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Amir Khan Meets Billy Dib on Friday in a (Supposedly) Landmark Event

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  • Amir Khan Meets Billy Dib on Friday in a (Supposedly) Landmark Event

    Click image for larger version  Name:	AMir-Khan.jpg Views:	1 Size:	151.7 KB ID:	13559

    By Arne K. Lang

    Callum Smith vs. George Groves was the headline attraction in the first professional boxing match of note in Saudi Arabia. They fought last year in Jeddah on Sept. 28 in the finals of the World Boxing Super Series super middleweight tournament. At stake was the Muhammad Ali trophy and Groves’ WBA world title belt. Smith (TKO 7) left with the hardware.

    Tomorrow’s show pitting Amir Khan (pictured) against Billy Dib in the main event is less historic – there can only be one first – but you wouldn’t guess it from all the hype. “This will be a landmark event that puts Jeddah on the world boxing map,” says Indo-British entrepreneur Bill Dosanjh, Khan’s longtime advisor. “We intend to make Saudi Arabia a big fight capital just like Las Vegas, New York, and London,” says Khan.

    Khan was originally slated to fight Neeraj Gayat, a fighter from India. That would have given the promoters a natural hook. The rivalry between India and Pakistan in cricket has been called the fiercest rivalry in all of sports. Amir Khan was born in England but his family’s roots are in Pakistan.

    Against Gayat, who has conquered only four opponents with winning records while building an 11-3-2 ledger, Khan would have almost certainly won every minute of every round, assuming he didn’t lead with his chin. But Gayat suffered injuries in a car accident on June 26 and was forced to withdraw, opening the door to Billy Dib who was slated to appear on the undercard.

    On paper Dib (45-5, 26 KOs) is a far stronger opponent than Gayat. An Australian born to a Lebanese father and a Palestinian mother, Bilal “Billy” Dib (not to be confused with his cousin, junior lightweight campaigner Billel Dib) won the WBC featherweight title in 2011 and held it for 19 months. In his most recent match against a top-tier opponent, he went 12 rounds in a losing effort vs. WBC 130-pound title-holder Tevin Farmer.

    And therein lies the rub. For his bout with Farmer, staged 11 months ago in Australia, Dib carried 129 ½ pounds. Now he will be competing as a welterweight.

    “I don’t want to be facing a Keith Thurman, a Shawn Porter, an Errol Spence Jr or a Terence Crawford,” said Dib, conceding that the 2019 edition of Amir Khan isn’t on their level. "Those guys are so elite. (Khan) has been in really big fights and has been hurt on a number of occasions. I don’t think your chin gets any stronger as your career goes on.”

    Khan (35-5, 20 KOs) was a big star in England before he left the amateur ranks. At the age of 17, he advanced to the finals of the Beijing Olympics where he lost a close decision to a Cuban widely regarded as the best amateur in the world. He went on to win the WBA 140-pound title and made five successful defenses. But since losing the title on a controversial decision to Lamont Peterson, his career has been choppy. Canelo Alvarez took him out with one punch which wasn’t entirely unexpected.

    In his last fight, it wasn’t his chin that betrayed him but his groin. In the sixth round of his fight with Terence Crawford at Madison Square Garden, he took a punch on the cup, dictating a five-minute recess, during which his trainer Virgil Hunter decided there was no point in continuing.

    Khan was vilified as a quitter on social media but that may have been a cheap shot. As noted by Gareth Davies of the Telegraph, Khan peed blood in his dressing room and was taken to the hospital as a precaution.

    Undercard

    In two undercard bouts of note, Hughie Fury will meet Samuel Peter in a 10-round heavyweight contest and Filipino southpaw Dave Penalosa will meet South Africa’s Lerato Dlamini in a featherweight match scheduled for 12 rounds.

    The six-foot-six Fury, the cousin of Tyson Fury, isn’t known as a big puncher but has lost only twice in 24 starts, those coming at the hands of Joseph Parker and Kubrat Pulev. Samuel Peter, a former WBC title-holder who fought both Klitschko brothers, Wladimir twice, was once touted as the hardest-hitting heavyweight to come down the pike since Mike Tyson, but that was a long time ago.

    Peter (38-7, 31 KOs) retired after getting TKOed by Robert Helenius in 2011, but returned to the ring 42 months later and has been treading water ever since. Three of his last four wins have come in Tijuana against opponents with losing records; the other in Oklahoma City against a 48-year-old man who weighed 301 pounds.

    Peter scaled 261 ¼ for tomorrow’s fight, down from 286 ½ in his most recent assignment, but his stomach still hangs conspicuously over his shorts.

    The winner of the Penalosa- Dlamini match will claim the WBC Silver title and will presumably be on track to add the Gold and Platinum belts.

    Dlamini (12-1, 6 KOs) is undefeated since losing his pro debut. Penalosa (15-0, 11 KOs) is a third-generation prizefighter. His father Diosdado “Dodie Boy” Penalosa and his uncle Geronimo “Gerry” Penalosa were world title-holders. Dodie Boy was a champion at 108 and 112 pounds. Gerry, nine years younger, won his world title at 115.

    Penalosa will have the crowd in his corner. Saudi Arabia has the largest population of Filipinos in Asia, an estimated 1.2 million in the workforce, the vast majority undocumented.

    ----

    Khan-Dib, Fury-Peter (and perhaps more) will air in the U.K. on Channel 5, a free TV network, and that’s appropriate as, to be blunt, this show is crap. But as for Jeddah someday rivaling New York, London, and Las Vegas as an epicenter of professional boxing, why that wouldn’t surprise us at all. Boxing promoters have always followed the money and the Saudi General Sports Authority, an arm of the staggeringly wealthy royal family, is apparently awash in money and keen to dole it out in big doses to stimulate Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry.

    Amir Khan’s purse is reportedly $7 million, $4 million more than he earned for fighting Terence Crawford, and there’s already talk that he will return to Jeddah to take on Manny Pacquiao in what would be a far more lucrative payday.

    Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

  • #2
    I have interest in almost any professional boxing match but that said will not be going out of my way to view this one. There are plenty more options today...

    Khan has been pushing for a Pacquiao contest for years. If memory serves correct, several years ago they were "close" to agreeing to a fightto take place in the Middle East but that fell apart almost as quickly as the rumors sprang. But if the money is there, then it probably will happen assuming Khan wins (and regardless of the result of Pac's contest next week(.

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