Billy Dib vs. Mike Oliver: Preview and Prediction for Featherweight Bout
On Friday, July 5, at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, former featherweight world champion Billy Dib of Australia will look to get back on the winning side of the ledger against Mike Oliver. The fight is 10 rounds and will be broadcast live on ESPN.
The last time Dib fought on a Friday Night Fights card in Connecticut was last March, when he dropped his IBF belt to Evgeny Gradovich. But he remains among the top-ranked 126-pound fighters on the planet. It's also a big opportunity for Oliver.
Tale of the Tape
Dib is the taller fighter, but Oliver actually has a reach advantage of a half-inch. Oliver had an extensive amateur career and has been fighting and winning as a professional for years, but Dib has more total fights and rounds.
Oliver has only eight career stoppages, against 21 for Dib. Boxing is about a lot more than punching hard, especially at the lower weight classes, but that's still a significant power advantage.
Oliver will be fighting in front of his hometown crowd, but Dib is the promoter's fighter.
This fight is Billy Dib's return to action after dropping his title to Evgeny Gradovich via split decision last March. That fight was a minor upset, as Gradovich entered with only 15 professional bouts.
Dib has been among the most successful fighters to emerge from Australia in recent years and was one of the first fighters to sign with Curtis Jackson's new promotional entity. The Friday Night Fights card is being promoted by the rapper, and he will likely perform on the show.
For Mike Oliver, this may be his last big chance. He has not fought since going down by TKO to Juan Manuel Lopez in October 2011.
If nothing else, it would be a nice career highlight for Oliver to knock off one of the division's stars in front of his own hometown crowd.
Billy Dib is an athletic fighter. He has very good defensive head movement and quick feet that help him get into and out of scoring range smoothly.
Dib has a sharp, quick jab and uses it well to set up his straight right. He mixes up his punches well, occasionally leading with the uppercut or hook, and stringing the punches onto his jab. He is a good body puncher.
Although he is primarily an orthodox fighter, Dib is able to switch to southpaw, making him even more awkward to fight.
Mike Oliver had nearly 300 fights as an amateur and has been a professional since 2001. He is a skilled boxer.
Oliver circles and controls distance very well with his footwork. He can be a tough target to land on. He has quick hands and can pile on scoring before moving to safety.
Billy Dib has lost points in the past for holding and hitting, and has sustained costly cuts as a result of leading with his head. In a fight with a southpaw, the danger of a cut is that much higher.
In his last fight, Dib showed a bad habit of leaving his jab fully extended, which made it easier for Gradovich to muscle inside on him.
I wonder if Dib didn't take Gradovich too lightly, as well. The Russian was the far less experienced professional fighter and took the fight on a month's notice.
It would be easy for Dib to look past Oliver, as well.
Mike Oliver has been out of action for the better part of two years, and his last time out, he got pounded down by Juan Manuel Lopez, one of the heaviest hitters in the division. That's a significant layoff for a fighter who is 33, and Billy Dib is not a good opponent to be rusty against.
Oliver's lack of punching power is probably what has held him back from reaching the higher levels of the sport. He caught Lopez with flush shots that seemed to have no effect.
Billy Dib Will Win If...
Dib should start aggressively, jumping on Oliver in the first round and forcing the pace, to test the 33-year-old after his long layoff from the ring. Dib has the larger frame and should try to bully Oliver, though he needs to be careful not to lose points on fouls.
As Oliver looks to circle away to the outside, Dib should move in quickly behind his jab, then follow with an uppercut as he enters the trenches up close. Dib fights very well moving forward and backward, and he should spend a lot of time pressing hard on Oliver, looking to make the hometown fighter carry his weight, to tire him out quicker.
This is similar to how the fight went down against Gradovich in his loss last March. But Gradovich is a completely different fighter than Oliver, and he was able to get the better of the in-fighting.
Dib needs to be careful of the accidental headbutt. It's always a danger with a southpaw fighter, and Dib has a history of them. The last thing he needs to do is come away with a no-contest due to an early cut from an accidental butt.
Mike Oliver Will Win If...
Winning this fight will not be an easy proposition for Oliver. He'll essentially have to fight the best fight of his life, after a layoff of roughly 20 months, at an age when a lot of fighters start to show signs of age.
He's going to need to use his jab and footwork to keep Dib on the outside as much as possible. He has very good footwork, and if he can make Dib chase him, he should be able to catch him with a counter.
Oliver should look to sneak his lead right foot to the outside of Dib's lead left as the Australian attacks. If he can manage to do that, he'll be in a good position to score with a quick flurry before moving back out of range.
A big part of the equation for Oliver is going to be what he has done in the gym leading up to this fight. The fight plan he needs to win will take great conditioning.
I've got to give 50 Cent some credit here. He may be new to the boxing promotion game, but he's handling his fighter, Dib, like an experienced promoter.
He's got Dib back on national television, against a hometown fighter who should sell a lot of tickets, but shouldn't seriously threaten Dib's bid to get back on the winning track. It's even an opponent who should allow Dib the opportunity to look very good.
Nothing is sure in a fight, but I see Dib winning this one with ease. The fact that Oliver has been out of action since October 2011 leads me to question his overall desire at this point in his career.
Maybe a chance like this, in front of his family and friends, will light a fire under him. I'm certainly not expecting Oliver to lie down. But boxing is a business, and this fight looks a lot like a payday first and foremost.
There's no question that Dib, coming off the loss of his belt, will be motivated to win. I think he's a better all-around fighter. All three of Oliver's losses came by stoppage, and I don't see this turning out any differently.
Billy Dib by Round 5 TKO.