Billy Dib (36-2, 21 KOs) won an unpopular majority decision over hometown fighter Mike Oliver (25-4, 8 KOs) at the Connecticut Convention Center, in Hartford, Conn.
The scores were 94-94, and 96-92 twice.
Dib, 27, who lost his IBF featherweight title to Evgeny Gradovich in his last outing, struggled with Oliver's quickness. His bodywork was effective until a few shots strayed low - prompting referee Mike Ortega to penalize Dib a point in round two. Oliver, a southpaw, found a home for his right on a couple of occasions. Dib landed another shot below the border in round three. Ortega promptly took another point away from Dib, who shook his head in disbelief.
Dib worked the head and shoulders of Oliver in round four. He was playing a game of catch-up. Oliver's quick hands continued to befuddle him. Dib kept up the pressure in rounds five and six. He pushed Oliver into the ropes and fired combinations. Some landed, more missed. Oliver worked with his back against the ropes. The Hartford native lost his last fight by knockout, but his confidence was growing. He stuck out his tongue at Dib and smiled.
Oliver,33, worked in spots in rounds seven and eight. Dib was punching more and landing. Oliver had no problem finding him with rights, but Dib was outworking him. Oliver looked tired in round nine. Dib stole the round with activity and pressure.
In the last round, Oliver found his second wind. He tattooed Dib with combinations. Dib looked surprised. He caught Oliver with a left and two uppercuts.
Dib wants a rematch with Gradovich. He'll likely get it next year. His performance tonight won't make the defending champion lose any sleep.
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