Former IBF featherweight titleholder Billy Dib is hinting at retirement should he fail to recapture his belt in a rematch with Evgeny Gradovich later this month.
Dib, who will face Gradovich on the Manny Pacquiao-Brandon Rios card at the Venetian Resort in Macau, China, is in the final stages of training camp in his hometown of Sydney, Australia.
The 28-year-old was blunt in stating what he expects of himself in the rematch.
“Truth is, if I can’t beat Gradovich, I shouldn’t be in the sport,” said Dib (36-2, 21 knockouts). “That’s how I feel.”
In their first meeting this past March, Dib lost a split decision to the 27-year-old Oxnard, Calif.-based Russian Gradovich (17-0, 8 KOs) in Connecticut. Dib controlled the early rounds, but had issues dealing with his opponent’s strength, plus cuts to his eyes and scalp as the fight wore on.
“It was gut wrenching losing my title,” said Dib. “I won the first three rounds then received a nasty cut above the head which required my head to be stapled together after the fight. From that point I felt weak and dizzy and started to fade.”
The Gradovich fight was Dib’s first under the SMS Promotions banner, which is headed by rap artist Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. Dib’s only two losses have come in America to fighters trained by Robert Garcia.
Gradovich is currently rated No. 6 by THE RING at 126 pounds, while Dib is a slot lower at No. 7.
Since the loss, Dib has rebounded with a majority-decision win over Mike Oliver in July, while Gradovich defended the title with a unanimous decision win over Mauricio Munoz later that month in Macau.
“I haven’t been watching Gradovich; I saw enough of him when we fought,” said Dib with a laugh. “End of the day, they can’t re-invent him. He’s predictable. One dimensional. But I respect him. He’s a tough, tough warrior with a big heart.”
When asked why he felt things will be different in a rematch, Dib replied: “I believe I’m the better athlete. My skills are on a different level to his. That is the key.”
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 email@example.com. An archive of his work can be found at www.ryansongalia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.