Billy Dib says farewell to the fight game

Letting go is never easy.

Sydney’s Billy Dib had hoped for one final hurrah in the form of another world crown when he faced off with flashy American Tevin Farmer for the IBF super featherweight world title at Redfern’s Technology Park last Friday night, but it wasn’t to be.

Farmer proved to be too much for Dib and despite the hometown hero showing a ton of heart, the visitor walked away with a points decision and the world title belt wrapped around his waist.

At the conclusion of the bout an emotional Dib decided it was time to walk away from the sport that had given him so much.

“Life’s been treating me a bit hard but right now I’m in a happy place,” Dib said after the fight.

With tears in his eyes it was clear that Dib’s trials and tribulations, both in and out of the ring had culminated in this one moment.

This was Dib letting go of all he’s ever known.

“To all the fans, thank you so much for supporting me over my career,” he said.

“I just want to say thank you very much, and guys, this is officially the last time I’ll step into the squared circle and I want everyone to know that no matter what happens in your life just keeping working hard.”

“Dreams come true because this was a dream of mine to fight for a world title at home and I’ve done it.”

Dib, a veteran of 48 professional bouts leaves the sport as one of Australia’s best having won both the IBF featherweight and IBO super featherweight titles.

After some fourteen years in the sport, it was clear to Dib that this loss meant it was time to say goodbye.

“I had no plans on ever becoming a gatekeeper for anyone, or an opponent,” Dib told Aus-Boxing.

“There’s nothing to be ashamed of in my career, I’m 43-5 and my record in world title fights is 5-5. I’ve only ever lost at the top of the food chain.”

Dib first walked into a boxing gym at the age of twelve and it didn’t take long for him to connect with a fighter whom he identified with in more ways than one.

“When I was 13 I discovered Prince Naseem Hamed through my trainer Harry Hammoud, who was a massive fan of his,” says Dib.

“He said this is exactly who I want you to fight like, I want you to be exactly like the Prince.

“I started watching a lot of his fights and became a big fan myself.

“Then at the age of 17, after writing to Naseem on many occasions and trying to organise a meeting I eventually met somebody that knew him and through the help of Adam Houda we were able to put that together and I finally met the Prince and forged a friendship and brotherhood that lasts to this day.”

Dib, like Hamed, had plans of becoming a world champion when he turned professional in 2004 and things really began to take shape for the young fighter just two years later when he signed with Golden Boy Promotions, something he looks back on fondly.

“At 21 years of age and getting signed to Golden Boy Promotions with names like Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley and Bernard Hopkins, it was just amazing,” Dib says.

“My first professional fight under them was on the Winky Wright-Ike Quartey undercard and I fought on all the major cards after that, it was just great to be able to showcase my abilities.

Dib finally got a shot at his dream of a world crown when he took on American Steve Luevano for the WBO featherweight title at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City in 2008.

After some early success in the fight it was Luevano who took the decision.

It would be another three years of hard work and dedication to the sport before Dib once again challenged for world honours.

Under the direction of Billy Hussein, Dib went on to defeat Mexican Jorge Lacierva and his dream of becoming a world champion had become a reality.

“There was this dream that I had, I just didn’t know if it would come true but when I started getting so close and I was working so hard under the guidance of Billy Hussein, I excelled,” Dib says.

“He (Billy) had a plan and it worked to a tee.

“When the opportunity came up to fight for the IBF world title, I was more than ready. We just capitalised on that and I won it and brought the title back to Australia.”

Dib defended the title twice before losing it to Russian-born Evgeny Gradovich via a split decision in the U.S but it wouldn’t be long before Dib was back on the biggest stage of all.

In May of 2015 Dib set up a bout with the fearsome puncher Takashi Miura. He travelled to Tokyo, Japan in attempt to wrest the WBC super featherweight crown from the champion.

Despite a quick start, Dib was stopped in the third round and thoughts of retirement followed but encouragement from his then wife Sara were enough to see Dib have one more run at reaching the top.

“After I lost to Takashi Miura for the WBC title I sat with my family and had a big discussion, it was all but a done deal, I was going to announce my retirement,” Dib says.

“We had discussed it and then out of the blue my then wife Sara was diagnosed with cancer.

“During her battle with it we spent a lot of time together and she could tell I was a little bit unhappy about my career being over and she shared some really encouraging words and sent me some text messages.”

Sara passed away in September of 2015 and despite the hardships that Dib would endure he found solace in a return to the ring and with trainer Jeff Fenech in his corner, Dib’s return culminated in last Friday’s world title fight on home soil.

Despite the loss, Dib is more than content with his career.

“I’ve had some amazing successes and experienced things that some fighters can only dream of,” Dib states proudly.

“I reached the pinnacle of the sport by winning a world title when I won the IBF featherweight world title and I also won the IBO super featherweight world title,”

“I reached the pinnacle of the sport and to be involved in ten world title fights is an achievement I’m very, very proud of.”

Words: Dan Attias/Follow Dan on Twitter
Photo: Warren S Photography