By Adam Santarossa: Billy Dib returned to Australia a few days ago light on luggage after losing his IBF featherweight title title and a pint or two short of blood following the 10 staples that were needed for a cut to the back of his head and the 14 stitches that were required to seal the wound above his right eye.
This reporter spoke with the former the World Champion in an exclusive interview just days after his defeat and Dib says it’s only the physical wounds he carries after his split decision point’s defeat to Evgeny Gradovich that have affected him.
“The wounds that are healing are the actual wounds that I suffered in the fight. I suffered a few cuts on the eye and two cuts on the head that I’m recovering from. But other than that everything is good. My health is good and in due time I’ll be back in the ring getting ready for the next one,” said Dib.
“It’s obviously disappointing to lose a fight and especially to lose in that fight. That was heartbreaking because as you know from the scorecards if the referee doesn’t take a point away from me, I keep my title. But in saying that it was a cracking fight, it did a lot for my credibility in the sport because people didn’t expect to see that type of fight from me. To go out and put that type of a fight on sort of changed people’s perception of me.
“50 cent has an agreement with Top Rank that provided that we gave the guy an opportunity that they will sign an agreement to do the re-match, so there is a re-match clause in place”.
Q Were you surprised at all with what Gradovich showed?
BD“No surprises at all, I expected that sort of a fight and when people say Gradovich took the fight on short notice they have to understand that we both took the fight the same notice. At the end of the day I had to prepare for him and he had to prepare for me, and we both had the same time to prepare.
“When people say he took the fight on short notice that’s not true because I was preparing for one style and then the fight fell through. Let’s be completely honest here, I went from preparing for Munoz to preparing for Luis Franco to preparing for Gradovich, so it wasn’t a smooth sailing sort of a camp. I mean I was working hard but with the chopping and changing of styles it made it very difficult.
“I had the same amount of time as Gradovich had to prepare for the fight so I thought it was on an even playing field. He didn’t show me anything that I didn’t think he was going to show me. I knew he was going to show a heart of a lion, which he did. I knew he was going to fight hard, which he did and I knew he was going to come forward, which he did. So he gave me everything that I thought he was going to give me.”
Q: I know you’ve been keen to get back to the United States and entertain and really show people what you can do. Did you go in with a pre-conceived style of fight or did it just evolve during the fight?
BD: “I think the past has sort of haunted me you know. I went from being a guy that couldn’t get on TV in America to getting on TV as the main event and now basically with the fight that I’ve put in we’ve got guys like Ken Hershman and that giving 50 cent a call saying “we’re interested in putting Billy back on HBO”. So I’ve managed to turn it around, in doing so despite that I went out and fought I did leave the states with an “L”, but I think I left with my career in tact in terms of getting myself back on the big stage. So in the words of 50 cent – “Value wise, my value has gone up not down.”
“His exact words were the title means more to me than to him. Because if I can go out and put performances just like that on then I can definitely bring the money in.”
Q: I know following the Luevano fight there were a lot of people critical of you. I know you did lose the title and there are not that many positive out of a defeat, but you can take away an increased fan base and maybe you’ve even answered a few critics?
BB: “The fight was a catapult, but in saying that I did lose the title. But you have to remember something, the title is only ever one fight away because I’m still rated highly and I have a rematch clause in place. If I want the rematch to be my next fight well then it’s possible that it could be my next fight.
“I went out and I made people who weren’t believers into believers and if you can make Dan Rafael a believer then you’re doing well. I spoke to Dan Rafael and he told me “You impressed me” and “You showed me things that I didn’t think you had.
“So, not that I’m proud that I’ve lost my title, but I’m proud that I’ve been in a fight of that magnitude as the main event on ESPN and put on the best performance for the ESPN audience.”
Q: What did 50cent say to you following the fight?
“His exact words when he got in the ring were – “You did more for your career in this fight then you’ve ever done”. He said you’ve done nothing to hurt yourself. He said keep your chin up and you’ve got a rematch in place so we’re just going to go back to the drawing board and work hard.
“Adam, with a guy like 50 cent behind me and the team members that we have in Gamboa and co anything is possible, titles could open up anywhere. You might even see me moving up in weight and challenging for another title who knows. The IBF has been good to me and I’m aligned with them at the moment but I’m just looking forward to getting back in the ring and evening up the score with Gradovich.”