Not 24 hours after defending his title, Chris John already faces questions about his next foe. The man known as “The Dragon” retained his World Boxing Association featherweight super champion belt on Wednesday, beating Stanyslav Merdov of Ukraine by unanimous decision at Challenge Stadium in Perth, Australia.
Now there is movement toward setting up a fight against Billy Dib of Australia, the International Boxing Federation featherweight champion.
“After the fight my promoter asked me ‘How about a unification bout against Billy Dib?’ I told him that it’s fine by me,” said Chris, 32. “I think it will be a great fight. I always want to unify titles from other boxing organizations because that will be a great challenge for me.”
Last week, the Daily Telegraph newspaper in Australia reported that Dib, who defended his title with a first-round knockout of Italy’s Alberto Servidei on Nov. 19, was gunning for a unification bout against Chris.
Sampson Lekowicz, Chris’s fight advisor, put a hefty $700,000 price tag on the bout, $200,000 more than the Indonesian usually earns per fight. Dib’s manager Michael Karagiannis told the newspaper the bout still had “a 70 percent chance” of happening.
Dib has made no secret of his eagerness to fight Chris, telling the Australian Association Press on Nov. 22 that the Indonesian champion was “scared” and “trying to get a payout.”
Promoter Raja Sapta Oktohari confirmed talks had taken place with Dib’s camp. He gave few details, though he did mention the US, Singapore and Indonesia as possible venues for the fight.
After defending his title for the 15th time since first winning it in 2003, Chris rejected allegations that he had only fought weak opponents such as Merdov, 35.
“That was a grueling bout. I repeatedly hit [Merdov] hard, but he just didn’t give up. He even cut my right temple,” said Chris, who received four stitches on the wound. “I think he was the toughest opponent for me since I won the belt.”
Eusebio Pedroza of Panama holds the record for featherweight title defenses with 19, from 1978 to 1985.
US fighter Johnny Kilbane has the division’s longest title reign, from 1912 to 1923, though he made just nine defenses in that span.