Billy Dib vs Evgeny Gradovich
In just his sixteenth professional bout, underdog and late replacement Evgeny Gradovich dethroned IBF featherweight champion Billy Dib in the main event of ESPN's Friday Night Fights in Mashantucket, Connecticut.
The champion Dib (35-1) looked to move and land, while Gradovich, nicknamed "The Mexican Russian" for his aggressive style, came forward throughout and connected with bigger shots.
The physical scrap saw each man warned in the third round to clean up the action after head clashes, elbows, and hitting on the break. By the end of the round, Dib was bleeding from the nose and had developed swelling above his left eye.
A left hand in the fourth caught Dib off balance and sent him stumbling backward. Also in the fourth a cut opened the left side of Dib's head, above the ear, from what the referee rules and unintentional elbow.
In Round 8, both men were deducted a point for holding.
By the end of the bout, Dib was bleeding heavily from a cut above his right eye, while Gradovich's face was marked up and he had swelling to his left cheek. Referee Eddie Claudio, who was was forced to separate the fighters often, was covered with blood following the twelfth round.
It was the first defeat for Dib since October of 2008, when he lost via unanimous decision to WBO champion Steven Luevano(35-1-1).