Danny Flexen assesses Amir Khan vs Billy Dib and decides if it is a better contest than the injured Neeraj Goyat would have provided
As you will probably know by now, the Saudi Arabian clash between Amir Khan and Neeraj Goyat is off, after the latter sustained injuries in a car crash. The July 12 Jeddah show remains on, however, with Australia’s Billy Dib stepping in at just over two weeks’ notice. So... is it a better fight?
Goyat was a half-decent amateur but turned pro as an MMA fighter, winning his two contests before switching to traditional boxing. His 11-3-2 (2) record suggests an average boxer at best. Three fights ago he lost to a debutant who went on to drop his next two bouts. Dib started boxing aged 12, winning 98 out of 133 amateur bouts and holds an impressive 45-5 (26) professional ledger. Dib is a classy, skilful pro and, even at age 33, leagues above Goyat.
Former world champion
Dib reigned as IBF featherweight champion from 2011-2013, making two successful defences before ceding the belt to Evgeny Gradovich on a split decision. Slick and accurate, with plenty of heart, Dib was a solid if unremarkable global ruler.
No longer world level
Since that points loss to Gradovich, Dib has gone 10-3 with one No Contest but the three defeats were both crushing setbacks at world level. First, Gradovich broke him down in nine rounds of their 2013 rematch. Dib moved up to super-feathered but was battered (three sessions) by WBC champion Takashi Miura in 2015. Following a subsequent six-fight unbeaten run, opposite mixed opposition, Dib secured a battle for the vacant IBF strap but was widely outscored by Tevin Farmer, after which he announced a short-lived retirement.
The most Dib has ever scaled as a pro is just a quarter-pound over the 135lb lightweight limit, in an April tune-up match. Clearly, he was chosen at least partly because Billy could easily make 147lbs at very short notice - it may well be lighter than his ’walking-around’ weight. At 5ft 7 1/2 ins he isn’t markedly shorter than Khan but the Bolton man is broad-backed and has competed at welter or above since 2014 (seven fights). The scale of Dib’s challenge (pun intended) is at least as steep as when Khan lost valiantly to the far larger Canelo Alvarez in 2016.
As an event, this is harmed by the loss of the Pakistan vs India angle and Goyat, while clearly outclassed, would have been hugely motivated to make his country proud. In a boxing match, even the small, faded Dib, at short notice, should be better placed to challenge Khan on a technical level, although as a welter since 2015 Goyat could perhaps have matched the British-Pakistani for strength. Khan should still get the stoppage he was no doubt expecting, but may have to go a few more rounds.