With his original opponent sidelined after being injured in an automobile accident, Amir Khan will instead face fellow former world titlist Billy Dib in a welterweight bout on July 12 at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Fight organizers made the announcement on Wednesday, one day after India’s Neeraj Goyat (11-3-2, 2 KOs), 27, suffered serious injuries to his head, face and left arm in a car crash on his way home from training on Tuesday.
Khan, who is British but of Pakistani decent, had been promoting the fight with India’s Goyat as an event that might bring together the rival neighbors. But with Goyat out, Khan, a former unified junior welterweight world titlist two months removed from a sixth-round stoppage loss challenging welterweight world titlist Terence Crawford, will instead face Australia’s Dib, a former featherweight world titlist and much smaller man.
“First of all my heart goes out to Neeraj and I pray for him to make a full recovery and is fit and healthy again to resume his boxing career,” Khan said. “We’ve had to make the decision to find a replacement and we’ve done extremely well in securing Dib to now be in the opposite corner. … We wanted to keep the event on during the important Saudi Season and ensure the fans in Saudi get to watch this great event.
“I’ve been a professional for nearly 14 years now and I’ve seen and dealt with near enough everything in that time so adjusting to a new opponent and challenge is part and parcel of the boxing business, so I’ve just got to sit down with my team and work on the new plan. I’m really excited the fight is still on. I would have been absolutely distraught if my dream of fighting in Saudi (Arabia) had to be put on hold. Dib is a respected and experienced (former) world champion so I’m looking forward to pitting my skill against him.”
The fight will be the first Khan (33-5, 20 KOs), 32, with his new training team of Clarence “Bones” Adams, a former junior featherweight world titlist, and Alex Ariza after paring ways with Virgil Hunter following the loss to Crawford.
Dib (45-5, 26 KOs), 33, suffered a one-sided decision loss to Tevin Farmer for a vacant junior lightweight title in Australia last August. Dib bounced back for a first-round knockout win against Surachet Tongmala, who was 7-11 going into the fight, in a lightweight fight on April 26.
Now Dib, who was 135¼ pounds for the April fight, is moving up two more divisions to the 147-pound welterweight division to face Khan, who has fought in that division for years.
“In life you get a limited number of opportunities to do something monumental, and like the greatest in any industry will tell you, when an opportunity comes knocking you answer,” Dib said. “This is my real life Rocky moment.”