Billy Dib talks latest title run and Kye MacKenzie challenge

BILLY Dib has the kind of experience that cannot be bought, sold or traded in.

The former IBF featherweight and IBO super featherweight titleholder has a story that is familiar with most. It is one that is littered with hardship, success and an unwavering determination to succeed. Perhaps that is why he has stood firm as a relevant figure in Australian boxing for a decade.

But like any story worth telling, the final chapter is often the most important. For Dib (41-4, 23 KOs), his latest title run is centred around the IBF super featherweight crown, presently held by undefeated Puerto Rican Jose Pedraza.

As the 31-year-old goes on to explain, his setbacks have paved the way for a comeback of almighty proportions that started with Sukpraserd Ponpitak in February and continues against Tanzanian import Emilio Norfat tonight.

“I’ve had a little bit of a rough trot over the past year or so,” said Dib in an interview with Aus-Boxing. “I’ve been rebuilding and more less been finding happiness, getting back to what makes me happy in boxing. I’m really glad to be back in a position to fight for a world title sometime early next year.”

“To be honest – I just went back and pulled everything apart – and went back to enjoying the sport. For the last couple of years, I’ve been so caught up in feeling disheartened by the sport because of the stuff that happened with 50 Cent, being underpaid, being promised certain things and them not being delivered. So I have had to step away, I found myself fighting for money.”

“When I first started boxing it wasn’t about the money, it was about winning world titles and having fun. I sort of lost my way, but now I feel I found the fun in boxing again.”

“Right now I’m not doing it for the money. I just want to win a world title and bring it back to Australia again.”

Dib’s spat with former promoter Curtis Jackson and his now redundant promotional company SMS Promotions left the Sydney resident with a bad taste in his mouth. With no promoter and no apparent route back to a world title, Dib spent some valued time away with his family in order to gain perspective on both his professional career and personal life.

Looking back, Dib sees that time away as being a pivotal part of his rebuilding process.

“When certain personal things happened I began to sit back and think boxing was no longer worth it,” he explained. “I just wanted to spend more time with my family and friends. Boxing is so demanding and I’ve been preparing for ten weeks for this fight. It has left me with no time to spend with family and friends. You have to sacrifice so much, but the truth is I’m still young.”

“I’m only 31 years old and feel I still have so much more to offer the sport, I feel fresh. I went to America and did some training with Robert Garcia and his team and that was just an eye opener. I got to spar with some really good talent. It just proved to me that I still belong in the sport.”

“There are a lot of people out there that are thinking I’m in a vulnerable place right now and that they can catch me at the back end of my career. But I still feel fresh and still have a lot to offer and I think the sky is the limit in terms of what I still can do.”

A career spent alongside some of the biggest names in the sport has allowed Dib to not only network with many key influencers in the sport, but to also evaluate his position amongst the best fighters in the world.

And as far as Dib is concerned, he is right up there with the best. Because of this, Dib understands that fighters who are looking to establish their own names will continue to call him out, such as consensus number one lightweight George Kambosos Jr. and recently crowned Australian light welterweight titleholder Kye MacKenzie.

“The way I take it is I’m the cream of the crop in Australian boxing,” he continued. “I’m at the top in Australian boxing, even though there is some really good talent in Australian boxing right now like Jeff Horn.”

“When you look at the top ten in Australian ratings right now, you can see there is some really good talent and I’m in there. It’s only normal for these young guys to call me out. But the truth of it is that they are all pretenders acting as if they are contenders. Anyone can get a ranking when you pay for a sanctioning fee, but you need to test yourself with real fighters.”

“Just beating someone domestically doesn’t cut it. What they don’t understand is that when you face me, you are facing someone that is world experienced. I’ve been all over the world and trained with some of the best fighters in the world. I’ve tested myself – I know what I can do and how much I can take – but it’s all well and good calling me out.”

“Kye MacKenzie just called me out after beating Dylan Emery. Dylan is a good young fighter but he is up-and-coming, he isn’t battled tested yet. I’m battled tested and I’ve been there. I have suffered four defeats in my career, but I have been involved in nine world title fights. I’ve won five and lost four and the four losses were at the highest level.”

“I’ve only lost to the best of the best. I have never lost on the domestic level.”

It has been six years since Dib last faced an Australian-born opponent. Based on the fights and opponents that he is looking to challenge in the next twelve months, it appears highly unlikely that Dib will face any domestic opposition in the immediate future.

“So far it’s been a great journey, I’m not going anywhere,” he concluded. “I’m ranked number three in the world at the moment and next year I’m going to be fighting a world title eliminator and chase another world title fight. I have no doubt in my mind that I will get back that world championship and bring it back to Australia.”

“Without sounding brash and cocky, ideally I hope to mix it with some of the best fighters in the world, that’s my plan. Abner Mares has resurrected his career and is world champion again, everyone wrote him off and now he’s back. That is basically the same plan I have, people have written me off, but the people that matter know I’m still there and on the verge again.”

“I need to put some fear in some people. I need to prove I still belong at the top of the food chain.”

Photo: Warren S Photography