Dib Defeats Marali on Questionable Decision
By Tony Krebs: In perhaps the worst decision I’ve ever witnessed, undefeated Australian featherweight contender Billy Dib (21-0, 11 KOs) defeated South African Zolani Marali (19-2, 13 KOs) by a controversial 12-round unanimous decision on Wednesday night to win the vacant IBO super featherweight title at the Entertainment Centre, Newcastle, in New South Wales, Australia. However, Dib, 22, appeared to win only three of the rounds, and in two of them, it very well could have gone to Marali. Dib was knocked down in the 3rd round, getting nailed by a left hand from Marali.
Other than the 1st, 5th and 10th, Marali totally controlled the remainder of the rounds, out-punching the smaller, much less busy Dib by a considerable margin in every round. In a way, it was like watching a German house fighter fight in front of a home crowd, as the Australian fans cheered like mad for every miss that Dib threw, and when on rare occasions that he would actually land a shot, the crowd would erupt in pandemonium as if he had scored a knockout. Marali, who had a three inch height advantage over the 5’7″ Dib, controlled the fight with his jab and right hook, keeping the smaller Dib on the outside. When he would attempt to come in punching range, Dib would have to lunge in quickly to avoid getting hit, yet he often was anyway.
Dib fought well in the first round in which he was able to scramble forward and land shots quickly before getting hit by Marali. The round was essentially handed to Dib, because Marali was more intent on studying Dib, looking for openings and checking out his style. Once the round was over, Marali appeared to have figured Dib out, and began to totally dominate the fight from then on. After this round, the fight was never close, as Dib was just too small, and severely limited in boxing ability to do much with the bigger Marali.
I found myself wondering how Dib, ranked #13 in both the WBO and IBF, could have ever been ranked as high as he is. From what I could see of him, he looked like an amateur, capable of never beating any of the top featherweight champions. At 22, he might someday be a good fighter, possibly when the current champions retire in 5-10 years, but by then there will be others, fighters better than Dib, that will take their place. I don’t see Dib improving enough to ever go much higher than his #13 ranking, although he’ll probably get pushed up anyway for awhile until faces someone good and gets beaten back down where he belongs.
In the 3rd round, Dib got caught with a left hand while coming inside and was dropped to the canvas. It was bound to happen sooner or later, because he showed a dangerous tendency to come charging forward inviting counter shots from Marali. He was lucky to get away with it for awhile, getting merely tagged on the way in, but in this case he was dropped.
Marali continued to dominate the fight in rounds four and five, out-landing Dib by a wide margin during this time. The Australian crowd continued to shout like mad each time he would land, and would continue screaming long after he would land, even though he would be getting hit several times after that. Knowing how judges react, I figured they were tuning into the crowd and ignoring the actual fight that was taking place, because Dib was taking a one-sided pounding from Marali. Nothing was close about this fight, nothing.
Dig was successful with several kamikaze charges forward at Marali in the 5th round, landing almost as often as he was getting hit. He was still out-punched, like in most of the previous rounds, but given that it was less one-sided as the other rounds, I figured that this was the round to give to Dib. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t give a round to a fighter that got worked over like Dib did in this round, but he was taking such a pasting, I figured the judges would give him this round. In my book, he lost it, just like he did the 2nd, 3rd and 4th rounds.
In rounds six through nine, Marali began to walk away with the fight, hitting the smaller Dib at will, bloodying his nose and pounding the living daylights out of him. Marali began to threaten Dib with bolo punches, chasing him around the ring and pelting him with big shots to the head.
Dig briefly fought well in the 10th, going all out and charging at Marali with wild shots, most missing but some landing in the round. Marali did very little punching in the round, which is why I gave Dib the round. It seemed mostly a case of Marali taking the round off, resting up, rather than a case of Dib outright winning it, because he still looked pretty awful and limited.
In the 11th and 12th rounds, Marali finished up strong, hitting Dib often with right hooks continuing to threaten him with bolo punches and tagging him with hard left hands. In both rounds, Dib only landed a small amount of punches, less than 10 in each round while taking much more than that from Marali.