win but also could do it in a dominant and aggressive fashion.|
Styles make the fight
|Under trainer Billy Hussein, Dib's style has changed for the better. Dib uses body movement to avoid punches and throws straight hands or overhand rights launched surprisingly from unusual positions (similar to Hamed's style). But Dib must be careful when his opponent waits and measures him, as happened with Luevano, who exposed Dib with timed counterpunches. Against an opponent with good technique who throws as many punches per round as Gradovich, a mistake could cost Dib the fight.|
|Dib is sometimes betrayed by his own temperament and opponents can use that in their favor, especially when there is a trainer as intelligent as Robert Garcia in the opposite corner. In March 2009, Dib's fight against Japan's Kenichi Yamaguchi was declared a no-contest after Dib hit Yamaguchi when he was on his knees. Dib also had problems in his loss against Luevano a year earlier, when the Australian had to be admonished for landing low blows, just as he was during his fight against Escobedo. On Friday, Gradovich's style may be appropriate to encourage exchanges in reduced spaces, and it is then when Dib's illegal punches tend to happen. He will have to be much more careful this time.|
Remember the plan
|Dib's preparation has been very complicated due to the changes in his opponents. We must not forget that he had to prepare first to face Argentina's Mauricio Munoz. After Munoz withdrew from the fight due to an injury, Cuba's Luis Franco also bailed out after being called in as a replacement, and then Gradovich was called in -- a Russian fighter with the "Mexican style." During his training, Dib has had to adjust to three very different styles. For this reason, Dib's corner must be alert so this factor does not weigh on him during the fight and he is capable of adjusting his fight plan to the new opponent without showing holes in his concentration.|
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