Australia's Billy Dib may activate a rematch clause after losing the IBF featherweight title on a split points decision to Russian Evgeny Gradovich. A devastated Billy Dib may exercise the option of a rematch clause, after he lost his IBF featherweight boxing world title to Russian Evgeny Gradovich in an upset in Connecticut.
Making his third defence, Sydneysider Dib (35-2, 21 KOs) dropped a 12-round split decision to Gradovich (16-0, 8 KOs) at the Foxwoods Resort on Friday. Two judges scored the fight 114-112 to Gradovich, while their colleague had Dib ahead 114-112.
Gradovich outworked Dib over the second half of the fight and the deposed champion's management had no complaints about the scoring. It was a scrappy and rugged fight featuring countless inside exchanges, with Gradovich constantly coming forward. Each man was deducted a point by American referee Eddie Claudio in the eighth round for excessive holding.
For Dib, it was his first loss in four-and-a-half years and 15 fights, since his only other defeat by Steve Luevano. Robert Garcia, who trained Luevano that night, was also in Gradovich's corner, as the 11th-ranked challenger completed a fairytale after taking the fight at short notice.
Dib 27, got off to good start in the first couple of rounds as he looked to impress in his first American fight since the loss to Luevano. Gradovich 26, gained in confidence as the bout progressed and particularly after he sent Dib reeling with a powerful left hook in the fifth.
"He gave us what he expected a hard tough fight," Dib's brother and manager Emaid Dib told AAP from Connecticut.
"To Gradovich's credit he fought out of his skin, he really fought well.
"We've got a rematch clause and Billy will be back."
Asked if he thought his brother would exercise the rematch option Emaid said: "I hope so.
"He's just devastated as you can imagine.
"He went in there, he tried hard."
Dib was accidentally cut by an elbow near his left ear early in the fight and finished the contest with blood pouring from a wound near his right eye.
"Billy has pulled up well," Emaid Dib said.
"He's got a couple of cuts, some were from head butts, some from punches.
"But nothing a couple of stitches can't fix."