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Azad Championship Report: 50 Cent, Lou DiBella and Evgeny Gradovich Deliver an Upset Special

Photo © Ed Diller, DiBella Entertainment
Photo © Ed Diller, DiBella Entertainment

In a thriller on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights, 50 Cent’s SMS Promotions’ Billy “the Kid” Dib (35-2, 21 KOs) of Australia lost his IBF featherweight belt to Russia’s Evgeny Gradovich, (16-0, 8 KOs) by split decision held at the Foxwoods Resort Casino’s MGM Grand Theater. Judge Don Trella had it 114-112 Gradovich. Judge Glenn Feldman felt the same at 114-112 Gradovich. Judge Don Ackerman was straight trippin’ with a score of 114-112 Dib.


Early on, the quicker Dib darted in and out, moving side to side and pumping a quick jab into Gradovich’s face. But Gradovich, dubbed “The Russian Mexican” and trained by 2012 Trainer of the Year Robert Garcia out of Oxnard’s Robert Garcia Boxing Academy, had to have it tonight.


In the third, ref Eddie Claudio warned both men for rough tactics. In the eighth, he took points from both for holding. By then, Gradovich had slowly turned the tide and had beaten Dib to the body enough that Dib was in retreat and wilting a bit in the legs. Gradovich refused to be pushed backward. He came straight away and smashed into Dib, digging his heels into the canvas and flattening out against the former titleholder until the ref would break them.

On the inside, Gradovich won the bulk of the exchanges. His right rear straight was key. Dib would land his flush but Gradovich would be undeterred. When Gradovich landed, Dib flew back a bit and seemed affected by the punch whether it was with rubbery knees or simply being physically moved feet by it.  


This being an IBF title fight and wit the recent scandal breaking on, it was a tense moment as the cards were read. Online on twitter, the general consensus was that Gradovich had won. The commentators felt the same. For a few tense moments as the scores were read it appeared as it injustice might be done but instead, it was the glorious “And new  . . .!” and Gradovich went wild.


The card featured the exciting debut of SMS Promotions’ light welterweight prospect Luis Olivares (1-0, 1 KO) who exploded a left hook on the face of Rafael Munoz (1-2) at 1:38 of the first round.


Also on the televised undercard, Cleveland, Ohio’s Willie Nelson (20-1-1, 12 KOs) took out Michael Medina in emphatic fashion. With his back to the ropes, the 6’3” Nelson exploded a right rear hand that felt almost like a hook and landed like a bomb to slam Medina to the canvas. Medina rose to his feet groggy. Nelson went in for the finish and a long right hand landed in the guard and partially on the face of Medina who stepped back awkwardly on the rear leg and twisted or damaged the ankle area somehow and fell as a left hook grazed him. The call was first round knockout and Nelson retained his North American Boxing Federation (NABF) light middleweight title.


The card, co-promoted by Lou DiBella and SMS Promotions, was a good one that gave us what we all crave: exciting TV action on a Friday night.

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