By Rick Reeno
In an earlier article on BoxingScene.com, Adam Houda, the personal attorney for IBF featherweight champion Billy Dib (35-1, 21KOs), officially confirmed that his client is no longer defending his title on December 1st at Madison Square Garden in New York. Dib was being positioned to fight undefeated contender Jayson Velez (19-0, 14KOs) as part of the Showtime televised card which features Miguel Cotto vs. Austin Trout in the main event.
"My client Billy "The Kid" Dib will not be fighting December 1 [in] New York. It appears Billy has been caught in the cross-fire of boxing politics," Houda said in a written statement.
Dib and members of his team, including rapper turned promoter Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, are under the belief that a behind the scenes feud, and boxing politics, were directly responsible for the Australian champion's removal from the show.
The December card is being promoted by Miguel Cotto Promotions, with Golden Boy Promotions and adviser Al Haymon assisting with the show. It's no secret that a few months ago 50 Cent tried to persuade his former best friend, Floyd Mayweather Jr., to break his business ties with Golden Boy and Haymon.
Showtime's Stephen Espinoza, the Executive Vice President and General Manager of Sports and Event Programming, denies that any politics or behind the scenes feuds were responsible for the network's decision to not approve Dib as the opponent for Velez.
"In describing this decision as a product of politics is ridiculous. This was a decision that was made based on what would result in the best programming...the most exciting fight for our viewers. I know that's a subjective evaluation and people can disagree with it but that was our determination. We don't make decisions on the basis of politics, on the basis of feuds between promoters or feuds between boxers. Our only goal is to get the best programming, and that's the single criteria that we use in determining which fights we are going to be presenting to our subscribers," Espinoza told BoxingScene.com.
"I understand that there were a series of discussions between the various promoters and quite candidly I don't know how long they went on. I do know that as soon as I found out about the possibility of Billy Dib as a potential opponent, I immediately expressed my concerns about it and expressed quite clearly that I prefer a different opponent. So The concept that Billy was kicked off the broadcast because of pressure or anything similar to that - there is just no basis for saying that...it is not true."
Members of 50 Cent's company, SMS Promotions, argue that a few months ago Showtime approved Dib as the opponent for Gary Russell Jr. That fight was originally targeted for the September 15th quadrupleheader, headlined by Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. That fight never happened, but Espinoza indicates that each particular fight and each particular event have their own set of factors.
"The network's decision to approve or disapprove a particular opponent is a decision that's made in the context of a number of different circumstances, some of which are unique to each specific situation. I'm not aware and I can't think of anybody that we wouldn't have on Showtime under any circumstances and that's certainly not the case with Billy Dib in particular," Espinoza said.
"But the evaluation that goes on includes such factors, among other things - what other opponents may be available, the styles of the two fighters involved and how well they match with each other, how much time before a particular event to find an alternate opponent and a whole range of other factors. Each decision is made based on the facts of a specific event. There may be certain circumstances where matchups would be a good choice and there could circumstances where other matchups, with the same fighter, would not be good a choice based on the styles or the availability of others opponents or a range of different factors."