By Derek Bonnett: IBF featherweight champion Billy "The Kid" Dib will fight for the second time in 2012 on Friday, July 13. Dib will appear in a ten round non-title affair against Mexico’s Juan Antonio Rodriguez at the Orion Function Centre, Campsie, New South Wales, Australia.
Dib’s last three bouts have been world title contests, but he doesn’t feel that Rodriguez is in anyway a step down from his recent opposition, which includes Jorge Lacierva and Eduardo Escobedo. However, he made it clear bigger game is on the horizon.
"We are always looking to do better than the last performance," Dib stated. "For me every fight is make or break; I take no one lightly. I believe that Rodriguez is dangerous and I have to be on my game to score another win. This fight is definitely leading to something big later in the year. Let’s just say I’m honing my skills against southpaws."
If it’s featherweight southpaws Dib is after, the list is relatively short near the top of the division. Javier Fortuna is probably a little too green for a world title fight. Hozumi Hasegawa’s name still holds some weight in the sport. Akifumi Shimoda has been fighting above his usual 122 pound division since losing his super bantamweight belt. Juan Manuel Lopez has already been rumored as an opponent for November, but that was before his suspension was handed down for his inflammatory statements about referee Roberto Ramirez Sr.
The leading names on the rumor mill in general have been Lopez and Chris John. However, both potential bouts have quieted considerable since early in the year.
"All these fights are possibilities," Dib reassured. "I would love to fight Lopez. That fight is definitely a possibility. Lopez has got to see out his suspension first."
The future could be exciting for the young champion, but his past still sparks murmurs of criticism. Following the Escobedo win numerous fans criticized Dib’s performance for his use of illegal tactics such as hitting low, using his elbows, and holding and hitting. A review of some of the YouTube footage of this bout yields some even more heated commentaries from fans.
How does the IBF champion at 126 pounds feel about the "dirty fighter" label?
"I’m not sure how to take it to be honest," Dib admitted. "If I have fouled in the past, the truth is it was never intentional. In the heat of battle sometimes things happen. I hope this stigma will be removed with my future performances."
Overall, boxing fans have short memories. A big win over the right name or an impressive showing in his next fight could squash a lot of this talk concerning Dib. After all, it was not that long ago that Abner Mares was berated for his use of fouls against Vic Darchinyan and Joseph Agbeko. Today, Mares is more popular than ever and favored by many to be the man to end Nonito Donaire’s impressive run. A clean victory over Lopez just might do wonders for Dib’s career.
Dib’s non-title bout with Rodriguez is more than just an opportunity to keep active and ply his trade against a southpaw. It’s a chance for him to experiment with how his body will carry a few extra pounds.