Evgeny “The Mexican Russin” Gradovich (16-0, 8 KOs) dethroned IBF defending featherweight champion Billy "The Kid" Dibb (35-2, 21 KOs) over 12 rounds to win a split decision at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods Resort, Mashantucket, Connecticut.
The bout was the mainevent of ESPN’s Friday Night Fights.
Dib of Australia, engaged Gradovich promptly in the opening round. He jabbed and worked the angles. A quick uppercut landed. Gadovich was a step slower, but did connect with a right hook. Gradovich did better in round two. His right hand scored as did his left. Dib jabbed and slipped. His jab continued to land.
Dib, 27, went to the body in round three. Referee Eddie Claudio warned both fighters for dirty tactics. Dib landed a left uppercut. Gradovich countered with a right. The bout was being fought on even terms. Gradovich kept up the pressure in round four. Dib countered with a left hook. Gradovich pushed him into the ropes and landed a combination. Dib fought back with a right and left. Some swelling was apparent near the left eye of Dib. Gradovich, who is trained by Robert Garcia, looked more confident at the bell.
Two left hooks by Gradovich staggered Dib in round five. The challenger from Russia was taking over the fight. Dib kept working the body. Gradovich, 26, continued to land his right. A sweeping left hook jolted Dib at the bell. Dib was also bleeding from a cut on the side of his head.
Rounds six and seven were hard to score as both boxers connected with varying degree’s of punches. Gradovich looked stronger, but Dib’s work was consistent. Gradovich stalked after Dib, throwing punches. Dib was finding success with his short right uppercut.
Most of the action in round eight was fought on the inside. Referee Claudio deducted a point from both fighters for holding. A triple left hook by Dib landed. Gradovich connected with a hard right. In round nine, Dib was on the receiving end of two intense right hands.
Gradovich stayed in Dib’s grill in round 10. Dib was finding it nearly impossible to slow the challenger down. Gradovich would walk in and punch. He missed a number of blows, but also landed. Dib was being outworked.
Dib connected with a sneaky uppercut in round 11. He caught the charging Gradovich with a right. A left uppercut - right hand knocked Dib back a step. Another hard left hook made Dib wince. This writer had Gradovich leading by four points heading into the last round. Dib’s right eye was bleeding profusely. “The Mexican Russian” stalked and punched. He was predictable, but very effective. Dib landed a uppercut, but Gradovich countered with a left right at the bell.
The scoring was 114-112 Dib, and 114-112 twice for the new champion.
Doghouseboxing scored the bout 116-111 for Gradovich.
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