Russian fighter Evgeny Gradovich (18-0, 9) successfully defended his IBF Featherweight title for the second time as he defeated Australian Billy Dib (36-3-0-1, 21) for the second time inside a year.
The two men, who fought to a scrappy decision earlier this year, knew that this fight meant a lot. For Dib it was his chance to become a 2-time world champion and a chance to avenge a loss that he probably didn't feel he deserved. For Gradovich however it was a chance to prove he really did deserve to be "a world champion".
Unfortunately for Dib he looked like a fighter who had regressed massively from their first meeting. It was obvious from the first round that he didn't believe in himself and this allowed Gradovich, typically a slow starter, to take the opening round as he began to that infamous engine of his rolling.
Although it took a few rounds for Gradovich to reach full output it was obvious he was claiming rounds with his work rate, aggression and pressure. Dib was struggling to have more than a flash of success here and there and Gradovich on the other hand was beginning to grind down his Australian opponent.
With Gradovich in charge after 4 rounds it was then Dib's turn to have success as he showed some genuine skill and fought back well from off the ropes. Unfortunately for Dib his success was easy to forget as Gradovich managed to flurry excellently just before the bell with what may have stolen him the round.
However round 5 was scored didn't really matter a Gradovich moved up a gear and scored a flash knockdown in the sixth. This was the start of the end for Dib who was ground down in rounds 7 and 8 as the Russian landed at will to the head and body of the Australian who was beginning to mentally fold.
Dib did manage to make it to round 9 though he was a spent force and it was little wonder that the bout was stopped after just 70 seconds of the round. Dib's speed and movement had been sapped and his defense had become porous to say the least.
With the stoppage loss on his record here I actually hope this is the last time I see Dib in action.