GRADOVICH HAS DIBS ON IBF 126-POUND TITLE
Rob Soucy @ ringside
Evgeny Gradovich W12 Billy Dib... In the ESPN2 Friday Night Fights main event from Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut, Evgeny Gradovich claimed the IBF featherweight championship by defeating Billy Dib. Although officially a split decision, the fight was not as close as the official judges scored it. BoxingTalk had Gradovich winning the fight 116-111. The fight began with Dib boxing while Gradovich established himself as the counter puncher. Dib was a little bit busier working behind his jab and an occasional combination. In the second round, Gradovich was very effective as a counter puncher. By the end of the third, Dib's face began to show the signs of a fighter taking a lot of clean punches. Dib bounced back in the fourth round and was a little more active. In the fifth round Gradovich landed a left hook that staggered Dib momentarily. Just prior, Gradovich hit Dib with an inadvertent elbow that opened a nasty gash on the side of Dibs head. Dib continued to fight hard but Gradovich was beginning to take over with his constant pressure and cleaner punching. In round eight both fighters were deducted a point for holding, and it was an otherwise uneventful round. By the tenth round, Dib was wearing down and Gradovich looked much fresher. In the last minute of round eleven, Gradovich landed a wicked left-right combination and pummeled Dib for the remainder of the round. In the final round, Gradovich put the finishing touches on a brilliant performance with a hard left hook that may have been his best punch of the fight. Gradovich improved to 16-0 with 8 KOs and should be headed for a showdown with WBO featherweight champion Mikey Garcia, although promotion feuding could prevent it. Dib dropped to 35-2 with 21 KOs.