Billy Dib eyes triumphant US return
IBF featherweight champion Billy Dib has a burning desire to reconquer the US after his fall from grace four years ago.
On Friday night, Dib survived a tough fight against Mexico’s Juan Antonio Rodriguez in Sydney to score a unanimous points victory and earn his 34th pro win from 35 fights. It might not have been the most glamorous venue but it was in front of a parochial home crowd that included several celebrities supporting the Bankstown product.
Jeff Fenech, Paul Gallen and NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell were on hand to see one of Australia’s best boxers strut his stuff at the Orion Function Centre.
It might be the last time we see Dib on our shores for a while.
The 26-year-old has indicated his next few fights will be in the US as he prepares to defend his IBF title before moving up in weight.
Dib’s return to the US will be an interesting one – considering he was so heavily feted there early in his career.
After turning pro as an 18-year-old in 2004 and being tutored by legendary British fighter Prince Naseem Hamed, Dib built a record of 13 wins in a row before his first fight in America. He had traveled to the US in 2006 and impressed the boxing fraternity there, signing with Oscar de la Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions.
Dib’s US debut was a points victory over Phillip Payne at St. Peter Times Forum in Tampa, Florida, and over the next two years went on to fight at the Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, and Madison Square Garden on big cards and in front of huge crowds. He won his first world title in Australia with a win over Zolani Marali for the IBO super featherweight belt.
Here was a very young Aussie fighter with the world at his feet – unbeaten, a world champion and supremely confident. He was even called the next ‘Prince’.
But it all went terribly wrong in his next bout. Dib took on Steve Luevano in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on the 18th of October, 2008.
Luevano was the comprehensive victor and Dib was criticised post-fight for his performance, for low blows and showing a displeasing style. He was then dropped by Golden Boy, cast aside as he suffered his first-ever pro loss.
There’s no denying it was a huge setback. Dib was at the brink but credit to him, he has fought bravely back.
The Sydneysider who, perhaps started to believe his own hype, has battled to get back to the top of his division. From Vegas and Madison Square Garden he has gone to brawling in the likes of Campbelltown’s The Cube and Punchbowl’s Croatian Club.
Teaming up with trainer Billy Hussein, Dib has defeated all comers and won another world title. He seems now a much more humble and grounded individual, a more seasoned and talented pugilist, one that still has the burning desire to prove himself on boxing’s brightest stage. He has more skill and experience to rumble with the best there is.
And after being chewed up and spit at a young age in the US, he has no shortage of motivation
Speaking to Dib on the weekend, he says the situation has changed. He is back on the radar of world boxing.
“I’m back,” Dib says. “They’re calling us now, they’re asking me to go back. I really want to seize the moment.”
The next stage of Dib’s irrepressible career awaits.
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