By Derek Bonnett from Ringside
ESPN’s Friday Night Fights returned to Connecticut to showcase Billy Dib’s third defense of the IBF featherweight title. The MGM Grand at Foxwoods played host to the event, which also saw Willie Nelson versus Michael Medina in a scheduled ten round bout for the NABF light middleweight title. The untelevised portion of the card featured several rising New England talents in developmental contests.
In the main event, Billy Dib, Sydney, Australia, met Evgeny Gradovich in a twelve round IBF featherweight title bout. Gradovich, a substitute for Luis Franco, forced the action all night in a high-paced contest. The champion worked hard to keep the fight close earlier on with cleaner punches, but by the mid-point the fight shifted as Dib bled from two cuts on his head and one on his right eye. A few rounds were tough to score, but the challenger separated himself over the final five rounds. The title changed hands after twelve hard fought rounds. The judges were divided with two favoring Gradovich 114-112 while the third somehow gave it to Dib by the same score. SecondsOut favored Gradovich 7-4-1 in rounds or 115-112 for Gradovich. The new champion Gradovich elevated his record to 16-0 (8). Dib fell to 35-2 (25) 1 NC.
Willie Nelson, Cleveland, Ohio, made an explosive impression on New England boxing fans, dropping and stopping Michael Medina at 2:00 of the first round. A straight right floored Medina for the first time and a looping right hand put him back down prompting the referee to stop the contest. Nelson raised his dossier to 20-1-1 (11). Medina crashed to 26-4-2 (19).
Crowd favorite, Ryan “The Polish Prince” Kielczewski met Gil Garcia in an eight round junior lightweight bout. Kielczewski withstood a lot of pressure from Garcia in the early goings of the bout, but kept control of the fight with a steady jab to control the distant and some solid body shots to sap his opponent’s strength for the later rounds. The Quincy Massachusetts fighter won a unanimous decision after eight rounds. Two judges favored him 80-72 while the third saw it the same as SecondsOut 79-73. Kielczewski raised his ledger to 16-0 (3). Garcia dropped to 5-4-1 (1).
New Haven, CT’s Luis “KO King” Rosa get off to an early start dropping Jhovanny Collado in the first round with a big left hook seconds before the bell. Rosa applied a stern attack to the head with wild hooks and his guard down, but Collado kept his feet underneath him from that point until the final bell. Rosa prevailed by 80-71 on all three judges’ cards. Rosa elevated his ring credentials to 13-0 (6). Collado fell to 4-7-2 (1).
Shelly Vincent, Providence, RI, won a four round shutout over Mikayla Nebel in a junior featherweight women’s bout. Vincent remained unbeaten at 8-0 (0). Nebel fell to 0-4.
Pro debuting 140-pounder Luis Olivares of Glendale, AZ stopped Rafael Munoz in less than two minutes of the first round. Olivares was recently signed by 50 Cent. He moved to 1-0 (1). Munoz fell to 1-2.
Welterweight Jimmy Williams, New Haven, CT, raised his record to 2-0 (1) with a four round unanimous decision over Ryanard Younger in a welterweight bout. All three judges scored the contest 40-36. Younger fell to 0-2.