Gradovich calls Dib ‘dirty’ ahead of title fight
MACAU (AP) — Russia’s Evgeny Gradovich accused opponent Billy Dib of being a dirty fighter ahead of their IBF featherweight title fight in Macau on Sunday.
The fight, on the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-Brandon Rios main event, is a rematch of their title bout in the United States in March, which Gradovich won by a split decision.
Both fighters had points deducted in that bout, and Australia’s Dib has had points docked in three of his past four fights.
“He is a different kind of fighter and sometimes he is a dirty fighter,” Gradovich said of Dib in an interview with The Associated Press on Friday. “If he wants to hold me I will wrestle because I know wrestling.”
Dib had points taken off in recent fights for holding, a low blow and holding while hitting. For a boxer whose fights usually go to a judges’ decision, he recognized that such penalties were a losing proposition.
“Some of the points that have been deducted are questionable but I have cleaned up my game,” Dib said. “Fighting clean is the best way, that way you don’t lose any points.”
The Australian was confident of taking the belt at The Venetian casino on Sunday, saying Gradovich was a predictable opponent.
“His strength is that he is a very aggressive fighter, comes forward and throws a lot of punches,” Dib said. “His weakness is he’s one dimensional, and that’s a really bad weakness to have because I’ve worked him out now. He can’t bring anything different. He just relies on breaking somebody down.
“I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for this guy last time around. There wasn’t enough time to acclimatize my style to his style, but now I’ve had a long time to prepare and I know him backwards.”
Gradovich, who is trained by Rios’ head trainer Robert Garcia, said Dib will not get the same benevolent treatment from the judges he believed the Australian received in their previous bout.
“The last fight he had his judges, his promoters, his everything, and this time it’s different,” Gradovich said.
Among the other fights on the extensive nine-bout undercard include the heavyweight fight between Mexico’s Andy Ruiz Jr. and American Tor Hamer and the flyweight bout between two-time Olympic gold medalist Zou Shiming of China and Mexico’s Juan Tozcano.
In order to have the fights broadcast during the prime-time evening hours in the U.S., the undercard will begin at 8 a.m. Macau time (0000 GMT), requiring the fighters to wake up very early to get their pre-fight preparations done.
For Dib, though, the early start fits in neatly with his standard routine back home in Australia where he spars in the morning.
“I actually perform better at this time,” Dib said. “Sitting around all day waiting for the time to come around, that gets you tired and sluggish, so I can wake up fresh, get in the ring fresh and win fresh.”