IBF featherweight titleholder Billy Dib says he is “disappointed and shocked” by the news that Luis Franco has withdrawn from their March 1 title fight. Dib (35-1, 21 knockouts) was expecting to make the third defense of his belt at MGM Grand at Foxwoods Resort in Mashantucket, Conn., which would headline an episode of ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights.
The fight would be his first since signing with rapper turned boxing promoter Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson’s SMS Promotions and first in America since his lone professional defeat to Steven Luevano in 2008.
ESPN.com is reporting that Franco and co-manager Henry Foster had quarreled over the $20,000 purse he was due to receive while Franco’s co-promoter Gary Shaw planned to take legal action because the fight was made without his involvement. Foster said that the 2004 Cuban Olympian Franco (11-1, 7 KOs) claims to be retiring from boxing.
“We understood he accepted the fight and we had an international conference media call last week which included Franco. Perhaps in hindsight I shouldn’t have told him I was going to knock him out,” said Dib of Sydney, Australia. “We had a good game plan for Franco, but that’s boxing and you need to accept things and move on.”
On that same conference call, Franco told the press: “My message to Billy Dib is whatever he has to say to me he can say it to me in the ring the night of fight.”
Dib, who is still training in Sydney, says he had “some great sparring” and says he has been told by his promoter he would still be fighting on the March 1 card and that “a formidable replacement should be organized very soon.”
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to The Ring magazine and GMA News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. An archive of his work can be found at www.ryansongalia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.