MASHANTUCKET, Conn. (March 1, 2013) -- In a early "Fight of the Year" candidate, Evgeny "The Mexican-Russian" Gradovich (16-0, 8 KOs) upset defending champion Billy "The Kid" Dib (36-2, 21 KOs) by 12-round split decision for the International Boxing Federation (IBF) featherweight title, in tonight's main event in MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut. fee
The event was promoted by 50 Cent's SMS Promotions and DiBella Entertainment and sponsored by SMS Audio.
In a grueling battle of attrition, Gradovich took the fight to Dib, who won the first four rounds. Gradovich, however, won the last two rounds on all three judges' scorecards.
"I feel good," Gradovich commented. "I expected a very tough fight. Billy wasn't going to give up his championship easily. My game plan was to use my aggression - pressure, pressure, pressure! For right now, I just want to rest and then I'll be able to face the champions, contenders or top fighters in my division."
"First and foremost," Dib offered, "I want to congratulate Gradovich. He's tough and fought a good fight. I'd love a rematch; I gave him his shot, hopefully, he'll give me mine. I fought the wrong fight. I brawled too much. Again, he was the better fighter tonight."
A star was born in the co-feature as North American Boxing Federation (NABF) super welterweight champion Willie "The Great" Nelson (20-1-1, 12 KOs) exploded on the 154lb.-division with an electrifying first-round knockout of Michael "El Magnifico" Medina (26-4-2, 19 KOs). Nelson, rated No. 5 by the World Boxing Council (WBC), first dropped Medina with a vicious right hand. Medina beat the count but was floored by another lethal right and referee Arthur Mercante Jr. waived off the fight without counting. Medina was taken out of the ring on a stretcher due to an ankle injury. The co-feature was promoted in association with Rumble Time Promotions.
"This is the performance that we were looking for," Nelson said after the fight. "Since joining with Jack (Loew) and moving to 154-pounds, I feel like a completely different beast. This performance was a testament to all the hard work we've put in. I'm ecstatic. I feel like I'm ready for any of the top fighters in the 154-pound division."
"Willie Nelson is one of the most dangerous fighters in the world," noted DiBella, who co-promotes Nelson with Steve Smith (Rumble Time). "He is beast. Keith Thurman would go out on his ass. Compare who Willie and Thurman have fought. They passed on a fight with Willie. Willie's ready for any of the top 154-pounders in the world, including Canelo Alvarez."
Flashy junior lightweight Ryan "Polish Prince" Kielczweski (16-0, 3 KOs), fighting out of Quincy (Mass.), kept his perfect record intact, winning a unanimous eight-round decision over Gil Garcia (5-4-1, 1 KOs), of Houston. Kielczweski's impressive performance positioned him for a major step-up, a potential showdown against blue-chip prospect and 2008 Puerto Rico Olympian, Jose "Sniper" Pedraza.
New Haven (CT) featherweight Luis "KO King" Rosa Jr. (13-0, 6 KOs) remained unbeaten, taking an eight-round decision from New York City's Jhovany "The Underground King" Collado (4-7-2, 1 KO). The bell at the end of round one saved Collado, who was dropped by Rosa's crisp combinations, ending with a solid left hook that he used effectively throughout the bout. Rosa won every round in a dominant fashion.
Arizona junior welterweight Luis Olivares, promoted by 50 Cent, made an explosive professional debut, decking Rafael Munoz (1-2) twice in the opening round before referee Johnny Callas halted the action at 1:30. Olivares jumped all over Munoz after the first knockdown, unloading a battery of devastating punches.
Popular junior featherweight Shelly "Shelito's Way" Vincent improved her record to 8-0 with a four-round decision over Mikayla Nebel (0-4). New Haven welterweight Jimmy Williams (2-0, 1 KO) won a four-round decision versus Raynard Younger (0-2).