By Ryan Songalia
Billy “The Kid” Dib is quick to admit that he had lots of growing up to do following his lone professional blemish, a 2008 decision loss to then-WBO featherweight titlist Steven Luevano in Dib’s last appearance in America.
Dib, a 25-year-old native of Sydney, Australia, said he had everything given to him on a platter by his then-promoter Golden Boy Promotions at the time, and that the defeat gave him the wakeup call he needed.
“I became complacent,” admits Dib, 31-1 (19 KO).
Maturity had long been an issue for Dib, who grew up idolizing “Prince” Naseem Hamed for his ring antics and showmanship.
Dib’s youthfulness played a big role in him failing to make the 2004 Australian Olympic team. Prior to the Olympic trials, Dib was injured when he lost control of a motorcycle that had too much kick to it. He spent the next two weeks “wrapped like a mummy.”
“It was a silly mistake,” was the way Dib described the misadventure. “I was 17, young and stupid.”
Dib will get his second crack at a world title on July 29 when he faces Jorge Lacierva at the Olympic Park Sports Centre in New South Wales, Australia for the vacant IBF featherweight title.
This time, the Fight Night - Round 4 star says the games are over.
"There are many things that are different this time around which I will prove on the 29th of July," Dib said. "I realized after my loss that I would have to make a few changes.”
The major change, Dib says, was hiring trainer Billy Hussein, the brother of former world title challengers Nedal and Hussein Hussein.
Aside from Dib, Hussein’s other prized talent has been Aussie Garth Wood, who won last year’s Australian version of The Contender, and shocked many by knocking out former super middleweight champion Anthony Mundine (Mundine defeated Wood in a rematch).
Since teaming with Hussein, Dib has gone 10-0-1 with 8 KO, exhibiting knockout power that didn't typify his early career.
The only blemish on his record since then was a wild one-round affair with Kenichi Yamaguchi, when, after Dib himself had been down, Dib dropped Yamaguchi and hit him when he was down, causing a no-contest.
“I believe that I have become a better all-around fighter under the guidance of Billy and my new team,” said Dib.
Lacierva, a hard-nosed, hard-chinned 32-year-old native of Mexico, has an uneven record of 39-7-6 (26 KO) that was built against some of the toughest competition available in the lighter weights over the past decade, including Mark Johnson, Celestino Caballero and Cruz Carbajal.
Lacierva is also on a bit of a streak himself, having won seven straight since losing a bid for a 122-pound title against Caballero. He represents the toughest physical challenge of Dib's seven-year pro career to date.
"I expect nothing less than a tough fight and that is why I'm preparing and training so hard for my next challenge," said Dib. "He is a tremendous fighter and a typical Mexican with a massive amount of heart. He has definitely proven that in the past, giving top fighters such as Celestino Caballero a really hard time.
"In saying that though, I will be both physically and mentally prepared to conquer this next challenge and will prove my worth in the Featherweight division."
A title win will go a long way towards erasing images of his only defeat, but Dib is hoping for a more up-close shot at redemption back in America.
“I have a burning desire to perform on the big stage. Golden Boy and I still share a close friendship; look for me to be back in the States in the not-to-distant future.”
Noted author and essayist F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “There are no second acts in American lives.”
He didn’t say anything about Australians. -RS
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to GMA News and the Filipino Reporter newspaper in New York City. He can be reached at [email protected]. An archive of his work can be found atwww.ryansongalia.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ryansongalia.