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Australian Billy Dib defends the International Boxing Federation featherweight crown Friday against Russia's unbeaten Evgeny Gradovich, a fill-in replacement fighter hoping for an upset.
Dib is 35-1 with 21 knockouts and has won 14 fights in a row, all in Australia, since suffering the only loss of his career in October of 2008, a unanimous 12-round decision to US southpaw Steve Luevano in Atlantic City.
In his first American fight since that defeat, Dib comes to Foxwoods Casino to make the third defense of a crown he won in 2011 by unanimous decision over Mexico's Jorge Lacierva.
The 27-year-old from Sydney won a unanimous 10-round decision last July over Mexico's Juan Antonio Rodriguez in his most recent start.
Dib was to have originally faced mandatory challenger Mauricio Munoz, but the Argentine fighter withdrew due to injury, giving Cuban-born Luis Franco a chance at the crown before he pulled out, unhappy with the contract terms.
That opened the door to Gradovich, who is 15-0 with eight knockouts and making his third start in five months.
"Now I have just as tough, if not a tougher, test in front of me in Gradovich," Dib said. "It's going to be an all-out punch up. The fans can definitely expect to see a great fight."
Gradovich, 26, comes off a seventh-round stoppage of American Willie Villanueva in December.
"I'm thrilled to have this opportunity," Gradovich said. "Becoming a world champion has been a lifelong dream of mine. This is going to be a very special night for me. I'm already in great shape. I'm going to show the world what I'm capable of."