MASHANTUCKET, CT — A new IBF featherweight champion was crowned with Evgeny Gradovich earning a bruising 12-round split decision over Billy Dib last night. It sure wasn’t the outcome 50 Cent wanted for Dib, who was the only champion in SMS Promotions, but overall it wasn’t a bad showing for 50′s first boxing event on network TV. Onto the highlights.
DIB ELECTS TO BRAWL, GRADOVICH MAKES HIM PAY: Dib had success early on roughing up Gradovich with mauling clinches filled with fouls. But after the third round, Gradovich settled into the pace and started to land short hooks inside which forced Dib to hold. Gradovich would keep this up for the rest of the fight and Dib couldn’t avoid Gradovich’s clubbing overhand rights. Dib did some underrated work to the body throughout the fight, but Gradovich looked so much stronger and shrugged off Dib’s power. On the other hand, Gradovich’s flush shots knocked Dib off-balance several times, especially in the all important championship rounds.
It was a ugly fight with both guys fouling and getting points docked in the eighth for holding, but the winner was never in question (even with one judge laughably giving Dib the nod with a 114-112 score). Thankfully, Gradovich got the well-deserved victory. And to give you an idea of how rough this fight was, take a look at the referee.
Dib was gracious in defeat, but he’s not a good investment for SMS Promotions. He’s not the guy that will help 50′s fledgling company get off the ground, so now’s a good a time as any for him to cut his losses. Other than that, 50 carried himself very well throughout the evening. The only thing that needs to be axed immediately are these ring-walks. If he had someone flamboyant like Broner it might could work, but the boxers look totally lost (Gamboa, Dirrell and Dib) and the performances come off very awkward.
NELSON BLOWS AWAY MEDINA: Ever punch someone so hard you broke their ankle? Willie Nelson can now hit people with that one-liner courtesy of his impressive blowout of the normally durable Michael Medina. Nelson doesn’t have one particular attribute that jumps out at you when you first see him, but on closer inspection you see that he’s sound in every area and uses his height and reach advantages. He can box behind the jab using said physical tools, or bang inside relying on a tight guard and sharp counter-punching. You got a little of all that in less than three minutes before he caught Medina with some hard right hands to close this one out. Nelson should get a shot at a major title this year.
LUIS OLIVARES STARTS WITH A BANG: 50 had a 24-year-old, junior welterweight fighter making his debut. Will be some years before we see if it pans out, but Olivares looked very good and had a killer left hook that put his opponent on the canvas twice.