Gradovich Defeats Dib to Win IBF Featherweight Crown
Ringside Report by
An all out war ensued this past Friday in the main event of ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights from the MGM Grand Arena at Foxwoods in Mashantucket, CT as a new world champion was crowned.
Former IBF #11 world rated contender, Evgeny Gradovich (16-0, 8 KOs) became the new IBF featherweight champion as he defeated the now former title holder, Billy “The Kid” Dib (35-2-1NC, 21KOs) in a very close and hard fought twelve round split decision victory. Judges Don Trella and Glenn Feldman both scored the bout 114-112 for Gradovich, while judge Don Ackerman scored the bout 114-112 for Dib. The seven bout fight card was co-promoted by DiBella Entertainment and 50 Cent’s SMS Promotions.
Gradovich, who is trained by the “2012 Trainer of the Year” Roberto Garcia, took the fight on one months notice after Cuban Olympian Luis Franco pulled out of the title shot after not agreeing on the purse. All of Garcia’s work with the undefeated Gradovich had paid off in dividends. He has also worked with Nonito Donaire and Kelly Pavlik among other several current and former world champions.
Dib controlled the first four rounds of the fight. After both fighters started to slug it out early in the first round, Dib was able to settle down and land his jab with good movement around the ring.
In the second round, Dib continued to land with his jab and began to counter Gradovich each time he could try to fight on the inside. He continued to try and make Gradovich throw punches early as Dib was effective.
Gradovich began to start becoming more aggressive and started to apply pressure on his opponent in the third and fourth round. Dib, however, was still able to land some good shots on Gradovich including a right-left combination late in the round that had his opponent hurt for a few seconds. Gradovich then began to clinch to keep Dib off balance and off of his plan of attack.
The key to his victory was the pressure that he continued to put on Dib during the middle and late rounds of the fight. He kept Dib from moving around the ring and had him backed against the ropes or in the corner. Gradovich landed some good power punches to the body and head of Dib, while he had him cornered.
Gradovich was cut in the fifth round unintentionally after he was caught by an elbow from Dib. Dib was staggered by a straight left from his opponent. This seemed to spark Gradovich as he won seven of the eight final rounds of the fight on two of the judge’s scorecards.
Both fighters at times, after getting hit with some powerful punches, began to clinch in order to stay in the fight. Referee Eddie Claudio had seen enough and deducted a point from each fighter for holding in round eight.
With his constant pressure late in the fight, Gradovich was able to continue to get the better of Dib by landing more power punches along with his ring generalship. Dib was cut over his left eye by a Gradovich right as both fighters were throwing bombs at each other in the final round.
After the battle, Gradovich afterwards said, "I feel good. I expected a very tough fight. Billy wasn't going to give up his championship easily. My game plan was to use my aggression and pressure, pressure, pressure! For right now, I just want to rest and then I'll be able to face the champions, contenders or top fighters in my division."
Dib in a very classy fashion commented afterwards, "First and foremost, I want to congratulate Gradovich. He's tough and fought a good fight. I'd love a rematch. I gave him his shot and hopefully he'll give me mine. I fought the wrong fight. I brawled too much. Again, he was the better fighter tonight."
Nelson Stops Medina in One
NABF junior middleweight title holder Willie Nelson (20-1-1, 12 KO’s) retained his title as he knocked his opponent Michael Medina (26-4-2, 19 KO’s) down twice in the first round, which prompted referee Arthur Mercante to stop the bout. The first knockdown Nelson landed a straight right, and the second came a few seconds later after a huge right hook. Time of the stoppage was 2:00 of the first round.
Afterwards an emphatic Nelson said, “It was going through my mind tonight because I feel that this was a fight that was going to open doors for me. He was the last NABF champion and he lost his title due to inactivity. I had won the vacant NABF belt (back on September 15th on the Martinez-Chavez Jr. undercard) but I never had beaten the former champion so I wanted this fight tonight which makes me feel that I am now the rightful NABF champ.”
Williams Decisions Younger
Jimmy Williams (2-0, 1 KO), who once tried out for the Oakland Raiders in the NFL, made a terrific transition to professional boxing as he out classed Raynard Younger (0-2) over four rounds giving Williams the shutout unanimous decision victory in their four round welterweight bout. All three judges scored the bout 40-36. Williams was effective with his jab to open up hooks to the body of Younger. Younger was able to hang in there, but Williams dominated the bout.
Olivares Stops Munoz
Luis Olivares (1-0, 1 KO), fighting out of Glendale, AZ, made a emphatic statement in his first professional fight knocking down his opponent junior welterweight Rafael Munoz (1-2) twice in the first round to earn his first professional technical knockout at 1:38 after referee Johnny Callas called a halt to the bout. A left body shot dropped Munoz early and after recovering, Olivares jumped right on him and landed a left-right combination that sent Munoz to the canvas for the second and final time.
Vincent Dominates Nebel
With a tremendous performance, Providence, RI’s own Shelly Vincent (8-0) remained unbeaten as a professional as she out classed her opponent Mikayla Nebel (0-4) by a shutout unanimous decision in a four round female junior featherweight match-up. Vincent controlled the tempo of the entire fight by landing devastating hooks to the head of Nebel. Nebel was unable to land any significant offense against Vincent, as Vincent easily won every round of the fight. Scores of the bout were 40-36 on all three cards. With the loss, Nebel continues her winless streak to four fights as a professional.
Rosa Jr. Decisions Collado
Undefeated featherweight Luis Rosa, Jr. (13-0, 6 KO’s) put on a boxing clinic against his opponent New York’s Jhovany Collado (4-7-2, 1 KO) by defeating him convincingly with a unanimous eight round decision. Scores of the bout were a shutout with all three judges scoring the bout 80-71. A huge left hook from Rosa Jr. sent Collado to the canvas at the end of the first round. Collado was able to recover and continue to fight. Rosa Jr. controlled the tempo of the entire fight as he was the more powerful and faster puncher than his opponent.
Kielczwski Decisions Garcia
Quincy, MA native Ryan “The Polish Prince” Kielczwski (16-0, 3 KOs) kept his undefeated streak intact as he dominated his opponent Gil Garcia (5-4-1, 1 KO) over eight rounds to score a unanimous decision in a junior lightweight bout. Kielczwski utilized his height and reach advantage to land punches at will on Garcia. Scores of the bout were 80-72 twice and 79-73.